Monday, 1 October 2012

Epitaphs and Inscriptions - Who Was Bill Lobban?

Cairn, Loch Lomond, East side, Durham-Iona Pilgrimage 2011

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:13 King James Version (KJV)

As I trawled though our pilgrimage photos yesterday in search of  something to use for a blog banner, I came across a couple  of pictures which I'm sure tell a story. This cairn and the accompanying inscription can be found not far from the Inversnaid Hotel on the Eastern shores of Loch Lomond. Not an easy stretch, with it's craggy twists and turns up and down from the shoreline; our experience of that section wasn't pleasant;  even experienced walkers appreciate the need to treat  this particular section of the West Highland Way (22Km, I think, if you take it in one hop) with great  respect.  We walked  it in several stages, our mileage that particular day being  one of the shortest in the entire trip - about 6 miles, but it was the hardest 6 miles we've ever done,  struggling through  rain and mist, only getting to the far end just in time to catch the last   ferry across to Ardlui. I say, 'ferry,' it's a small boat, which you hail by raising a buoy up a mast on the shore. By that stage, there is no road at all; if you miss the boat, your only options are either to retrace your steps right back to Inversnaid or  spend the night in a nearby bothy. (not 4 star accomodation, I can tell you, we checked!) 

Who was Bill Lobban then? What tale of heroism lies behind this inscription? I guess we'll never know. I'm not the first to ask; a quick web search shows that  many  walkers have discovered this memorial over the years,  wondered about the events of 23rd November 1975, and received no answer. His isn't the only tragedy to take place along the lochside; apparently the Inversnaid Hotel knew of two other walkers who died nearby more recently, but of Bill, nothing. Passing it, in the pouring rain and mist, just as we were about to begin the climb upwards was both a humbling and a sobering experience. Like     that of Henry West, the human story behind this simple memorial seems destined to remain unknown and untold, except, perhaps to those closest to those it commemorates. Rest in Peace, Bill Lobban, whoever you were. I guess that inscription says it all.


  1. Saw the memorial for the first time yesterday and did a little research -,5294607

  2. Thanks so much, Derek; I guessed that might have been the explanation. You must be pretty fit to be attempting the walk at this time of year - I can imagine that conditions aren't ideal at the moment. I must say, I'd query the local authority's statement in the last para re there being nothing arduous about the route. Whilst I can imagine that it might seem that way to experienced climbers and weather can change in an instant and even veteran hillwalkers can become unstuck regardless; a friend of the family was killed on Snowdon not many years after the above; the reason remains a mystery. Bill was indeed a brave man; that memorial is well deserved.

  3. William Lobban is my daughter's paternal grandfather and just discovered the story her father told me is actually true. Proud his blood runs through my daughter's veins as he must have been a selfless, caring and heroic man

  4. I'm sure he must have been. You must all be so proud to have had such a person in the family. It makes you wonder how many other tales of quiet heroism are there for the traveller to discover.


Welcome to my blog. I always love receiving comments; do feel free. If you're visiting from the A-Z challenge (or even if you're not!) could I thank you for your patience in using the dreaded captcha verification thingy. It's a pain, I know, but I've had problems with spam in the past and would rather keep Greenpatches as a junk-free zone.