The Legend of the Glen Loth gold
It all began back in the 1970s when I was a young teenager. I heard a story from a friend at school who told me about his uncle who had lived at Loth and found enough gold in Glen Loth to emigrate to a new life in the Falkland Islands. There was even whispered talk of nuggets. A few have heard the story, but the Glen Loth gold has never been found. A while back I decided to start looking for it and spent two years wandering up and down the burn and its tributaries. I never found any gold and gave up.
Then one year I decided to have another look, slipped on the drysuit and started scraping out a few cracks in the bedrock. I spent a number of days splashing around in the water, but never found any gold. Just before I gave up altogether, I thought I'd check a short stretch of one of the tributaries which I'd deliberately walked past on a number of occasions to save time as I headed upstream. This is what I found.
And this is how the dude had set up his little mining operation. There is a board across the river embedded in the gravels, which was used as a base for a dam. On either side of the river there were wooden supports into which he could slot boards to control the levels of water being diverted to his sluices. He used a wheel barrow to trolley muck from the riverbank to the riddles, and you can see his tailings all over the place. This was a serious little mining operation.
Here is some of his equipment which is still lying on the banks.
To prevent spates from damaging his dam, he had the banks meshed on both sides so his work wouldn't be washed away.
Having found all this, I was quite excited. I'd found the source of the Glen Loth gold. The legends were true! My little heart thumped inside me as I started testing around the area. The thing is, there's no gold. I spent days testing upstream, testing downstream, testing under the banks, testing here, there and everywhere. There was no gold. Well, I did find two specks.
It was time to sit down and think. This dude had gone to a lot of trouble to set up a major mining operation but there was no gold. Back then the Duke of Sutherland had banned gold panning and anyone caught doing it risked jail. Then it occurred to me that game keepers and shepherds can walk the hills like stags, and the River Helmsdale was just over the hill, as were the Kildonan and Suisgill burns. Within an hour the dude could have been stalking the banks of the Suisgill Burn where he could have stashed a little gold panning equipment. On his return to Glen Loth with his swag, he would have spent a few hours trundling barrow loads of nothing into his riddles for appearances.
The guy emigrated on gold, that's a fact, however, I'm pretty sure his Glen Loth gold was stamped 21ct Suisgill. I believe this operation in Glen Loth was simply a front to cover his tracks so he wouldn't be jailed by the Duke, and that he was sneaking onto the Suisgill estate for his gold. Or was he? Could there really be gold in Glen Loth? After all, I do have two specks of Glen Loth gold in my collection. Perhaps I'll go back for another look sometime.