Path of the Children

Path of the Children with Hector MacInnes

10 o’clock

Nobody has seen Ishbel since early this morning.

Although our schoolmistress does not like her, and she is punished often and harshly, everybody knows she is very clever. She is an enthusiastic entomologist and she spends a lot of time studying and collecting examples when she is supposed to be learning her tables. We don’t know what an entomologist is.

Mr MacDiarmid, the shop-keeper, said he spoke to a girl walking in the direction of Fisherman’s Point at around seven o’clock. She was looking for a Stag Beetle”. Or one of the two at any rate. We are all very worried.

A quarter past eleven

Five of us have set out towards Fisherman’s Point, and we are unsure what we will find. We have each told our parents different things so that if they look for us, they will not all come looking in the same place, and put themselves in danger.

Half past eleven

We are on a narrow path between deep bog and dark woodland. It feels as though we have been walking for much longer than an hour. It feels as though we have been walking for much, much longer.


We two have become separated from the others! Some of the group have gone ahead and others are trailing far behind and we have not seen anyone else in a long time. We made a disturbing discovery by the roadside – in an area of bog below a high cliff, we found a battered and dirty shoe and some torn cloth. Ishbel said that it looked like it belonged to the girl we are looking for, but the shoe and cloth are so worn, cracked and faded that I think they have been lying out here for years!

Half past two

A lot has happened since I wrote my last entry. Ishbel and I have been walking alone for a long time and have had no sign of the others. We grew incredibly hungry and, realising we had brought no food, we gathered leaves and mushrooms and ate them. I have begun to feel quite unwell and dizzy, and my heart is pounding. We spent a long time walking along high above the sea before the path disappeared back into woodlands.

Eleven o’clock.

It feels like we have been walking for much longer than an hour! The path is winding and we are between boggy ground and thick woods. I can’t remember when we lost the others, although I think they are now far behind us.

Half past noon.

Finally, we think the others are catching up! We heard voices some way behind us. Soon we will stop and wait for them.

A quarter past one.

The strangest thing… we were sitting on a rock by the path waiting for the others to catch up and decided that we should remove our green jackets to be seen more easily – me in a bright red shirt and Ishbel in a blue one. This way when the others began to approach they would see us. Then in the distance, we saw the figures of the others approaching, or two of them at any rate. And we saw from far off that one of them was dressed in a red shirt and the other in a blue one. As they drew closer a dreadful feeling crept over us. Slowly we could make out their features and realised that it was ourselves! We backed away up the path, unsure if they had yet seen us, and ran forwards. Then we heard voices up ahead and thought, perhaps all this time it was us who had been left behind! We ran to catch up, and as we rounded a corner and the voices grew louder we saw with horror two figures sitting on a rock – one in a red shirt, one in a blue. We dashed off the path and into the woods, but as we fled, Ishbel ran closer and closer to a steep incline and then suddenly disappeared.

Much later I looked down and saw, lying in the bog below, a shoe and a torn piece of cloth.

As I write this, I have no idea how long it has been since we came on this walk. There is a distant rumbling sound growing closer and closer now, and the clouds have formed into strange lines across the sky. It has been such a very long time.

The above story was developed by Hector MacInnes from audio notes created by the group of young people who joined him on The Path of the Children”. No one knew why it had that name and during the walk, we used the title as the theme for making the story.

This walk was in collaboration with the High Life Highland Youth Development Service, summer activities programme.

Tha Seo Math Dhuibh – Good for you

A partnership project with Aros Centre, Portree