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George

The Legend of the Glen Loth Gold

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It all began back in the 1970s, when I was a young teenager. I overheard a story about a man who lived at Loth around the time of the Kildonan gold rush who found gold in the glen, and who made enough from it to emigrate. There was even whispered talk of nuggets. Most have heard the stories, but the Glen Loth gold was never found. A few years ago, 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 anywhere and gave up.

The following year, I decided to have one last 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. On my last day, I thought I'd check a short stretch of one of the tributaries which I'd deliberately bypassed on a number of occasions to save time as I headed further upstream. I must have walked past this stretch a dozen times. This is what I found.

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And here 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, there were wooden supports into which he could slot boards to control the levels of water being diverted to his sluices and riddles. 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.

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Here is some of his equipment which is still lying on the banks.

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To prevent spates from damaging his dam, he had the banks meshed on both sides so his work wouldn't be washed away.

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Now 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.

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It was time to side down and think. This dude had gone to a lot of trouble to set up a major mining operation but there was no gold. These guys can walk the hills like stags, and then it occurred to me that the River Helmsdale was just over the hill, as were the Kildonan and Suisgill burns. Within an hour he could have been stalking the banks of the Helmsdale or the Suisgill, where he would 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. He would have had to do this because the Duke had banned all gold panning on his estate and he risked being jailed if he was caught.

This guy emigrated on gold for sure, but I'm also pretty sure his Glen Loth gold was stamped 21ct Suisgill. I believe this was all a front to cover his tracks, and that he was sneaking onto the Suisgill estate for his gold. Or was he? Could there really be gold in Glen Loth? I have Glen Loth gold in my collection. Perhaps I'll go back for another look sometime.

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I love a good story about lost treasure!

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That explains your love for Tomb Raider then :classic_laugh: Summer is almost here in the Highlands, wonderful time of year.

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Oh yes, I definitely live vicariously through Lara!

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