Your coun­try­side


Countryfile Magazine - - Lazy Days - GAVIN MAXWELL’S LEGACY Share your views and opin­ions by writ­ing to us at: Have your say, BBC Coun­try­file Magazine, 14th Floor, Tower House, Fair­fax Street, Bris­tol BS1 3BN; or email editor@coun­try­ Tweet us @Coun­try­fileMag or via Face­book www.faceb

When I was at school, I read Gavin Maxwell’s book Ring of

Bright Wa­ter. En­chanted by the story, I trav­elled to Sandaig and saw the house and one of the ot­ters with An­drew Scot (Gavin’s ot­ter keeper). Later, I wrote to Gavin about my visit to his home and sur­round­ings, and – af­ter the fire that de­stroyed Sandaig house – he in­vited me to his new home on Eilean Bàn.

Gavin ex­pressed the hope that I would make use of my in­ter­est in keep­ing a di­ary and writ­ing about the coun­try­side. On his death, I en­tered a com­pe­ti­tion for young writ­ers about my ex­pe­ri­ence of meet­ing Gavin, with a story ti­tled

Back to Par­adise. Melvyn Bragg , the com­pe­ti­tion’s judge, highly com­mended my story, which he found to be “very mov­ing” and added that he had en­joyed it “enor­mously”.

En­cour­aged by Melvyn’s com­ments, I be­came a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor of a coun­try-walks fea­ture in The Northum­brian Magazine, un­til I left the north-east of Eng­land in 1992 to live on the Lan­cashire-York­shire border. To em­u­late Gavin’s life­style, I chose to live in a re­mote farm­house on the edge of the Brontë moors for over 20 years, with only wildlife for neigh­bours. Dur­ing this time, I earned my liv­ing as a coun­try­side ranger and helped the pub­lic to learn about the coun­try­side through guided walks and events and by giv­ing il­lus­trated lec­tures.

Gavin Maxwell’s in­flu­ence led to me be­com­ing a teacher, ranger, pho­tog­ra­pher and writer. With­out him, it is un­likely I would have achieved the same suc­cess.

Thanks to the way of life I chose, my daugh­ter has re­cently gained her BSc (Hons) de­gree in zoo man­age­ment. She told me she had been in­spired by my spark­ing her in­ter­est in the wildlife around our home.

It is Gavin Maxwell whom we have to thank for the end­ing of ot­ter hunt­ing in this coun­try, through his won­der­ful pow­ers of de­scrip­tion of the coun­try­side and an­i­mal re­la­tion­ships, which con­tin­ues to in­spire many oth­ers.

There is now a Gavin Maxwell So­ci­ety (maxwell­so­ci­ which is see­ing a steadily grow­ing mem­ber­ship: a liv­ing Editor Fer­gus Collins replies: It’s fas­ci­nat­ing to see the deep and en­dur­ing im­pact that Maxwell has had on your life. For me, it was Ger­ald Dur­rell but with a sim­i­lar out­come.

tes­ti­mony of Gavin’s power to en­thuse oth­ers in the things that he loved. Peter Short Ac­cring­ton, Lan­cashire

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