Summer, 1978. On a camping trip through the UK with Gail and future son-in-law, Sean. Sean, a native Brit, shows us all the sites tourists didn’t see as well as some unexpected ones. A late August night, it was past ten o’clock, and that far north in Scotland, dusk was just beginning to fall. We were looking around for place to camp and not having much luck finding a suitable spot. Sean stopped at a petrol station, asked for suggestions. We were directed to turn off the main road, and there was a quiet glen, “if ye don’t mind the spirits,” we were told.
The next morning, as we were driving northward to Skye, we recounted the night before:
THE BALLAD OF GLEN COE
By Marylou Shira Hadditt
‘Twas a dark and cloudy night
We camped out in Glen Coe
The mountains looked forebodin’
Those clouds were filled with woe.
We pitched our tents up hill away
And set dinner on to cook,
We sank our feet into the bog
And walked about to look.
Across the Glen were three cruel crags
With gray and purple stones
And on each mountain top, a cave
Densely filled with ghostly bones.
“Let’s not camp here”, I begged them
“This glen’s a scarey site.”
“It’s just the mountains”, Sean replied
“You’ll be quite safe tonight.”
And so we set our bed rolls
And so we ate our food
And so we washed our dishes
And went to bed for good.
I’m layin’ in the dark of night,
Thickly black inside the tent,
Then I heard some clompin’ hoofs
Round the tent they went.
My heart is beatin’ faster
My adrenalin’s rising up
The hoofs are kicking at the stones
Stompin’ round where we’d sup.
“Go way! Go way!” I heard them cry
“Be gone ye from our Glen”.
Clompin’, stompin’ round my tent
Gallopin’ round the fen.
‘Go way! Go way! you human beings.
“Go back to town and store,
‘You’re sleeping on our stompin’ grounds
‘We cannot dance no more.
“Go way, leave this magic place
“We don’ like folks around.
“Go way, go way, be gone
“This is our sacred ground.”
Are they goin’ to get me?
Are they leanin’ on my tent?
Do you hear those hoof beats clompin’?
Do you know which way they went?
Enter now our hero, Sean
Who opens tent flap wide
He looks to right, he looks to left,
“Hmmm. There’s only dark outside”.
Calls Sean to us, ‘What’s that?
‘You say you hear a noise?
‘Don’t be afeard, it’s only wind
‘Go sleepy-bye girls and boys.”
So brave Sean puts his head
Back inside his tent.
With one or two final clomps
Away the spirits went.
Was it wind or was it ghosts
Of that battle long ago
When Celtic clans met and clashed
In the massacre of Glen Coe
(Glen Coe, Scotland 1978)
PS. Sean admitted that he, too, heard the clomping, but. as a native Brit, he knew how to handle ghosts.