The trip to Scotland had several purposes, one of which was to visit Rosalie’s sister Evelyn Kate (Lyn) who had recently had an operation for breast cancer. Lyn had married an Excise and Inland Revenue Officer called Albert Silvester (Bert), who spent much of 1907 at Ballindalloch, Banffshire, working as a whisky distillery gauger at the Speyside distilleries. Stewart was then based with the Excise Department at Elgin nearby and that appears to be how he met Albert.
By that time, Bert already knew his future wife Lyn as they had been friends for a number of years and she spent a summer holiday at the Swiss Cottage in Ballindalloch that she remembered fondly later in life. Her surviving daughter Ann recalls that the family have always presumed that she took her sister Rosalie with her on the holiday, and that is how she met Stewart.
When Bert and Lyn married at Brighstone on the Isle of Wight in 1915, Stewart and Rosalie were the two witnesses and they married in the same church the following year. The two couples were always close and the 1939 trip was a reminiscence of that long friendship. Ann Silvester/Thorp also stayed at Swiss Cottage in 1960 and still remembers the 1939 trip as a nostalgic return to old haunts, referred to in the Silvester family as ‘their sentimental journey’.
Thursday 25th May 1939
Left Devizes 1.30 on Thursday May 25th. Went to Gloucester – Newent. Country between these two places purely agricultural & rural. Sparsely inhabited. Saw lots of hop poles. Had tea by the roadside about 7 miles from Leominster. Boiled the kettle on a spirit stove.
Went on through Shrewsbury & had supper on a common place outside Whitchurch – very pleasant except for the mosquitoes. Came on to Whitchurch at 8.30 to the Hollies Hotel. Strolled around the town – sat in the lounge for a time & so to bed – quite comfortable.
Friday 26th May 1939
Had a good breakfast.
Left at 9.5 and journeyed through Warrington, Wigan (where we called at Park House) only saw Mary, as Mrs Starr was in bed & Hilda was being vaccinated. [The Starr family were related through Lucy Starr (1905-71) who married Stewart’s youngest brother George] Went through Lancaster & had lunch about 8 miles on the far side, by the side of the canal. Note the hedge near Tarpaley.
On to Kendal, Windermere, Arnside & Keswick. Had tea on a piece of common land near Borrowdale. Booked a room at Leathes Cottage Borrowdale – then went as far as the top of the Honiston Pass. Had a good walk & scramble round up there then home to tea & biscuits – walked as far as the bridge & so to bed.
Saturday 27th May 1939
Had a good bed – good breakfast & started off the next morning about 9.10. Through Keswick to Carlisle (I drove) & then to Hawick, Selkirk, Peebles & by the side of the Tweed to Edinburgh where we arrived about 4.
Went to see Lyn at night. The poor darling looks very frail.
Sunday 28th May 1939
Sunday morning went to see Lyn. After dinner we went a glorious drive over the Lammermoors, where I saw my first live grouse – a hen, a cock & some chicks.
Monday 29th May 1939
After lunch Stewart, Bert and I had a glorious run to Galashiels & thence to Melrose Abbey where we inspected the Abbey Ruins – lots of it is still roofed over. Then on to Dryburgh Abbey – where we saw the tomb of Earl Haig & Sir Walter Scott. Dryburgh is magnificently situated – such a peaceful atmosphere - on the banks of the Tweed. We went over a suspension bridge to get to it & spent some time watching the fish (trout & eels). There are some magnificent Roman doorways & the Chapter House is very well preserved with its barrel roof intact.
Tuesday 30th May 1939
Quietish day – went to Ann’s school do ( Esdaile) to meet the moderator. Saw the girls drilling etc. a really good show. Went to chettap in the evening.
Wednesday 31st May 1939
Bert, Meg, S[tewart] and I left Ed[inburgh] about 2 o’clock & through Linlithgow (where we saw the ruins of Mary of Scots Palace) – around the Forth by the Kincardine Bridge went between the Cleish Hills & the Ochills to Crieff – then to Blairgowrie – saw sign posts to Kirriemuir then up through Glen Shee & over the Devil’s Elbow (2198 feet) saw snow on mountain to the left. Thence to Braemar where we saw lots of snow on high hills. Then had a magnificent run up the Dee Valley to Balmoral – through Craithie to Ballater where we are spending the night at Alexandra Hotel.
Thursday 1st June 1939
Left the next morning about ten – after doing a little shopping – bought highland plumes for Mary & Helen here. Decided to go from Ballater to Aberdeen – a granite city – nice & clean. Saw the University Buildings (Marishall College I think they called it) & had coffee in a café in Union Street.
Made for Ellon, Stewart’s old station – rather a jolly wee place, but reported to be very bleak in winter. Had a good lunch at an inn just by the river – where they were building a new bridge over the river, quite unnecessarily we thought (2 yrs job costing £20,000).
After lunch we went up to see his old digs by the railway (stationmaster’s house) then from there on to Huntly where we stopped and bought a card to send Lil. Nice town & lovely country round. Had tea at Dufftown – saw many distilleries & the boys got quite excited as they got to familiar sights again. Had quite a job finding this place – but managed it & found ourselves quite comfortably installed at a farmhouse looking up the valley to the Cairngorms – upon which there is still a satisfying amount of snow.
Friday 2nd June 1939
S, B & Meg gone for a walk. I stayed quietly in the sun to write letters etc. After lunch (very nice chicken) we took our tea & went up to the Glenlivet Distillery. The Excise Officer (Mr Robertson) took us all over the Distillery & presented us with a souvenir booklet afterwards. Then we went on to Tomintoul (the highest village in Scotland about 1200 feet above sea level). After supper we returned to Tomintoul to see a play by the W.I. Dramatic Section from Aberlour. It was called ‘The Tinker’s Road’ & it amused me greatly. Half of it I could not understand, but the young laird was supposedly speaking with an Oxford accent (in broad Scotch) having been sent to Scotland to learn Scotch. He pronounced Oxford – “Ox-foourd”.
Saturday 3rd June 1939
Left about tennish complete with lunch (chicken) & tea. Went to Forres - Nairn & then to Inverness. Had lunch overlooking the Moray Firth – with the Black Isle across the water. After lunch we went in to Inverness & did a little shopping & then drove several miles along the shore of Loch Ness. Most lovely scenery & so hot we took off our shoes & paddled. Had tea in a fir plantation overlooking the lake. Returned through Inverness & then found out the Culloden Moor where the Battle of Culloden was fought. It has a huge cairn to commemorate where the clans fought for Scotland & Prince Charlie – and then several big stones marking the places where the different clansmen were buried in huge communal graves (Macgillivray, Macintosh, Fraser etc.)
Then on to Carrbridge & Grantown. Saw the Cairngorm range with lots of snow on it & so home. A very hot day & rather exhausting, but most enjoyable.
Sunday 4th June 1939
Very hot day, so we had a lazy morning sitting out in the sun. After lunch we went to Kirkmichael Church at 3.30 p.m. I drove them home & we had supper then went a glorious walk up the glen. Meg had a swim twice in the river – which is very deep just above the Bridge, & forms a wonderful natural swimming pool. The water is beautifully clear & soft. We spent quite a long time watching the trout, fish & eels swimming around.
Monday 5th June 1939
Left about ten with our lunch & tea & went down to Ballindalloch to wait for our letters. Bert, Meg and I walked from the upper road down through the wood to the Bridge over the Avon (by the entrance to Ballindalloch Castle. Then we went on to Forres & Elgin – where I did some shopping – reaching Lossiemouth (about 5 miles from Elgin) in time for lunch, which we had on the seats of a kiosk that had not yet opened for the season. After lunch we went for a walk along the shore – then to a pine wood outside Lossiemouth where we made our tea. Returned via Elgin & Archiestown.
Tuesday 6th June 1939
Went for a walk over the hills in the morning – had lunch at 1 pm & left about 2.15 to put Bertie on the train at Aviemore as he had decided to return to Edinburgh to see Lyn. We went along the Tomintoul Rd for some miles & then turned to the right & went over a mountain road. Fine view of the Grampians which still have lots of snow on them. Made tea in a pine wood near Aviemore – then put Bert on the 5.26 train for Edinburgh. Returned via Grantown.
Wednesday 7th June 1939
Had an easy morning went up to Tomintoul in the morning & I sat in the car, while Stewart & Meg went for a walk. Sat out in the garden all afternoon – then had an early cup of tea & then went to Glenlivet and round the back of Ben Rinnes. After S. & M. had had a good walk as far as the foot of the mountain, we went on to Esquibuie & inspected the farm of the Kemps where Stewart used to work when he worked at Dailuaine Distillery looked after by Bessie. Home about 7.00.
Thursday 8th June 1939
Had a small walk over the Bridge returning for lunch. After which Stewart & I walked up the hill & returned to tea. Then we went to Grantown on Spey to meet Bert. Returning about 8 o’clock. Quite cold today.
Friday 9th June 1939
Took our lunch & after breakfast set off for Tomintoul. We then took the lovely Lecht road to Balmoral & then went up the glen of Dee as far as the Linn of Dee. Had lunch in the woods near Mar Lodge & then spent nearly two hours watching the big salmon in the deep pools below the waterfall – several over 3 feet long & one nearly 4 feet & weighed over 30 lbs we thought. We were just leaving when a lot of deer came down from the hills & crossed the river to get to the hills on the other side. Returned past Balmoral Castle & Craithie church –which we went into & looked at the evidences of Royalty there. Returned via Cock Bridge & the Lecht Road to Tomintoul. A lovely day & we still see lots of snow about on the high places.
Saturday 10th June 1939
In the morning Bert & Meg walked over the high downs on the other side of the Avon & down into Cromdale. I drove Stewart round past Advie Church & Mains to Cromdale & then up a rough road till we came to the place where they joined us. They arrived about 12 & then I drove them home. Had an early cup of tea – about 3.30pm & then we went up to Tomintoul where we did some shopping & thoroughly explored the confines of the village & also the pretty little Catholic Church. Lots of children in this village come from the Glasgow slums & are boarded out here. It is quite one of the local industries in fact. Returned on the other side of the Avon but the road was very rough most of the way. Rain started heavily & continued for the rest of the evening.
Sunday 11th June 1939
Went out for a wee walk after breakfast & then went to church at Inveravon. Were told the service was at 12, but found that it started at 11.30. After church stayed to talk to the parson & his wife. After tea went for a drive & exploration of the road on the other side of the river.
Monday 12th June 1939
Went to Aberlour in the morning, as Stewart was anxious to have his petrol fuel pipe seen to. Back to dinner & in the afternoon went to Dufftown where we had tea & then went over Balvenie Castle – a most interesting ruin near the Distillery now in the hands of the office of works. Parts of it were of the 13th century – built on to in the 15th & 16th centuries. Home about 7 o’clock.
Tuesday 13th June 1939
Went to Glenlivet (no news from Mary) then on to Glenlossie where we called at the distillery where we met Mr Summerel ( quite unexpectedly) & the famous Mr P.C.Knight who insisted upon taking us to his house to meet wife. Had lunch by the roadside & then visited Brinie Church (one of the churches Stewart used to attend). We then went on to Pluscarden Abbey a delightful ruin much restored at various times by the Duke of Fife. We then went on to Elgin where we had tea at Austin’s Bakery Smith Street Elgin (very nice). Then to Elgin Cathedral which was burnt by the Wolf of Badenoch & then home.
Wednesday 14th June 1939