Crockett’s most famous book ‘The Raiders’ opens with the following tribute to May –
‘It was upon Rathan Head that I first heard their bridle-reins jingling clear. It was ever my custom to walk in the full of the moon at all times of the year. Now the moons of the months are wondrously different… and the moon of May is the loveliest in all the year, for with its brightness comes the scent of flower-buds, and of young green leaves breaking from the quick and breathing earth.’

Isle Rathan is Crockett’s fictionalisation of Hestan Island and features in ‘The Raiders’ and many more of his novels. At the end of the month the Galloway Raiders will be holding a picnic at Crockett Corner in Auchencairn Community Garden and if the tides are favourable there might be an opportunity to explore Crockett’s ‘Rathan’ Island for yourself. It’s not advisable to go without a knowledgeable guide. Even if you can’t get there (and you do have to remember that Crockett’s ‘Rathan’ is a fictional version!) you can share DGWGO’s trip there last summer on this link http://www.dgwgo.com/news/r-b-photography/home-2-2/
2[picture Hestan Island by R.B Photography]

Rough Island, which Crockett wrote about in his semi-autobiographical book ‘Rogue’s Island’ (to be republished this autumn) is perhaps more accessible, but as it is a National Trust For Scotland protected bird sanctuary you should not visit during May or June when birds are nesting. http://www.nts.org.uk/Property/Rockcliffe/

Away from the coast, why not make May the time you explore the Galloway Hills. Regular readers of this slot will appreciate that Crockett roamed far and wide over the Galloway countryside as well as charting its history through several centuries from the medieval to the early 20th century. And some of his most stirring stories are set in the Galloway Hills. He says: ‘The Dungeon of Buchan is a wide place, and many men can be safely accommodated there, not to be found even if a regiment should come looking for them – not without a guide.’
1 a 1 a cally may dob hills[picture Dungeon Hills © A. Todd]

And this May, with the publication of Volume 1 of ‘Discovering Crockett’s Galloway: Crockett Country’ you can go on a guided adventure into the Galloway Hills, with Crockett for company and a host of other guides (real and fictional). The book offers a chance to explore Galloway as you have never seen it before. And you don’t even have to leave your armchair!

CH1_4329_01[picture Glentrool  by R.B Photography]
The ‘adventure’ takes you from Glentrool which ‘lies very much like a Perthshire loch , set between the granite and the blue-stone’ to Back Hill o’ the Bush, ‘was it not reckoned the loneliest output in the wilds of Galloway’ and takes in the beauty of Loch Enoch ‘held up to the firmament above as upon a dandling palm of granite rock by Nature’ and places which are much less easy to find such as The Wolf’s Slock, the Aughty Cave and the Shiel of the Dungeon of Buchan.

1 a 1 a cally may wolfs slock[picture Wolf’s Slock]
Along the way you can share in the adventures of characters such as Patrick Heron, ‘bonnet laird of Rathan,’ Silver Sand (aka John Faa) ‘Gyspy born and gently bred, he had two sides to his nature’ and his brother Hector ‘a tall and insolent young man, dark and dangerous, with long hair and rings in his ears’ feisty May Maxwell ‘May Maxwell ran steadily, with her hand in mine, “I have another knife; carry you that too,” she said,’ and the practical but enigmatic Rose Gordon; ‘They tell you that nobody is really alive to the beauty of their birthplace. Well, perhaps not for some time after. But in the long run it depends on the person. For me, Rose Gordon of the Dungeon in the uplands of Galloway, from my earliest years I was glad of the large freshness of every breath I drew’ – as well as the many Covenanters, Smugglers and Gypsies who make this wild place their home.
If you have never been into the Galloway Hills this book will make you want to go and if you know them well you’ll see them in quite a new light.

1 a 1 a cally crockett country[picture ‘Crockett Country’]
‘Discovering Crockett’s Galloway’ is a whole new kind of guidebook – less about paths and maps and more about history, adventure and romance. You can enjoy your own adventure in the Galloway hills without ever leaving your armchair. Or you can get out there and explore for yourself with Crockett and his characters as guides. So get out there while the days are long and before the midgies have woken up. What are you waiting for?

I’ll be launching the new publication at Newton Stewart Walking Festival on Saturday May 9th. For more information go to the Galloway Raiders website https://www.gallowayraiders.co.uk/events.html and check out the news/events section. You can purchase the book locally from Waterstones, Dumfries or Beltie Books, Wigtown and online from Galloway Raiders online store  http://bit.ly/1Aoef1s or Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=galloway+raiders  . There is also an ebook version

Cally Phillips