As they toast the new year of 1951 together, Meg and Steven Caraford looks back at the good fortune they have enjoyed since their marriage: their small farm at Schoirhead is prospering, they have a lovely baby boy, Samuel, and close friends and family live nearby. Steven’s half-brother, Fred, a thorn in their sides, has thankfully moved to Canada, and the future looks bright. Then Steven’s mother takes in a lodger, Ruth, a vulnerable young woman with a small daughter – and a traumatic secret.
Avril Gray and Dean Scott are the best of friends, but their paths diverge when Avril goes to university. She has a promising career ahead, until fate intervenes and she must look after the family home and her young brothers. Meantime, Dean forges his own path as a dairy farmer, but his pride prevents him from asking an educated girl like Avril to marry a labourer, and his possessive mother is determined to keep the pair apart. Can they ever find happiness?
In 1906, Beth Jamieson is a little girl of eight, with honey gold curls and the sweetest nature. Her father is Mistress Fairly's right-hand man and when Nick's wife dies, Sarah Fairly treats Beth as her own.
At 16, Rachel O’Brian finds herself alone in the world and accepts a home with an old friend of her father’s, but she is unprepared for his wife’s malice. The younger Maxwells welcome Rachel to their Ayrshire farm, especially Ross, but he too has earned Gertrude Maxwell’s spite. When Ross disappears Rachel is dismayed to find herself destitute and expecting his child. How will past secrets revealed help the two find each other again?
In 1960s Scotland, the farming industry is on the brink of huge changes, becoming more mechanised and less dependent on manpower, but at Lochandee it’s a time of hope and promise. Ross and Rachel Maxwell are proud of their expanding family. Daughter Bridie and her Nick are happily married and working hard to build up their own farm, and eldest son Conan’s transport business is prospering.
Matthew Cameron’s death ends the Camerons’ lease of Nethertannoch. But Sandy Logan is determined to secure the tenancy so that he can keep his promise to the dying Matthew – that he will love and protect his daughter, Mattie. But the laird has other plans and they are forced to flee. They find refuge in the rundown farm of Fairlyden, which is owned by Daniel Munro. Daniel does not welcome strangers, but something about the pair of fugitive touches his heart. Slowly they bring the farm to prosperity.
Janet Scott loves books and learning and is happy living at the schoolhouse where her grandfather is the dominie. When her grandfather dies suddenly, everything changes, and she is sent to work for farmer Wull Foster. Life with no one to protect her is tough. So when philanthropist Josiah Saunders, an old friend of her grandfather's, takes her in, they both relish the companionship.
A new generation of the Maxwell family are farming at Wester Rullion during the 1980s. Young Paul Maxwell and his cousin, Ryan, are determined to work together to restore the farm’s prosperity. How will they achieve their ambitious aims - only with the support of their grandparents? Can they overcome the hurdles of new farming regulations? Will Ryan get his heart’s desire and marry Molly Nairne, daughter of a prosperous local farmer?
In the years following the end of World War II, life at the Glens of Lochandee is tough. Many families in the village have been bereaved, and rationing is affecting business. Nevertheless, Conan Maxwell’s new garage is doing well, and he and business partner Nick are hoping to expand. But how will their partnership survive their differing ambitions? Conan’s young sister, Bridie, is faced with a dilemma. Is her desire for Nick going to pull her away from her other great passion - her animals and farm?
Rosemary Palmer-Farr loves farming and animals and has spent much of her childhood at Bengairney Farm with her dearest friends, the Carafords. Now, as a young woman, she wants to prove herself a good businesswoman by running the gardens of her father’s dwindling estate. Her mother, Catherine, is not impressed and wants her to secure a good marriage. She looks down on the Carafords because they are only tenant farmers.
In 1930s Scotland, families are starving and thousands of farms lie derelict. But Fairlyden has survived thanks to Logan Fairly’s skill as a cattle breeder and his wife’s thriftiness. At 17, their daughter Kirsty is fiercely proud of her father, but her brother Luke has no interest in farming – and his fear of animals results in tragedy. Responsibility for Fairlyden is thrust on Kirsty just as the Second World War breaks out. But even in the face of all adversity, Kirsty retains her determination to keep the farm that has been the pride of the Fairlys for generations.
As Mistress of Fairlyden, and happily married to William Fairly, Sarah feels her life complete. But, longing to share the news of her pregnancy with her friend, Beatrice Slater, Sarah goes alone to Muircumwell Mill, where she is attacked by the vengeful Edward Slater. The consequences of the day haunt Sarah, and force her to become the keeper of a disturbing secret. Months later, Alex is born a cripple, whose deformity Sarah blames upon herself. William cannot bear the fact that his son will never be perfect.
After her brother’s death Megan Oliphant continued writing to his best friend, Steven Caraford. Now the war is over, and she is about to embark on a promising career. Steven has longed for the day when he can return to Scotland and continue farming with his family, but is dismayed to find he is no longer welcome. Although it will mean long days and little money, his heart’s desire is to have a farm of his own.
The Pringle brothers, especially Andrew, take Victoria under their wing, and she is allowed to work in the kitchens of the castle, once the domain of Mistress McCrady. As Victoria grows into a beautiful young woman, and a talented cook, she must face up to new choices and opportunities, and come to terms with a long-buried secret in her past.
Since Mark's death during the war, Victoria Pringle has lost touch with her brother's fiancée, so it is a shock when she discovers she has a nephew, Peter. He has inherited his ancestors' love of the land, but he must fight fierce opposition if he is to follow his dream. Libby and Billy Lennox are now happily married and farming at Darnlonachie. They are intent on resolving the family feud with the Crainbys in the hope that Charlotte, Billy's half-sister, can finally find the security and love she so desperately seeks.
Joe Lennox becomes deranged and blames Billy Caraford when his son is killed in a car accident, but Billy has lost his best friend and is badly injured himself. He summons his courage to go to university, but privately he regards himself as a cripple, convinced no woman could want to be his wife. Kimberley is orphaned when her father dies. She moves to Scotland with her aunt but she is nervous about changing schools until Billy helps her.
When war is declared in 1939, Andrew and Victoria Pringle are expecting their second child. What should be a happy time is marred by the threat to the peace and future of their beloved glens. As their family grows up, they take comfort in watching them thrive, delighted that young Libby, the only girl, inherits their love of the land. Libby and the laird's illegitimate grandson, Billy, become great friends. But when tragedy strikes, Billy blames himself.