Three Thursdays ago, my friend Paul (PCal) and I left Cornwall for our first trip to Scotland. Only ten hours later (much to our surprise), we arrived in Ardrossan and proceeded to camp on the harbour wall...Catching the 7am Friday ferry meant we first caught sight of Arran as dawn broke a few miles off Brodick; a great view and the first part of Scotland we'd ever seen in daylight. After introducing ourselves to Bob the FC ranger, we spent the next three days recceing the various beats and generally getting to know the island. I'll let the following photographs tell the rest of the story.
Watching the deer above Lochranza, after visiting the Arran distillery - enjoying a tipple of Arran Gold as I type...
Checking the rangefinder works on Sunday afternoon - The southern lighthouse on Holy Island, (ranged from the living room of our Lamlash apartment):
After spotting a hind & calf Monday evening while orientating ourselves with the ground, we decided to take a look - but they were almost 70m or so directly above us...A good introduction to the terrain! Especially when we reached the top and PCal hadn't locked the car....back down we went, only to return to the ridge 10 minutes later!
PCal's two hinds & two calves on the first morning - a real baptism of fire for him after not stalking for a few months. We caught the group at first light, presumably returning to the forestry higher up. The first hind and calf were taken prone at circa 250 yards, then the others ran on slightly, so after a 50 yard dash PCal went prone and took the second pair. All the while, the remaining member of the group (a spiker) looked on unconcerned!
Getting stuck in on the second hind:
Tuesday afternoon with intermittent rain / low cloud, we found a suitable high point and setup a couple of laying up positions that covered the ground:
What the view should have been like...
DPM works well in this terrain (with Tuesday afternoons vantage point in the distance). Also sticks are essential for walking, if you wish to survive! Especially when descending off the hill and through steep clear fell by head torch in the evenings.
The terrain is VERY tough going in places and presents a decent challenge in itself! Wednesdays mornings dawn accent from the car (just visible) a couple of hundred metres below:
More traditional stalking Wednesday evening....
Thursday morning at 08.00, after getting into position before first light.
Large pockets of heather (400+ yards long) amongst the forestry, great for passing the time and having a spot of lunch with a view:
Remember to always use protection....As the temperature increased throughout the day it expanded considerably (much to our amusement) at least proving the airtight/waterproof seal - essential given the changeable nature of the weather.
On Thursday after stalking 50 yards up the ride, PCal returns with caution...
The reason why - If you take a 26+lbs rifle all day stalking for a week, this will inevitably happen at some point!
There is life! The rides were like deer motorways in places, with plenty of rutting stands and wallows around.
Thursday afternoon looking over the top edges of the forestry, with the cloud coming down...
Fifteen minutes later covering the clear fell edges as the cloud descended, forcing us off the heather hill tops:
Fifteen minutes later again, time to call it a day at 15.30...The days are very short, making it hard work to get in on the deer in the time available.
Enjoying the view Friday morning:
PCal's youngster taken at 11am on the final Friday morning, with Bob's dog posing rather well...Thus we missed the 13.50 ferry, so caught the following 16.40 back - meaning neither of us have yet to see mainland Scotland in daylight! We reached Cornwall at 06.30 Saturday - A very long 'day' for PCal who was driving.
During the week nine deer were culled, with five falling to PCal's modern English stalking rifle...
Savouring the views, before packing up for the final time.
When we returned to the car (parked in the dark) just over the edge was this - a brilliant way to finish the week.