TRAVELLING ON THE COUNTRY BUS
An Idyll on Wheels
Travellers refer to it as “the bus” or “our bus” and in the district which it serves so well, pronoun and adverb receive an inflection of affection.
Twice daily it journeys along the narrow road to and from the Town, some twenty- two odd miles either way — a link in the chain of history. On the inward journey the first turnings of the wheels carry the vehicle past an abandoned, yet well-preserved, bridge, made to the order of General Wade, whose road-making activities enabled his successors to “breek the Highlanders’ for two decades. The silhouette of a kilted warrior, armed for offence and defence with claymore and targe. which embellishes the coach-body, can, to the imaginative, raise the blade in defiance at the bridge and in salute to the farmhouse five miles farther on the way, where the Young Pretender authentically was given refuge for the night following the decisive battle.
The inward travellers are a soft-speaking, kindly people. Everybody knows everybody, and homely gossip of the Strath and its affairs is retailed for all to hear. The stranger learns that peats have been cut, dried, and are ready for carting; lambing progresses well; muirburn is unhampered; curlew and plover, duck and gull are settling nesting sites; the field-birds are coming in, and the cuckoo is around. Trout from the burns are plump and make a tasty fry, and Loch fish are showing interest. By and large, a mild winter and – dry spring have combined to bring all nature forward.
A brief halt is made here and there to enable the conductor to collect mail from a sub-office, empty a “V.R.” or “G.R.” letterbox, pick up passengers, and at a passing- stance as occasion demands. Two tiny tots tender to the conductor, along with their fares, daisies they have plucked during the minutes of waiting and the little bouquets are courteously accepted. The stranger meditates on the meticulous road-courtesy of the driver and the careful shepherding of the conductor. That sometimes overworked title “Highland gentleman” is the only one applicable to the faithful employees of the bus company.
All too soon the last hill is topped and with the magnificent view of Town, river, firth, and hills sweeping away to a far horizon to enjoy, “the bus,” or “our bus,” coasts down the steep brae to Journey’s end.
(Journey from Whitebridge to Inverness on Macbraynes Bus around the mid nineteen fifties period from an newspaper cutting )