I had been working in the woodlands of Perthshire and beyond on storytelling projects which help children to connect with these wild places, weaving in local folk, plant lore and place-specific stories. At the end of each day’s session the children would become storymakers and storytellers, with each tale created coming from the children’s response to that environment – a brand new story seedling deeply rooted in place.
In 2012, I took to the road on my bike and cycled slowly from Moulin on a Travelling Tales storytelling journey – a circular journey of 80 miles in one week around Loch Tummel, Rannoch and over into the Tay Valley. I took with me the stories collected in these glens by Lady Evelyn Stewart Murray and retold some of them in the places they’d originally been shared. But I also had the time toconnect with the landscape and communities of my home and find some new stories.
En route my bike and I called in at primary schools – Pitlochry, Kinloch Rannoch, Kenmore, Breadalbane, Grandtully and Logierait – all of which I had visited over the years and shared many tales with. On these visits the children and I created what we called a Story Cycle – a new wonder tale inspired by traditional tales. The land in which it was created was rich with Myths and Legends which are embedded into the very landscape – sleeping giants and faerie mountains to name a few – and these were given voice as the children wove their magical tale.
Pitlochry Primary began the story which I then carried with me to Kinloch Rannoch. Here I recounted the beginning of ‘The Spider That Could Spin the Golden Thread’ and they spun tigether the next part of the tale, which was carried to the next school… and so it went until the final part of the tale was woven in Logierait. No one could have predicted the journey of the tale or the outcome! It was an interesting and wonderful process; I suppose the only known factor was the physical journey I was taking which the children had to follow within their story. They came with me on the journey in every sense!
At journey’s end my job was then to stitch the story together and go back to each school to retell the story they had all made together. The children also had the opportunity to retell their part of the story at a community gathering and meet one another, which was fun and a lovely way to bring isolated communities together.
Traditionally stories are meant to be passed on to keep them alive and keep our roots in the land strong. And so with this tradition in heart and mind, this fledgling tale, created in the Heartlands of Highland Perthshire by the children who live in her beautiful glens, is offered for you to retell if it speaks to you.
Please acknowledge the land from which it was born and the children who crafted it. One day it will indeed be a tale of long, long ago! You may even come to these glens and see for yourself the land where stories grow.