We had a lovely couple of days at the Glen Esk Caravan Park. The weather was good to us and there seemed to be no midgies about! I read that King George VI had a bad midge bite to his eye lid in the summer of 1939 while all set to launch the grouse shooting season in Glen Esk, the guest of J P Morgan (about whom more below). The shooting had to be put off because of the King’s indisposition, and the Glorious Twelth that year had to wait to the less auspicious thirteenth.
This was our second visit to the park, having been here just six weeks ago. We parked up beside the lochan and enjoyed watching the birds and the reflections of trees and flowers in the still water.
One thing I became aware of this time, however, which had not bothered us on our last visit. There was no phone reception or internet facilities. We wanted to be in touch with some family members, but that was not possible. And when we tried to play a DVD on the laptop computer (quite new) we were told that before the DVD could play we had to connect to the internet.
Communication issues in this area are not new. I read about a party of rich Americans who were spending a shooting break in 1929, the guests of the American financier, J Pierpont Morgan at the Gannochy shooting lodge, quite near to where our more humble motorhome was parked.
This was the year of the Wall Street Crash which happened right in the middle of the grouse shooting season. J P Morgan leased the shooting on the Dalhousie Estate in Glen Esk for a good number of years. That October It is said that the one telephone box in Edzell had a queue of his American guests trying to call their brokers to see if they had any money left. (The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, William Shawcross)
The same theme is picked up in Frank Lyall’s crime novel, A Death in Time (Published in 1987), when the hero makes his way from the next door Burn Estate to Edzell to communicated with his London boss, having to use that same Edzell telephone box. In those days you just accepted that making telephone calls could be a challenge.
In stark contrast, Edzell was at that time the centre of a world communications network. This was the time of the Cold War and the US Navy built a communications and monitoring facility at RAF Edzell, from where Russian radio communication could be listened to and Russians submarines tracked. Although we did not know what they were doing there at the time, I still recall the excitement in nearby Brechin when the Americans arrived in 1960 – somewhat different Americans to J P Morgan’s guests in the 1920s and 30s.
We visited Edzell and found that there was still no reliable mobile signal there. Our calls had to wait for the next day when we were on the road to Callander. I suppose I could have looked for the famous telephone box, but I don’t recall the last time I used one! We did solve the internet problem, however, thanks to a lovely cake enjoyed at Sinclair’s Larder on Edzell’s main street, which had free WiFi. Our DVD problem was quickly fixed and we enjoyed our film that night in the van.
Edzell needs more exploring on what we are sure will be a further visit to the Glen Esk site. On this occasion I spotting the dog friendly Post Office with its hitching rings provided. I took this picture with my phone, at least it had some use in Edzell!