Carbeth offers sanctuary to former social worker

Sara Jane Kirkwood outside her hut at Carbeth Community.
Sara Jane Kirkwood outside her hut at Carbeth Community.

A former social worker who went to live in the Carbeth huts when she developed post traumatic stress disorder has written a book about the area.

Sara Jane Kirkwood (43) was a social worker for 20 years and specialised in helping traumatised teenagers.

However due to the stress of her work she began to suffer anxiety and depression and lost weight. After losing her job and her house she had a nervous breakdown and went to live in her family’s wooden hut at Carbeth near Strathblane two and a half years ago.

Sara had spent a lot of time there during her childhood with her parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles so she had fond memories of the place and thought the basic lifestyle and surrounding countryside would help her to heal.

Her hut has no running water so she gets it from a well and she doesn’t have a bath or a shower - just a sink which she fills with water boiled in her kettle. Electricity is supplied by a solar panel so there is none in the winter, and she has a portable toilet which uses rainwater while candles provide light at night.

Despite these hardships Sara is happy there, she says the community has helped her through difficult times and writing this book has also been very therapeutic.

The stories in the collection, which is called ‘The Seven Sisters of Carbeth’, were passed down through generations of her family and date back as far as 200 years.

Sara said: “I remember being told many of these fables as a child and thought I should record them for future generations in case they get forgotten.

“It’s a particularly good book for all the children who live here.”

The book is available in Milngavie Bookshop.