As the Smugglers of Ballantrae await information about the next delivery of contraband, our sources tell us that the wait is almost over - it is likely to be delivered by a sailing ship during Ballantrae Smugglers’ week (16-22 August).
Intelligence sources have informed us that Roy Kerr, Master of La Malouine, a twin masted French Brigantine tall ship, registered in the Port of Dumfries, has been overheard locally trying to recruit a crew to transport a mysterious cargo – some say brandy, fine wines, tobacco, tea and salt – from the Isle of Man up the west coast to Ballantrae.
The tall ship is expected to sail from Dumfries to Stranraer on Sunday 16th or Monday 17th August before continuing on to Ballantrae. Locals are hoping that its arrival will coincide with their Festival particularly as their stocks of strong drink are running low.
So if you happen to be anywhere near the coast from Dumfries to Girvan during week commencing 16 August keep your eyes peeled for La Malouine. But if you see her - whatever you do - don’t tell the Exciseman!
La Malouine will be working its way north from Dumfries on Sunday 16th or Monday 17th but tides and the weather mean that the organisers cannot estimate exactly where she will be on any given day. The plan is however, that she will call in at Stranraer and possibly Girvan to give locals and visitors the opportunity to go aboard.
Ballantrae’s Smugglers’ Festival is now in its third year and is organised by a group of local volunteers. The village’s smuggling history of landing salt, tobacco, tea, brandy and wine is well documented. Each year the locals bring different aspects of the story to life with smuggling-related activities and re-enactments that keep the story alive for children and adults.
This year’s Smugglers’ Week will kick off on Sunday 16 August with a Smugglers’ Market at Craigiemains Home and Garden Centre, from 11am to 3pm with great local food and drink with tastings and characters in costume.
Monday 17 August is “Smuggler Sam’s Children’s Day” at Craigiemains - a day of activities and events for children from around Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway and visitors.
On Tuesday 18th August the focus will change to the coastline around Ballantrae. In the morning the Customs Officers and Excisemen will be searching the coast for hidden contraband in partnership with Adventure Carrick. At 4pm there will be a coastal rowing “Come and Try” session involving skiffs at Ballantrae Harbour under the expert guidance of crews from Irvine, Troon, Girvan and Carrick Coastal Rowing Clubs. At 6pm the smuggling crews will go through their paces as they prepare for the next delivery of contraband. But the Excisemen are likely to want to disrupt the proceedings.
On Wednesday 19th August the Customs Officers and Excisemen will continue to search for hidden contraband and in the afternoon there will be another “Come and Try” coastal rowing session at the harbour. At 6pm the 4 crews from the Irvine, Troon, Girvan and Carrick Coastal Rowing Clubs will compete for the Ballantrae Smugglers’ Chase Trophy.
On Thursday 20 August three new “Smugglers’ Trails” around Ballantrae will be launched - routes of varying degrees of length and difficulty from 1 mile to 9 miles each of which has a smuggling story. Throughout the day, the children of Ballantrae and Colmonell Primary Schools will be taking part in a variety of activities and events across the village. At 7pm a “Smugglers’ Supper” will be held in the “Smugglers’ Arms (The Community Hall) with sampling of the recently delivered contraband (whisky and wine), a two course supper and entertainment. The winner of the adult Ballantrae Smuggling Short Story Competition will be announced tonight. This is an event for adults.
On Friday 21 August - during the day - locals and visitors will enjoy one of the new Smugglers’ Trails and spot the Smuggler Scarecrows - many of them made by local children - positioned around the village to confuse the Excisemen. At 7pm the village will celebrate with “Music, Poetry and Smuggling Stories” (a family event) in the Smugglers Arms, including smuggling songs performed by the children and other local entertainers. The winners of the Childrens’ Smuggling Short Story Competitions will be announced this evening. The Exciseman and the local worthies involved in smuggling will put in an appearance.
Saturday 22 August – the final day of the festival - starts at 11am with a Craft Fayre in the Smugglers’ Arms with jewellery, wood products, soft goods, and lots more produced by talented local people and their friends. At 6pm teams of 2 from the village and the surrounding area will compete in the “Strongman Challenge” – feats of strength and stamina - to ensure that the village has the folk able to land the next delivery of contraband. At 9pm the festival concludes with a “Smuggler Scarecrow Gathering” and the Lighting of the Smugglers’ Beacon on the shore at Foreland.
For more information on the festival go to www.ballantrae.org.uk/smugglers