Tribute to a great hill man – Donnie Ross
Sir, It was with great sadness we recently heard of the passing of Donnie Ross, who will be a huge loss to the whole rural community of the Highlands.
However, I think we gave him a really good send- off in a unique but fitting funeral service. I can honestly say I have never carried a coffin out on a hill before, but if anyone deserved this, it was big Donnie.
The family and the funeral directors are to be commended for organising such a special service for him and many well respected people and personalities from many walks of life were there to see him off. Hundreds of them were on the hillside above his home at Lealt Farm.
Everyone I know loved and respected this great hill man.
He always had time to talk to people and his stories were amazing and so educational. He was a great mentor to me and many others interested in the hills and grazing of traditional livestock.
The one thing I will really miss is looking forward to the next letter in the press from DW Ross of Lealt. His letters were from the heart and as honest as anything I have read in print.
His passion for a way of life that sadly seems to be disappearing and respect and enthusiasm for the cultural heritage of the hill men of the Highlands were well appreciated in many circles.
I just wish more people in conservation, environmental and agricultural bodies would come out from behind their desks and talk more to people like Donnie, although they will need to be quick as they are getting thinner on the ground.
Then they might learn, first, what is practical and what works and how it can be achieved but, secondly, to look at our historic use of the hills and the numbers of people who lived there and remember it was a highly managed landscape that has created what we have today.
We do not want the use of our hills to change too much from they way they used to be, especially for the production of beef, mutton and venison.
The day will come with global populations and greenhouse gases and carbon footprints when we will be looking to our hills again to feed us - when we suddenly realise that we can’t buy lamb in New Zealand and ship it to the other side of the world. It is, after all, morally wrong to burn all those hydrocarbons. E Ruaridh Ormiston, Croila Croft, Kingussie.