STRAVAIGIN the weel worn path tae Wigtown yet agane fir the annual Buik Festival. Drivin ower whit wid hae bin some o the auld Drove Roads that hunners o years syne wid hae seen herds o hielant coos makkin their wey tae the samen airt tae be penned up in the braid boulevard that is the toun centre, oan their wey tae the meat mercats o England. The toun centre gies Wigtown much o its kenspeckle character. Navigating the windin hill roads ah wis taen bi the achin beauty o this braw airt o the kintra. The rugged hills claithed in a smirr o misty rain, the wild goats that courie at the roadside waitin oan a bite o opportunist scran frae traivellers an tourists, the colours chaingin tae the yella an broun tints o Hairst. Shades o back-end in the trees.

When ah arrived oan the Sunday it wis peltin wi rain frae the heivins. Jynin the sea o umbrellas ah jyned the thrang o fowk in Wigtown main street an announced ma arrival at the Book Company Oaffice. The Book Company wir aye housed in the Coonty Buildins, but they nou hae a fantoosh new office jist alang the street in whit wis the Historic Newspapers shoap. Ah wis gien ma walcum “goody bag” (a kindae Sunday schuil poke fir adults!) wi some Rowan Glen cheddar, jaur o chilli chutney, boattle o local beer an a hauntle o magazines. Nicely packaged in a braw hessian bag wi the Wigtown Fest logo oan it. Then ah checked in at ma digs; Hillcrest Guesthouse. Hillcrest wis great! They cuidnae hae duin ocht mair fir ye, wir walcumin, frienly an byordnar helpfu! The place wis spotless an the food first cless! The “full Scottish breakfast” differed frae an englis yin bi haein a slice o Haggis instead o black puddin; a nice touch ah thocht!

Aince settled in ah veesited ma pal Laura Mustian at Byre Books. She wis thrang daelin wi the sea o festival veesitors, but we managed a bit catch-up blether. Thence aff tae the main event o the day (leistweys it wis fir me!) the talk in the Festival Marquee anent the raicently discuivert Viking treasuir hoard, foun in the Ken Valley bi metal detectorists. This hoard is aiblins the maist important treasuir hoard e’er foun in Scotland. It hus bin valued at aamaist £2 million pund! Tae discuss the “warld” o the Viking hoard they hud D&G council archaeologist Andrew Nicholson (wha wis praisent at the discuivery!); kenspeckle historian Prof Ted Cowan (wha’s aye warth the entrance fee!) an a young Professor, Dr Eleanor Barraclough frae Durham University. As is aye-an-oan usual wi a stage fou o academics the sperks wir suin flyin anent the different theories an ideas raised bi the hoard. It wis an inspirin talk that really engaged the marquee’s packt hoose. Ane o the big questions frae the hoard wis tackled heid-oan when they hud a straw-poll tae fuin oot gin the fowk wantit the hoard oan permanent display in Gallowa. An owerwhelmin nummer ettled that they wantit it kept in Kirkcudbirght. Sae tak tent you anes at the National Museum o Scotland! Andy Nicholson an Ted Cowan are big beardy, brawny men, an ah can jist see a muckle Long Boat wi thaim at the helm sailin up the Firth o Forth, anchorin at the new brig, an makkin a raid oan Embra tae tak back whit is richtfully Gallowa’s treasuir!

Local poet Hugh McMillan read commissioned poems anent the hoard, as did Marjorie Lotfi Gill, that claucht the speerit o the treasuir’s possible back-stories. Ah retired wi Hugh later tae discuss lofy leeterary matters – in the Gallowa Inn. Yin o the few airts at the fest whaur ye cuid hear a guid Gallowa accent.

Ah hud an early nicht. Neist mornin ah wis daein Scots leid warkshoaps wi the P5, 6, 7, weans o Wigtownshire in the muckle marquee. Ither scrievers o weans leeterature an story tellers wir alsae daein their schtick wi the weans; the likes o Lari Don an Josh Lacey. Ah hud the mair’s twa hunner weans roarin oot braw Scots wirds an Scots nems fir common fairmyaird animals. Afore the efternuin session wi the weans ah taen a brek in Sean Bythell’s “writer’s retreat” in “The Book Shop”. Here bi chaunce ah sat neist tae a young lass cried Sarah Corbett, a native o Everton but leevin in London. She wis involved wi “Craftavism” – leeterally the airt o uisin crafts as a means o peaceful protest tae illicit change in society. She wis a bricht young thing an it wis uplifin tae hear sic a positive message frae somebody, an no the usual mulliegrumphin ye aye hear frae maist fowk! She seemt lik somebody wha wid mak their merk oan the warld.

The theme o this year’s festival is Revolution, an they wir showin a series o ‘revolutionary’ films in the wee converted cinema aa week. Oan Monday nicht ah went tae see Sergei Eisenstein’s October, 1917 – his seelent epic anent the Russian revolution. It is amazin hou guid this film wis – an hou prescient it still is fir oor ain times.

Oan Tuesday mornin ah duin a session wi Higher Cless students at Douglas Ewart Heich Schuil in Newton Stewart. Their inspirational teacher Gillian Barclay (Principal o englis an modren leids) enthusiastically introduced me, an we hud a braw time discussin poetry, Scots language an haein a go at scrievin a bit verse in Scots, which the young anes did brilliantly! The lilt o their true an beautiful Gallowa accents wis music tae ma lugs!

Wigtown Buik Fest is bigger an better this year than evir! Check it oot oanline at; Thair is truly somethin fir aa the faimily, wi braw local food, great pubs an bars, aa in a byordnar braw naitrel settin. The Fest rins til Sunday 1st October, sae gang an fill yer heids wi buikish lear!