“There it is,” the high-pitched cry pierced the gloom. As one, we looked across the dark, calm waters of the loch. Where once had been foreboding darkness we watched as the beam of a lantern appeared, illuminating one of the openings high in the castle wall. It was a wonder that no-one else could have seen it but it was our agreed signal. We trotted down to the shingle bank and positioned ourselves on either side of the little wooden boat resting just above the seaweed strewn tideline. Taking up positions either side we pushed the boat into the water stern first. Then all four of us, standing knee deep in our breeches in the cold water, clambered aboard. We took up the oars and carefully fed them through the muffled rowlocks. Each one wrapped in strips of cloth to cover the sound of the creaking oars.
“Easy lads,” the coxswain breathed, “we don’t want any splashing to be heard or the game will be up.” We strained at the oars and the dinghy slid silently across the waters with barely a ripple. It was only a short pull but we realised the current was against us and though the evening was cold I could feel the sweat forming under my tunic and salty streams running down my brow. We finally got to the shore below the castle wall and shipping the oars ran the little craft up the sand. We three oarsmen leapt over the gunwale and leaving the coxswain seated in the stern, we started to drag the boat out of the water.
The lantern still shone from the walls but the beach seemed ominously quiet. It was supposed to be a secret mission. Our purpose was to take the sole prisoner held in the castle back to the mainland where a troop of horsemen were waiting to accompany her carriage on the route to Edinburgh.
From high on the wall we suddenly heard a shout and more lights started to appear. When the first discharge was heard we realised the plan had failed. We scrambled back into the boat and started to pull for our lives. Musket balls were raining down and forming fountains all around the boat but luckily none of us were hit.We finally arrived at the far side and found it deserted. It appeared everyone had run away when the first shots were heard. We thought it best to do the same ready to plan our next attempt at rescue.