Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Last orders please

 Like all good things, they have to end and as our Highland Adventure entered its final full day the weather broke. Clouds gathered, rain threatened
 and the sun tried to break through but was fighting a losing battle.
 Nothing could dampen our spirits though as we were heading for civilisation, or rather what passes for a town in these here parts
 Inverie which is only a short boat ride away and has its own pub!
 Obviously the photograph a tractor competition continued unabated
 with all of us looking for fresh angles in which to capture the subject.
 I forced a march to the monument which turned out not to be anything significant like a tribute to fallen heroes or downed air crews, no it was a vanity project for some rich git who missed his mum and dad and had the money or power to create this huge monument to them
 commanding the entrance to two Glens, the one on the right was last years expedition route, the one on the left is going to be the subject of next years man test. More to be revealed on that one later.
 So happy all walking, save for the trek back, was now done the pub beckoned.
 Or rather it didnt. The surly land lord who would give all people from Belgium a bad name and who's widely known antics towards paying customers makes Basil Fawlty look professional, refused to open and serve beers to the throngs waiting. I made this walkers day by giving him my lunch, a bacon, sausage and tomato sandwich. As I don't eat meat now that was no real loss to me but made his day. I met one forlorn couple on their 3rd trip in as many years who had never been able to get served.
 Unable to find any other source of refreshment we made back for the boat where 8 out of 10 vehicles were Land Rovers. There are only 8 miles of tarmac in this area of the UK so big 4 wheel drives are a necessity.
 Spotty braved the worsening weather while
 we caught supper.
The extra high tide meant Moby was now afloat. An evening of prizes and fish suppers followed, I got the prize for organising the best ever Scotland trip. I also have a nick name from the group of Bumpsie Daisy, which I much prefer over Upsie and Whoopsie my colleagues. Early nights for all as tomorrow the long trek south begins.


 Expedition day got off to a fine clear start
 heralded by a fly past of midges
 but this did nothing to diminish the splendour of the day.
 A short boat ride took us to East Stoul our home for the next 36 hours
 which we made our own as soon as we could.
Tents pitched we had a brew
 or a lie down
 admired the view and set off, our backpacks loaded with provisions for the day. The plan was to get up the hill and explore an area known as The Shealings which is a lost village of some 18 settlements on my map.
 The route up was savage and we followed a gully for a while. Yours truly had a spectacular fall just as he was about to issue a be careful its slippy warning to the others. Battered and bruised I carried on manfully. No sympathy please!
 En route we found an amazing bit of geology which was excellent in many ways, most especially as its the first time in numerous visits over 22 years that I have returned to base with a find that the legendary Tom McClean did not know about. This bacon stone as we called it was a true natural wonder and placed anywhere next to a road would have a hut next to it with some chancer selling tickets for the experience.
 Onward we plodded fighting the heat, terrain and midges.
 But it was all worth it for the spectacular vista
 in every direction
 and ahead we could just make out the lake where the lost village was to be found.
 Obviously some of us needed to pose
 or take the weight off our stomachs.
 Pretty soon we were at the lakeside and found
 two piles of stone. This was a major disappointment. A few bumps in the soil indicated more ruin from days of yore but nothing worth writing home about remained.
 So the trek back began
 with more posing
 and more steepness
 causing more sitting down
 for everyone.
 Back shore side we found this dreadful mess left by the local crofters who would be up in arms
 if we left our campsite anything like their shearing station.
 Suitably tired out evening meals were prepared
 and firewood collected
 for the roasting of marsh mallows.
 Dog tired we hit our scratches, Spotty instantly asleep
 the sunset wasted on him.
 A peaceful night as ever in a small tent with a large dog.
 Yours truly decided that action was needed to get the morning off to a good start
 so set about waking the others
 whilst enjoying the views
 which were everywhere again.
 Happy campers took some rousing
 but soon they were up and posing.
 Arty farty shots
 of old tractors became a competition
 as di who can stand the most manly way on the hike back.
 We thought we spotted Haggis on these hills.
 Finally we got back to base for tea and medals
 the weather once again
 So sunny.
 Tonight we had Christmas dinner with all the trimmings including crackers
 and once things had quietened down a beer. This beer we found on the hike, out of date by 5 years but we were pretty sure it would be OK and in any case we were desperate.
 Sure enough you could have heard a pin drop as the ring pull was pulled, a reassuring pssssshhht sound followed by a perfectly clear amber liquid fizzing into three glasses. Yours truly had put it in a mountain stream for several hours so it was quite chilled. All three of us took hesitant sips from our glasses. No one died.
It had no effect whatsoever!