Thursday, 25 August 2016

Highland adventures part one

 With Stan loaded to the brim with food, expedition gear (boats, more food, tents, a bit more food) and an action Berner perched on top
 Spotty and yours truly headed steadily north until the road ends at Mallaig harbour
 where Stan was dumped on the quayside
 and swapped for a more practical form of transport to complete the journey to Ardintigh Bay.
 Normally yours truly hikes the last 7 miles across country to meet the boat but his time I joined my fellow adventure seekers and their carrier bags of worldly goods on the boat ride.
 Being a salty seadog I struck a suitably heroic pose
 and looked with some trepidation at the Scottish summer around us.
 Having been trained by the Navy the old boat skills soon came back and it wasn't long
 before we made landfall, unpacked, ate a quick meal
 and retired to our bunks in the luxury appointed villas.
 Morning dawned despite sneaky low clouds and we
 began to have fun, Spotty in particular let his hair down.
 So another week of Highland Adventures began
 centred around Jocks Lodge.
or whereever we lay our heads, that was our home.
First mission after team build exercises was to go to Calgary and re-erect Moses' cross which fell down again after the crofters set fire to the hill. I wont go over the tale of the Columbian drug smuggler seeking penance by carrying this massive piece of wood 300 metres up a Scottish bonsai mountain, suffice to say he was forgiven, at least we hope he was, and every year we put it back up after the annual fire party knocks it down. Spotty tried his best to shift it but it took two butch do the job properly.
Now the reason for the annual fire setting is to burn off the heather and allow less invasive aggressive species to flourish. A mark of how clean it all is up here is the abundance of wildlife including these huge dragon flies.
Not sure who shot Rudolf's cousin but this ex wildlife was on the wall of the chapel in Tarbert, which was open for a change. We always go to Tarbert and and always are alone, this year was different with almost the entire population of Malliag milling around on the shore waiting for boats to take them back after a hike along the shore of Loch Morar for charity. Quite a few were worse the wear for lager, al were exceptionally friendly and one of the boat skippers was the Queen's cousin who was up visiting Cameron McKintosh he of west end fame.
Some of the more exotic wildlife had yet to be found, in particular we wanted to find the elusive Haggis which some of the younger members of our group began to believe in. As to bears, they believe.
Dawn er...dawned it should... on day two with the promise of better weather and less midges who were bastards yesterday. I was happy to have found my midge net which for some reason I had misplaced in my kit so was bitten aplenty.
Today's mission was to explore the far side of Loch Morar and climb a peak at the back if Mr McKintosh's abode. Spotty made sure he had a log to carry and we were off.
Glen Tarbert links Tarbet with Morar , this is the almost middle, the strata of the rock demonstrating the massive geological turbulence of days gone by.
The shore of Loch Morar provided a number of compulsory oooh aaah look at the view tea stops, especially as at this one one of the group fell in so we waited while he drip dried.
This was also the point where I found it unwise to give anyone your camera.
The hike followed the shoreline, under a massive sky.
Next compulsory stop hove into view and we spent an hour or so basking in the sunshine, eating sandwiches and generally loving life .
Spotty who chose to do the walk wearing  massive fur coat cooled off
before sleeping off a large cheese sandwich.
Time to move on and some of the older members of the group needed some help getting up
but pretty soon we were skyward once more cresting the hills between us and Ardentigh.
The best view in Scotland was laid out before us, you get a feel for how big this place is
and how lovely it must be to live in the white house down there on the shoreline, until you run out of milk.
Heading down took longer than expected as we kept stopping to take one more photo
or composing shots to encompass the bay and the view.
Eventually we were down shore side once more to find Tom McClean had used the time we were away to pilot a two man super heavy fibreglass canoe
some 30 km up and down and across the loch visiting neighbours and eating their cakes.
So another cation packed day drew to a close
with an extraordianry number of photographs being taken of the sunset in a bid to get the best one ever.
My colleagues managed to suck their gut in long enough for this sun worship pic to be taken. Seconds later their bellies grew 3x the size and they ran inside to escape the midge onslaught.
Me being slimmer ...yeah right...had no such problem and was brave enough to stay outdoors as insect food in order to get this pic.

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