Pilgrimpace's Blog

a ring of bright water

The two excellent radio programmes Terry Nutkins in the Ring of Bright Water are available to listen to on the BBC Radio 4 Extra website here.

I can’t recommend these highly enough.  The late Terry Nutkins was a major figure in my childhood exposure to wildlife through programmes like Animal Magic.  These programmes tell the story of his childhood with Gavin Maxwell and the otters:

Following the sad death of Terry Nutkins, we revisit two documentaries he made about his unusual childhood spent with the author, Gavin Maxwell, in the remote west highlands.

When Terry Nutkins was 13 he moved from London to the isolated west highlands to live with Maxwell, whose most famous book is ‘Ring of Bright Water’ . In 2009 – forty years after Maxwell’s death – Terry told the remarkable story of his life with this mercurial man and his famous otters, Edal and Teko.

‘Ring of Bright Water’ is, arguably, the finest book ever written about a man’s relationship with landscape and wildlife. Published in 1960, it tells the story of Maxwell’s life in the now almost mythical setting of Camusfearna. His poetic observations of otter behaviour and the detailed sketches and photographs in the book helped to change – on a worldwide basis – the reputation of these animals which were widely persecuted at the time.

Terry Nutkins had a boy’s own adventure in a uniquely beautiful landscape. But he also found himself living a peculiar existence, in virtual isolation, with a man who was as charming as he was difficult, and whose depression led to severe mood swings. As Terry said, he had to grow up quickly.

And I think time for me to find again my copy of The Ring of Bright Water and put it on my pile of books to read over the summer.


2 Comments so far
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Ah, yes… this reminds me of the time when I made a pilgrimage to the magical Camusfearna…


Comment by The Solitary Walker

For anyone who would like to know more about Gavin Maxwell, his books, or books written by other people who knew him well, there is now a Facebook Group “The Gavin Maxwell Society.” New members welcome!

Comment by Phoenix Nineteen

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