Viola Stirling’s Nature Diary: 24 Aug 1919

Viola Stirling, aged 12, began her nature diary early on a Sunday morning in Touch Glen. Her entries begin with her sighting of a roe deer. This seems to encourage her to venture out again in the early evening in hope of finding more deer near Loch Maule.

The Stirlingshire OS Name Books (1858-1861) describes Touch Glen:

“A romantic glen through which runs the Touch Burn; A well kept foot path winds along it leading from Touch House to Gilmour’s Linn…”

Viola names various locations, including Ash Pool, Deer Ford, Loch Maule Track and Tit Copse. These may be names that she has grown up with or that she even created herself to help her identify her local surroundings. Please let us know if these names mean anything to you!


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Aug 24. 1919, 7am. Touch Glen Near Ash Pool and Deer Ford

I saw something red moving among the trees

towards the burn. As it emerged into the

open I saw that it was a roe deer. It went straight

towards Ash Pool and commenced eating

ash leaves then it moved over to Deer Ford

and drank then waded across and jumped

on to the bank, in so doing, it disloged

a stone (this was the first sound it made)

stood listening a moment, heard me

move, bounded off and disappeared

into Tit Copse. It stood about four feet high

with horns the shape of a Y, and about five

inches long. It evidently came frequently

to that spot as there were several ash

sprigs which had been bitten off some time ago.


Aug 24 1919 6.30 pm Loch Maule Track

A few paces away from Loch Maule I came on

fresh slot of a deer and followed it up. It

went straight along an evidently well-used

track for there were many other slots some

old, some new, but some as fresh as the one

I was following. Stooping down I smelt a

queer, pungent smell which grew stronger as

I advanced. Suddenly the deer track which

had been running paralell to the cart


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track joined it and here the slot became very

clear and the smell of deer very strong.

Suddenly up sprang the deer I was after and

away into the woods so quickly that I obtained

only a fleeting glimpse of it. I followed it a

little way then lost the trail and went home.