In August 1893, the Crockett family were in Laurieston. He was undertaking research for what would become the novel ‘The Raiders’. At the time Ruth was pregnant with their third child and so did not accompany Crockett and his assistant/secretary Mr Brown on the trip into the hills. Crockett had been given information that John Macmillan of Glenhead knew the hills better than any man and while he was already somewhat familiar, Crockett was keen to go in Macmillan’s company, to explore them further.
It seems that Crockett and Brown did not arrive at Glenhead till the afternoon, on what we can assume was August 15th but Crockett was determined to get to Loch Enoch, despite the late start. The following two letters refer to this trip.
Letter 1: Shows that Crockett was still (somewhat reluctantly) a minister at this time. His visit to Glenhead was in no small part responsible for the success that allowed him to leave the ministry and take up a full time career writing fiction.
Aug 17th 1893
I do not forget the great kindness that you and the Mistress showed a couple of tramps of rather disreputable appearance, and I wish to thank you again for all the splendid hospitality we received. When I got home the wife was in a great state till she heard where we had been and that we had not inconvenienced you to any terrible extent – I gave assurance on this point, and I hope that I spoke the truth.
Indeed we were so happy that at least one of the tramps hopes to revisit the hospitable home of Glenhead and see the mistress and master thereof before very long. The wife would come too but she is not going very far this weather; but another year if all goes well perhaps we may bring her up to see the marvels of Loch Valley at least. 
I have been firing her mind with Loch Enoch and its marvels and she hopes to see these too some day. I hope that it won’t be long till I see them again either, for it would take a whole day to do anything like justice to that glorious loch, circled by its granite hills.
I am going to get on with my record of the impressions of my two days and send them to my excellent critic among the hills for correction and suggestion. That was a never to be forgotten walk that we had over the moors, but someday we must start early in the morning and spend the whole day there. I would like to swim across to the island and see Loch in Loch – if that is the way to spell it.
I am sending to you the ‘Stickit Minister’ – puir laddie you will treat him kindly and gie him a place by the fire side, a gude horn spune an’ a sonsy cogfu’ o’ brose. 
The author has had some buttermilk since he cam doon here, but it’s gye an’ wersh stuff to the grand meat an’ drink o’ the Mistress o’ Glenhead.
Tell her that my wife sends her kindest regards and very best wishes for her care of her large incumbrance. I have another of my books with some pictures in it by McGeorge and also Geikie’s Picturesque Geology of Scotland, which I shall send, the one to keep and the other to read as long as she likes – when I get back to Penicuik.
We made good time yesterday. (The roads were good and we got on very quickly – 35 minutes to Eschequhan, 1 hour to House of the Hill, and the whole family to Newtown Stewart in two hours exactly – which we thought very good considering the heat of the day. We were settling in at tea in Sunnyside, Laurieston at 5.45 – only three hours and three quarters out from Glenhead.
We are busy at journalistic work today – dictating and typing. So it is wit the ‘hamm is frizzlin’ i’ the pan’ that I write this. Mr Brown sends his kindest regards. And I shake you and the good kind wife by the hand. I wish I had some Glenhead buttermilk!
Always cordially yours,
The ‘Minister’ who hopes that some day he will be ‘stickit’ at Glenhead for a day or two. He would not mind a providential thunderstorm at all.
Letter 2: While still in Laurieston (presumably at Sunnyside) Crockett writes again to thank John and Marion for their help. Already we see an easy familiarity, we might even say a kind of intimacy, established. His attitudes towards his ministry are more than hinted at. It pays the bills. It ‘washes’ his face. On leaving the ministry at the beginning of 1895 he went almost immediately to spend some time in Glenhead, before embarking on his career as ‘celebrity’ writer. In this letter we see that he yearns for the Galloway hills and the company of true friends.
Lauriston, Castle Douglas
Aug 30th 1893
Dear Kindly Critics,
Your help is invaluable. I have gone carefully over the paper, noting the corrections and thank you for every one of them. Everything is as it ought to be now, and the paper is now something like. It still needs some cutting down but I am sure of this, that nothing has been written about the district so exactly true, for a long time – that is praise not for me, but for my guide, without whom, I should have known nothing. I shall certainly come down over a Sabbath when I have been long enough at home to deserve a week without washing my face, if you can be doin’ wid me!’  Give my kindest regards to the Mistress in which my Mistress (and Master) joins. We go back on Friday. I think I understand the Pubscaig matter now; but when I come, we shall go over the ground and see for ourselves. I think I shall leave out the paragraph out of this paper, and reserve it for the next. ‘Dungeon Land in Winter.’  How’s that for a little, offhand?
The bairns are making a dreadful racket and I cannot write, 
I shall send you a screed when we get back to Penicuik.
Yours ever gratefully,
 The plan was laid for a trip to Loch Enoch in September 1894.
 Loch Enoch is a key setting in ‘The Raiders.’
 The Macmillans kept a well stocked library at Glenhead, and over the years Crockett added to it. There is a tale that, early, he pointed to Macmillans bookshelves and said ‘I’ll fill these’ and indeed over the years he sent John Macmillan first edition copies of all his works.
 House of the Hill still exists as a hostelry at Glentrool.
 Crockett had been supplementing his income through journalistic work since his student days.
 Crockett had sent ‘proofs’ to Macmillan to make sure he got the flavour and detail of the place correct.
 Suggesting that he is keen to get away from the restrictions of ‘polite’ ministerial life
 I have not (yet) found any reference to this, and am happy for any information that can be given.
 This probably refers to an article and later material for The Raiders (perhaps the chapter ‘Sixteen Drifty Days.’
 Reminds us that Crockett was at the time the father of two (soon to be three) small children – with all that that entails.
[11 The correspondence between Crockett (and Ruth) and the Macmillans continued through till his death in 1914.