John Barrington was a shepherd to over 750 Blackface ewes who graze 2,000 acres of some of Britain's most beautiful hills overlooking the deep dark water of Loch Katrine. The yearly round of lambing, dipping, shearing and the sales is marvelously interwoven into the story of the glen, of Rob Roy in whose house John lived, of curling when the ice is thick enough, and of sheep dog trials in the summer. Whether up on the hills or along the glen, John knows the haunts of the local wildlife: the wily hill fox, the grunting badger, the herds of red deer, and the shrews, voles and insects which scurry underfoot. He sets his seasonal clock by the passage of birds on the loch, and jealously guards over the golden eagle's eyrie in the hills. Paul Armstrong's sensitive illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to the evocative text.
JOHN BARRINGTON is an established storyteller and author. For many years he was a hill shepherd, living in Rob Roy MacGregor's old house in the heart of the Scottish Highlands. He herded 780 Scottish Black - face sheep on the 2,000ft Perthshire mountains above Loch Katrine. Successful at sheepdog trials, shepherd and dogs have given demonstration of their ancient craft at two Garden Festivals and many shows, galas and Highland Games.
In 1998, the Scottish Qualification Authority asked John Barrington to design a course in sheepdog handling and management, which took two years to complete. The first classes were run at Oatridge Agricultural College, near Edinburgh, in 2000, the author at the helm. Students were enrolled from Ireland, England and all parts of Scotland.
With a good eye for sheep, John Barrington has judged classes of sheep at the Highland Show in Edinburgh and has made several judging trips to Europe.
Like most shepherds, Barrington is a natural storyteller, a gift he exercises at schools, clubs and societies, and as an after dinner speaker. Stories are recounted on the move during daytime guided tours and twilight ghost walks, and as a commentator at a dozen or so Highland Games each year. Stories told to enliven his whisky tasting sessions are always presented in the right spirit! Red Sky at Night, his first book and a UK bestseller, won him a Scottish Arts Council book award. His latest book, Of Dogs and Men, will be published soon.
Mr Barrington is a great pleasure to read. One learns more things about the countryside from this account of one year than from a decade of "The Archers" - THE DAILY TELEGRAPH
Powerful and evocative... a book which brings vividly to life the landscape, the wildlife, the farm animals and the people who inhabit John's vista. He makes it easy for the reader to fall in love with both his surrounds and his commune with nature. - THE SCOTTISH FIELD
An excellent and informative book.... not only an account of a shepherd's year but also the diary of a naturalist. Little escapes Barrington's enquiring eye and, besides the life cycle of a sheep he also gives those of every bird, beast, insect and plant that crosses his path, mixing their histories with descriptions of the geography, local history and folklore of his surroundings. - TLS
The family life at Glengyle is wholesome, appealing and not without a touch of the Good Life. Many will envy Mr Barrington his fastness home as they cruise up Locah Katrine on the tourist steamer. - THE FIELD
I read John Barrington's book with growing delight. This working shepherd writes beautifully about his animals, about the wildlife, trees and flowers which surround him at all times, and he paints an unforgettable picture of his glorious corner of Western Scotland. It is a lovely story of a rather wonderful life. - JAMES HERRIOT