A letter from an old Friend

We received a wonderful letter from James Anderson of West Lothian who got to know Loch of Blairs in the 1950’s and has fond memories of the place. His letter is transcribed below. Thank you James and very best wishes from your fellow Friends of Blairs Loch.

For many years I have thought of my experience at the Loch of the Blairs and this was renewed recently when I found it on the computer and prompted me to write to you (with help from my daughter-in-law’s E Mail).

I was stationed at RAF Kinloss for National Service 1955/56 and fished quite a bit locally – mainly the Findhorn, the Moy, Loch Romach and a small loch near Forres called Sanquhar but knew nothing about Blairs until I was almost ready for demob. I don’t remember how I found out about it but it would be May/June 1956 and the key to the boathouse was held in the chemist’s shop in Forres.

Enquiry there proved they had the key but it couldn’t be found! I left my particulars and later in the week I was summoned to the Guardroom at the camp to find that a huge key had been left for me at a cost of 7/6p.

The following Saturday with two friends we cycled to the loch and gained access with this great key. The boathouse held a small boat within a cat walk and was perfectly dry and appeared to be seaworthy.

We entered the adjoining building and walked into another world. There was a desk or a table on which lay a large ledger in which to record catches. The writing was so faded it could not be read. It was impossible to tell when the building had last been used but I would guess several years.

There were several fishing rods made up with reels and lines resting on pegs of the wall and which had sagged out of shape between the pegs. We got tackled up and into the boat and ventured forth.

The water was crystal clear and appeared to be uniformly about three feet deep with a sandy bottom. There was a large population of Eels up to about two feet in length lying on the sandy bottom.

About one third of the surface area of the loch was covered with large Lily pads. We could see the Lily pads moving and discovered the underside was covered with Bloodworms and the movement was caused by fish feeding on them.

We began to ctach fish and found that they were identical in shape and size and about 2lb in weight. They were dark yellow in colour with a few spots.

In those days, long ago, we fished to catch fish. There were no “Bag limits”, no modern lines, barbless hooks or “catch & release” policies. We were, however, not motivated by greed and one of my colleagues had a plan to enter the fish into the food chain.

We ended up with 24 fish all of which were sold to the Officer in charge of the Officer’s Mess at the camp at a cost of 5/- per fish. On the down side the fish could not be eaten because of the muddy tasting flesh (I suspect from their diet of Bloodworms).

I left Morayshire in July 1956 and returned to the Lothians. In August 1986 I retired from the Police Service and was on holiday and driving in the Forres area and at one point managed a glimpse of Blairs as I was passing. I have never returned.

I have fished premier lochs all over Scotland and England but none can match the memories I have of the Loch of the Blairs, a magical place in my mind.

I hope I have not bored you with the ramblings of an old man but I wish you every success in your venture to restore the wonderful asset to the area.

Yours faithfully

J Anderson



If you have any memories of times at Loch of Blairs that you would like to share with us please drop us a note to fofblairsloch@gmail.com.

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