Everything passes …

… everything changes, just do what you think you should do – To Ramona, Bob Dylan.

More than fifty years separate these images and much has changed in the intervening years, not least me.  In the earlier photograph I have adopted a ‘workman-like’ pose in contrast to my usual preference for pulling faces at the camera. In the later image I prefer to hide behind the lens.

The cars from the 1950s are lined up for the Ballachulish Ferry which is now replaced by the bridge, visible in the second image.  The hotel remains but the family car has transformed from plain and utilitarian into a sleek object of beauty.  In the older image we are gathered around my Dad’s Ford Consul (331 ELG) while the car in front, an ugly-duckling Vauxhall Victor, belonged to my Uncle Ed – they should have kept the Jaguar.

In 1959 we were travelling north to Cullen in Banffshire, a journey that took forever with an overnight stop in Callendar.  We used the only section of motorway built in the UK at the time but it did little to reduce journey times – the 8.5 mile Preston Bypass which eventually transformed into part of the M6.

In 2015 I have driven alone to play golf at Traigh near Arisaig, a brief few days away, not feasible in the 1950s.  On my return I could not resist the delights of the Dragon’s Tooth Course squeezed between mountains and loch, a few hundred yards from the Ballachulish Hotel.  It is a fine test of golf and feels like similar mature courses celebrating their centenaries but in 1959 it did not exist, the fields of Glenn a` Chadias were still being used for grazing cattle.  Everything passes, everything changes.

000-Ballachulish 1959 The queue lane ...
This final image from RMWeb.co.uk shows the ferry in action in 1962 from the other side of the loch, with the Ballachulish Hotel visible in the background. An early implementation of roll-on, roll-off.
003-Ferry postcard


  1. Su Leslie · August 5, 2015

    So true! And such a wonderful family photo. I love the way the menfolk are wearing ties.

    • northumbrianlight · August 6, 2015

      Wonderful isn’t it – over the years I think we have got better at smart-casual. Like many families, I have pictures of my grandfather at the beach in a suit.

      • Su Leslie · August 6, 2015

        I live in NZ – not so sure about the “smart” casual! But yes, I have photos of my grandad and uncle in suit in tie at the beach. I can’t imagine how uncomfortable it must have been!

  2. Tish Farrell · August 5, 2015

    Hm. It’s a bit unnerving when you can measure times past in half centuries. On the other hand it’s good that one still can 🙂 V. nice post, and thanks for Bob too. He’s someone who’s worn well through many variations.

    • northumbrianlight · August 6, 2015

      Thanks Tish – yes, very unnerving. Not many years after the photo was taken I was trying to build an identity based on the Dylan album covers, none more so than Blonde on Blonde. In 1959 that was all waiting to happen – funny old world innit 🙂

  3. Cate Franklyn · August 5, 2015

    You certainly were a handsome little rascal!

  4. LaVagabonde · August 6, 2015

    Always interesting to see your before and afters. The view hasn’t changed all that much, really. Just some new addition to the building, a bridge, and cars that would have seemed space age back then. 😉

    • northumbrianlight · August 6, 2015

      You are right Julie, it is all very recognisable. I guess the biggest change is to the level of human activity – where once it was all bustle and noise as cars and people queued for the ferry, now everything rushes by over the bridge and bypasses this quiet backwater. Everything passes … I only just thought of that 🙂

  5. Sue · August 6, 2015

    Ah, nostalgia, Robin!

  6. easyweimaraner · August 6, 2015

    I sometimes wish we could turn back the time…
    btw: I love your hairstyle!

    • northumbrianlight · August 6, 2015

      I would like to visit the past but not hang around too long – I would certainly have some words of advice for the small boy with the strange hair 😀

  7. socialbridge · August 6, 2015

    So evocative, Robin. There I was like an eejit looking for the second photo of you!

  8. patrick · August 6, 2015

    If you were heading on up to Cullen, wonder if you might have later been on the old A9 – https://www.flickr.com/photos/patrickdown/20344617401/in/album-72157656845677535/ now a rather bleak section of the Perth-Inverness cycle route I was using on Tuesday

    • northumbrianlight · August 6, 2015

      Almost certain I would think Paddy and possibly a few times since. I don’t remember when the A9 was straightened out on that section but I think we had some slow journeys north and south in the 1970s, possibly even the 80s. I had it in my head that you were in foreign parts in early August – where did that come from I wonder.

      • northumbrianlight · August 7, 2015

        PS – its not that long since the A9 went through Dalwhinnie rather than passing it by.

      • patrick · August 8, 2015

        Might have been Matt who was going abroad in August? Didn’t have any plans for foreign trips this year but just had an offer of a place to stay for free in Corsica for a week at the end of the month and hoping I can get the time off work and backpedal on an earlier offer of dog-sitting…

        Cycle route still goes through Dalwhinnie – this is the cheery sign you pass going south: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bl6/1641229684

      • northumbrianlight · August 8, 2015

        Slightly dispiriting sign – abandon hope 🙂

  9. Thom Hickey · August 10, 2015

    Thanks. Charmingly nostalgic. Makes me want to head north! And, who know maybe … One day I just might! Regards Thom.

    • northumbrianlight · August 10, 2015

      Many thanks Thom – I recommend it, particularly the route to Durness described in Golf in the Wild (even if you don’t play golf) – apologies for the plug 😉

  10. restlessjo · August 11, 2015

    Still a lovely part of the world, Robin, but I did like those ferries. Normally I like my bridges but that one’s not much of a substitute 🙂 I’ll make do with Bob!

    • northumbrianlight · August 11, 2015

      Me too – I was disappointed when the Skye and Kylesku bridges were built to replace the ferries but at least they are attractive – the Ballachulish bridge is a bit of an abomination but then it was designed in the late 60s I guess. This is the Kylesku ferry in action – a similar ‘RoRo’ system to Ballachulish:

  11. Mél@nie · August 25, 2015

    oui, c’est vrai: TOUT passe, us all, too… 🙂

  12. Pingback: Ard Neakie | northumbrian : light

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