A teenager is gearing up for a Herculean challenge to help save a crumbling museum dedicated to a little-known Scottish poet whose words inspired Robbie Burns.
Sixteen-year-old Sam Allen will climb the equivalent of Mount Everest to raise cash for Michael Bruce’s Cottage in his home town of Kinnesswood, Kinross-shire.
The visitor attraction was set up to honour the 18th Century writer, who became known as the “Gentle Poet of Lochleven”.
However, the cottage, where Bruce was born and died, is in need of around £10,000 worth of repairs.
Sam hopes to raise at least half that amount with an epic run later this month. He will race up nearby Bishop’s Hill over 20 days – taking seconds off his time each day – covering the equivalent height of Mount Everest.
He will be joined by friends Angus Gray and Euan Hardie.
“In the Kinross-shire area, the cottage is probably the second most well known attraction after the castle at Loch Leven,” Sam said. “But it’s in a bad way.
“The floor, ceiling and walls are really in need of renovation and the walls in the garden, outside the cottage, are also pretty weather-worn.
“This is damage that has been caused through time, and because of lockdown, the Michael Bruce Memorial Trust – which looks after the cottage – haven’t been getting the donations then need to meet the cost of repairs.”
Sam said he first visited the cottage with primary school when he was about nine and he had warm memories of its place in the landscape.
“The following summer, my grandparents came over from America and I was able to show them around and show them what live in Scotland would have looked like,” he said.
“I want other generations to be able to have that kind of memory and that kind of experience.”
Sam said: “It has been there for so long, and I really don’t want to see it go to waste.
“The garden, for example, could be a great community asset once we are all able to meet up again.”
He will begin his run on March 20, and has already started training.
Who was Michael Bruce?
During his short lifetime – Bruce died of tuberculosis at 21 – the poet wrote 12 Scottish Paraphrases known as Gospel Sonnets, and more than 40 poems including The Ode to the Cuckoo.
For nearly two centuries, some of his works were wrongly ascribed to the Rev John Logan, who borrowed manuscripts from Bruce’s parents and published some under his own name.
Several lines written by Bruce later inspired Robert Burns, including his piece Musiad, which tells of a mouse killed by a farmer.