WHERE THE GOLDEN EAGLE SOARS
First Published in 1960 - 192 pages
A rather unusual Johns book in that the story can be summarised in one line. Sixteen year old Malcolm Macallan has his American friend, Franklin Macpherson to stay at his remote Highlands home and Malcolm shows him the sights and wildlife of the Scottish Highlands pointing out all of the dangers as well. Johns lived in Scotland from 1944 to 1953 staying at the Richmond Arms Hotel in Tomintoul for long periods initially and then leasing Pitchroy Lodge on the Ballindalloch Estate from around May 1947. This book contains details of his intimate knowledge of Scotland and because of that there is much more to this book as it gives an excellent picture of life in a remote part of Scotland. I have therefore done a chapter by chapter summary.
The Chapters can be summarised as follows:-
"The purpose of this book is to tell the reader (of any age) something about one of the most fascinating countries of the world; the hills, lochs and glens, that are known as the Highlands of Scotland; and at the same time sound a warning of the dangers which year after year cost careless visitors their lives"
CHAPTER ONE - A STRANGER IN GLENNARDER
Sixteen year old Malcolm Macallan waits at the railway station of Tombrecht to meet his friend Franklin Macpherson. Frank, who is an American, is driven back to the Lodge where Malcolm lives and they meet Duncan the gillie. Duncan has spotted a 40 pound Salmon in a pool on the river and they discuss how they could catch it.
CHAPTER TWO - TROUBLE ON THE HILL
The boys meet Donald Macdonald, the gamekeeper, and discuss the various animals in the Highlands. Donald tells them he is hunting an Alsatian dog that has gone wild and is killing sheep.
CHAPTER THREE - MOSTLY ABOUT DOGS
The boys discuss the various tartan patterns in the Highlands and what they mean. Malcolm shows Frank his den where he makes his fishing lures. Frank also gets to meet Jeanie the pony and the dogs, Shelia and Susan. They discuss dogs and their loyalty and understanding.
CHAPTER FOUR - BIRDS OF THE RIVER
The boys walk down to the river and discuss the various birds that live on the river and in the Highlands.
CHAPTER FIVE - THE RIVER
Malcolm tells Frank how easy it can be to lose your life in the river. They discuss Salmon and their life cycle and then plan to go fishing in the evening.
CHAPTER SIX - THE SEA-TROUT OBLIGE
Both Malcolm and Frank fish for and catch Sea-Trout and they also discuss poachers.
CHAPTER SEVEN - THE BIG FISH
The following morning, using a prawn, Frank battles for hours to land the large Salmon that Duncan the gillie had spotted. It weighs in at thirty nine and a half pounds.
CHAPTER EIGHT - THE WAY TO THE HILL
The next morning, the boys pack up supplies and set off into the wilds of Scotland on a camping trip to a hut that Malcolm knows well. Their equipment is loaded on the pony, Jeanie, and they take the two dogs with them. On the way they find the warm carcass of a freshly killed sheep.
CHAPTER NINE - THE OUTLAW
Malcolm sees the Alsatian that has gone wild, together with another dog. The Alsatian goes for them and Malcolm shoots it dead. Later, they come across a tiny croft called Altihoisch where a family used to live in the middle of nowhere.
CHAPTER TEN - THE HUT IN THE MOUNTAINS
Arriving at the hut, the boys settle in. They discuss the Scottish wild cats and how peat can be used as a fuel. They watch a stag and hinds.
CHAPTER ELEVEN - SETTLING IN
Malcolm gets trout from a nearby burn (or stream). They cook and eat their meal and discuss the success of rabbits. Malcolm tells Frank about the Eagles that live around here. Frank is disturbed in the night by the noise of the wildcats.
CHAPTER TWELVE - DANGEROUS GROUND
The boys decide to go up to see the Eagle's nest. One of the Eagles tries to take Susan the dog. The boys discuss how easy it is to die up in the remote Highlands, especially when the weather changes.
CHAPTER THIRTEEN - THE EAGLE'S NEST
Reaching the Eagle's nest, the boys see that there is a chick in it. In a landslide, Frank finds a semi-precious stone, known as a cairngorm but really a form of topaz. Malcolm tells Frank about the Black Loch, which is rarely visited by anyone, year in year out, as the locals fear it.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN - THE BLACK LOCH
Travelling to the Black Loch involves covering some very difficult terrain. They see a weasel mesmerizing a rabbit. On reaching the Black Loch, Frank discovers a cave housing an old whisky still. Malcolm tells Frank about Scottish Whisky and illegal distillation.
CHAPTER FIFTEEN - THE STORM
After three further days at the hut, the weather begins to change and the boys travel back to the Lodge in a fearful Scottish storm. The mild river becomes a roaring torrent which they cross with the help of Donald the gamekeeper who has come out to meet them. Franks tells Malcolm's mother that the holiday is the best he has ever had.
Where the Golden Eagle Soars
Subtitle - A story for lovers of nature about wild life in the Highlands of Scotland.
Publication Details - originally published by Hodder and Stoughton
Original artwork for the First Edition (in my personal collection)
Second Edition - Children's Book Club