Wild Walks in Scotland – Isle Of Skye

The most intriguing thing about the Isle of Skye is its attached, albeit by a bridge, to the island which I call home. Nowhere else within the UK has the same ancient; almost mythical feel about it. I visited the island a few weeks ago with my old pal Jamie. We parked Storm (07 Citreon Relay 2.2 HDI 100 L1h1 medium panel van) in the large lay by just after Kilamarie. The destination was Camasunary Bothy, a 3 mile hike over a small hill.

The hike took me and Jamie around an hour and a half, mainly due to our severe fatness and all round general poor health. It is an absolute cracker of a walk, for such a small hike it really is staggeringly beautiful. Of course, we were both armed with sea fishing rods. After cresting the hill and walking down to Camsunary we stopped to recover our breath on some rocks by the sea.Almost immediately upon our arrival small fish were jumping just yards out from the rocks upon which we were perched. I eagerly tackled up a spinning outfit and got stuck in, then the darndest thing happened….

An entire family, two adults, 3 kids and dog emerged, in the sea, from around the headland to my left, swimming frantically with a rather large log in tow, all supported by a couple of buoys. Straight through my swim. Now, bear in mind, this isn’t an inner city park lake full of people and dogs, I had driven for 14 hours, to one of the remote parts of the country where you don’t expect to see anyone for miles and  5 minutes after arrival, two generations of an entire bloody family with pets swan through my swim.

It turns out that the offending family live in the house of Camasunary, which it just so happens has no access via road and the only way to get wood for heating is to swim it around from Elgor. To think I get pissed off when I have to put my beer down and walk 3 metres to the heating programmer in my house to pop the heating on. Despite killing my swim, the family seemed really nice and I take my hat off to them for their efforts, although I do think really you should only do that once and then invest in a boat.

The fishing eventually recovered and despite having 5 takes in 5 casts I couldn’t get a fish to stick. Probably need to sharpen a few of the hooks on my old lures to be honest. It must be noted that throughout my short session there were sea trout jumping everywhere. I would love to come back with a fly rod and some waders, but I most certainly would not like to do the walk again especially carrying my knackered old waders.

After fishing, we retired to an already half full bothy. The Camasunary Bothy comprises of 5 sleeping rooms and 2 lounges both with fires. One of the main rooms was already occupied by 3 Frenchman, a German, and a guitar playing Czech. Naturally, we opted for the empty room. After a long day we got our Trangia’s out and started rustling up some dinner. Whilst Jamie cooked up some Pasta N Sauces, on the menu for me (due to a logistical error back at Storm), was a delicious mix of mushroom soup, processed peas and rice. As I was polishing off my disgusting dinner, 4 merry Czech men walked through the door. After briefly sizing each up (always a wise move in a shared bothy to make sure your new roomies aren’t “murderer looking” types); we all tentatively started small talk. Soon, a can of Stella was offered to me which I readily accepted. This was a really kind act, I would certainly not carry beers over that hill and then give them away, willy nilly, to a fat Englishman, whom, I had just met in the middle of nowhere, especially one eating one of the weirdest dinners anyone has ever seen.

As the night progressed, slowly, more and more booze was produced and eagerly consumed. I contributed my vintage bottles of Aldi London Gin and Napoleon Brandy. These went down a treat, you would have thought they were bottles of Hennessy Cognac or a nice cold Taittinger. I suppose when your out in the wilds these little luxuries go a long way, just ask swimming log family.

 

The Road to Nowhere – Lake District

Certain places that you visit stick in your mind forever, Ennerdale Water in the Lake District is one of these rare places. Its immense, quiet and has that inhospitable beauty that only truly wild glacial lakes have. It’s surrounded by huge peaks contrasted with lush woodland, the perfect place for wild camping. There was even chance of a huge wild brown trout from the crystal clear water.

I think no mater how bloated and obese a man becomes pushing pencils round a desk all week, there is always a primeval part of a man’s brain that simply wants to go back out into the wild and just survive for a few days. I always feel a boyish excitement building for weeks before big trips like this one. It’s such a simple pleasure, just being out camping making a fire, keeping warm, keeping dry. In this situation the fishing really does become secondary. Sharing a trip like this with someone like Jamie is even better, a proper boy’s own adventure.

We had wanted to fly fish at Ennerdale for months and months, but when we arrived we just sat and stared at the water for hours. We did wet a line after a few hours but I was more fulfilled just sitting by the water taking in the stunning landscape in front of me. Jamie, I think, shared my sentiment. There are very few places which have had this effect on me. We did eventually get bored, however, drink a box of wine and set a branch on fire, the Ennerdale trout were safe on this trip.

 

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