Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.
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IKWIG 60th Anniversary
28 - 31 October 2005
By: Steve Crook
Sat 29th October 2005
Saturday dawned quite clear with the view out of my window looking at a nice sunrise over Tobermory harbour. Down for a nice breakfast and we got all the transport organised. There were quite a few people there so we all teamed up to get us to the various locations. I was the the breakfast table with Florence and Michael McBride, Michael's a Professor of Chemistry at Yale and they were touring the area. Also at our table was Frank Collieson from Cambridge. Flo & Mike had hired a car so we all bundled into that & Mike drove us around all weekend - thanks Mike.
Late on Saturday we'd been joined by a nice couple all the way from Tasmania, Colin & Catriona. Her name before they married was Catriona Maclaine! They'd been on a bit of a tour of Europe and had been planning to come to Mull anyway to look up a few of Catriona's ancestors. When they heard about our trip there that settled the timing for them.
After breakfast we headed off to Lochbuie and Moy Castle. At this point I must mention another star of the show who really made the weekend something special. Nicolas Maclean, laird of one of the many branches of the Maclaine/Maclean families in the area. Nicolas acted as a guide and helper and told us a lot of the history of the area and of his family and how that all fitted into the film. Many thanks to you Nicolas.
For anyone that isn't sure, Mull is in the Inner Hebrides, the group of islands off the West coast of Scotland. The island of Mull itself is a sort of reverse 'L' shape, about 24 miles along either arm. Tobermory and the Western Isles Hotel is in the top right hand corner. A few scenes were filmed there (or in a re-creation of the Hotel in the studio) so we had to stay there, but most of the other scenes were filmed in the southern part of the island so there was quite a lot of driving.
The Castle of Moy is at Lochbuie. Carsaig & the phone box by the waterfall are on the south coast of the island. Duart Castle (Castle of Sorne in the film) and Torosay Castle (Achnacroish in the film), are on the East coast just south of Craignure.
Maps from scotlandinter.net
Accommodation on the Island of Mull
The main ferry from Oban comes in to Craignure and there is a smaller ferry from Lochaline to Fishnish on Mull. Of course most of us took the main ferry from Oban because that's how Joan gets to Mull in the film, although the Oban ferry used to go direct to Tobermory in those days (it was a smaller ferry and could get into Tobermory harbour).
There are now quite reasonable roads around most of the island, unlike in the days when they made the film. Many of them are just single track roads but there are lots of passing places for when you meet oncoming traffic. Once off the main roads there are a few potholes but I've known worse on mainland Britain. The main hazards are the sheep and the highland cattle but as long as you pay attention to them they don't give too much trouble. But it can be difficult to drive around because the views are so stunning it's hard to concentrate on the road.
To get back to the story in hand, we arrived at Moy Castle and it's still very much like it was in the film - except that the real one's in colour of course. Also there is the gate that Joan arrives at in Ian's car. With the Castle looming above them.
I had prepared some extracts from the film with a few lines for people to read out as a "playlet" to remind us all of what happened at that location in the film. After all of us posed for some photos at the doorway to the Castle, Val Simpson and Nicolas Maclean read out the scene between Joan and Torquil where he hesitates before the castle and then introduces himself as the Laird. Most appropriate with Nicolas reading it.
The Castle of Moy is as powerful and imposing as we expected. Because of the way it represents a key part of the film with such significance I've left it up to the reader to decide if they want to Follow the Tour Inside Moy Castle.
We were shown around Moy by the very knowledgable Jimmy Robb and Tom Mangnall, one of the young men who's working on the restoration. After exploring Moy Castle and some of the surrounding area, we retired to a nearby hostelry for lunch, then we went on to Carsaig. This was the location of the pier where Joan's itinerary blows away and also of Carsaig House (Erraig in the film). On the way down to Carsaig you pass the phone box by the waterfall so our convoy had to stop there for a series of photos. Luckily there wasn't any other traffic as it's a single track road and they'd have been held up.
Carsaig House itself isn't seen very much in the film (again, all the interiors are shot in the studio) but we could see how the real house was the inspiration for what they built in the studio. The crenelated gateway that Joan walks through as she arrives, the two windows in the interior angle of the building where Torquil and Joan talk on their first night there, the kissing gate across the lawn where the next morning Torquil tells Joan that the gale means she can't cross that day either.
It proved to be a longer walk than we thought to get to the pier so we went back to the cars and drove around. It was blowing quite hard and raining quite a lot by then - but we didn't mind that too much. The pier is now in a sorry state with great chunks taken out of it by the frost and the pounding of the waves. I had a little playlet prepared for someone to read there but as it was so windy I think there was a risk of them blowing away, not just Joan's itinerary.
But despite the rain, there were some seals that popped their heads out of the water to have a look at us at Carsaig pier. While Joan was waiting at the pier she heard the seals singing because they like the warm, foggy weather. It wasn't foggy enough for them to sing for us but it was very nice to see them.
The boathouse is by the pier as well. There are actually two boathouses. The one used in the film was the one on the left as you go down to the pier. The other one looks a bit fancier, with a crest above the door, but it is smaller and couldn't fit a boat of the size used in through the doors.
On the way back we stopped off at Inniemuir Lodge where Sally had attended a painting course (apparently it was at Nicolas' suggestion, we had got very wet & muddy by then and he needed a break) and they very kindly let us all have a look around and even gave us a nice cup of tea. That's Highland hospitality, not at all put out when 40 people drop by unannounced. While we were there someone mentioned that the family had made their own version of IKWIG!. Intrigued I asked the lady of the house, Clausie, about this. It seems that it was a small home movie made mainly by the children of the family with things like their toys as the creatures like Torquil the Eagle and the family mini as the boat in Corryvreckan. It sounds charming and I've asked them to see if they still have it anywhere.
Back at the hotel we had dinner and then retired to the lounge where I ran an quiz about IKWIG with 25 questions. Give it a go and see how well you do. Everyone split up into small groups or tried it by themselves. I was getting very hoarse by then from talking all day (and the day before) so Robert kindly read out the questions. They were just read out, not written down, so everyone had to pay attention. Robert gave them just a minute or two for each question. As an incentive, we offered a bottle of wine to the winners.
Rather than over-complicate things we put everyone on their honour to mark their own papers honestly and I then read out the answers. There were a few groans but many people did surprisingly well. The winners got 24/25 and were presented with a well deserved bottle of wine. It was the amount that Joan's father had given her that defeated them although some others did get that.
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