Ring of Bright Water (Ring of Bright Water, #1) by Gavin MaxwellI wanted to read this after having a go at Miriam Darlington’s Otter Country, which in many ways revolved around this book and the landscape described by Gavin Maxwell. He got much closer to the animals than Darlington, so perhaps it’s not surprising that his account is more interesting and vital. Otters were, not quite pets, but definitely companions for him, in a way that Darlington had no opportunity to understand.
Maxwell takes such a delight in the landscape and the antics of the creatures within it, both the wild ones and those he tamed or half-tamed, that it’s impossible not to enjoy this, for me. He wasn’t ashamed of his love for the animals, and sometimes that just shines through so clearly.
It’s not some adventure story, not such a battle of wills as, for instance, H is for Hawk chronicles. Mostly, it’s worth reading for that delight in nature, described with love and attention to detail. If you’re not interested in autobiography and nature writing, it’s probably not for you.
Originally posted here, on my blog.
The Otter's Trail - The Secrets of Nature
Ring of Bright Water
As I walk down a forest path on the coast of north-west Scotland, my heart is beating fast. It's not so much the physical effort — the way is not steep — but my sense of expectation that is causing this effect. What I am about to see is a near-mythical place, one I have read so much about and visited so often in my dreams, but never in reality. Soon the view opens up and what appears in front of me is a little bay of sand and sea encircled by trees and a stream, a sublime composition of natural elements that has become famous the world over as the setting for Ring of Bright Water, Gavin Maxwell's best-selling memoir about the life he lived here with his pet otters. The book was published in and, like millions of other readers, I feel it has shaped my view of nature. Now I have come to Sandaig, a wild and isolated spot overlooking the Sound of Sleat to Skye, to see the site of this saga for myself.