At the Loch of the Green Corrie by Andrew Greig

For many years Andrew Greig ( saw the poet Norman MacCaig ( as a father figure.

Months before his death, MacCaig’s enigmatic final request to Greig was that he fish for him at the ‘Loch of the Green Corrie’; the location, even the real name was mysterious. His search took in days of outdoor living, meetings, and fishing with friends in the remote hill lochs of the Assynt district in North West Scotland. It led, finally, to the waters of the Green Corrie, which would come to reflect Greig’s own life, his thoughts on poetry, geology, The Scottish Enlightenment, and land ownership in the Highlands. The ambiguous roles of whisky, love and male friendship are never far away.

Full of reflection, insight and glittering aperçus, the tale of the trip to Assynt is itself interspersed with memories of past experience in the lives of Greig and his two companions.

Here are some observations to whet your appetite.

p.55 [of MacCaig’s poetry] ‘Yet I am not alone in finding his best poems shine in the mind like fireflies in the night’.

p.83 [on noting the discoveries of geology] ‘The planet is not stable and never has been. Why should it be? It was not made for us. We are here because of its instability. One day we may not be, for the same reason’

p.88 [on observing nature] ‘Sometimes the more you know the less you see. What you encounter is your knowledge, not the thing itself’

p.89 [on Art] ‘For us poems, novels, songs, music, oh very well let’s say Art, is not a pleasant frivolity, a decoration daubed over the ‘real world’, but as real as it gets’.

p.94 [on ‘The Living Mountain‘ by Nan Shepherd] ‘The product of years of stravaiging round in the Cairngorms, that long essay understands and conveys better than anyone the absolute physicality, the immanence of the transcendence that abruptly swoops and plucks you in its hooked talons out of the ordinary and carries you not away from this world but into the beating unsayable heart of it’.

p.101 ‘Messing up completely may free you from the idea that other people spoil their lives by being stupid, wicked, irresponsible or just lazy’

p.119 ‘ I want more time and less of everything else’

p.227 ‘If some cosmologists are right all moments in time lie alongside each other monumental and particular as the Cuillin Ridge. Apparently we suffer from a purely local perspective as we clamber and scramble our way along our lives’.

p.310 ‘ I see what we’ve been up to here. Which is tracing ways we take the world and remodel it from within. Call it metaphor or memory, opinion or mindspin, it remains the incorrigible subjectivity we call our life’.

At the Loch of the Green Corrie is a richly atmospheric narrative, a celebration of losing and recovering oneself in a unique landscape, the consideration of a particular culture, and a homage to the remarkable world of Norman MacCaig.

Check if this profound memoir is in stock at your local library here by consulting the online catalogue at

336 pages in Riverrun

First published 2010

ISBN  978-0857381361

‘Not getting what you once dreamed of is the story of our lives’ … Andrew Greig.

Andrew Greig

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