A small Isle adventure.

Our passion is your passion... stalk with us!
I do not know if you have ever been to Mallaig. It is the end of the line. Literally the end of the line. A small fishing port that up until the mid 1850s comprised of four houses. The name of the place was strangely familiar to me and it was not until my wife reminded me that I could recall why.
A lifetime ago, HMG sent me there on business. I was looking after a member of Parliament (Douglas Hurd for those old enough to remember) and he was up to Skye on a holiday. As a direct result of which I got to ride the Jacobite steam train over the Glenfinnan viaduct (Harry Potter for those young enough to remember).

Anyhoo.

A desire to revist the Highlands had brought be back. A desire to visit the small Isles more precisely. Following an eleven hour journey up the motorways of the UK, we found our very comfortable and very clean B&B. We parked the car and wandered into the centre of town. That took three minutes. Another three minutes would have seen us at the far side of town.
We found a small (everything is small in Mallaig) cafe and sat down to enjoy a wonderful sea food supper, a pint and a couple of drams. This was to be the theme for the week.

Eight hours kip, an excellent Scottish breakfast and a short stroll to the harbour saw us board the CalMac ferry. I checked the tickets. Mallaig - Egg - Muck. Perfect.

The sea was a flat as a mirror (and stayed as such all week) and a little over an hour later saw the ferry pull into the first stop. Everyone left the ferry. Everyone.

“Should we be getting off?” Asked MrsS62.

“No. It is Mallaig-Egg-Muck. So this will be Egg, sit back down”

Here is a fun fact. If the tides are wrong, the ferry goes straight to Muck. The tides were “wrong” and this was indeed Muck.

There is no dignity in running thought a ferry shouting “Wait! We need to get off!”.

The crew took pity and allowed us to disembark at our intended destination without too much teasing. Apparently we are not the first to be caught out.

There on the jetty was the imposing figure of our host for the week. Also present was his vehicle - one of very few on the island. Less than a mile later (half the length of the island) and we are there. The island is mainly a pheasant shoot but they do cater for stalkers (and divers)- which takes place on Rum.
The island was beautiful. The beaches were golden sand and the water clear and inviting. Our host’s five year old son was in the water recovering his lobster pots - it was like a scene from a "Famous Five" book. One of his lobsters was a monster and we met it again the following night at supper.

Roaming on the beach were horses, sheep, cattle and seals lying on the rocks. Our host’s wife turned out to be the most wonderful cook, and over the following three nights we were treated to the freshest produce, cooked to perfection. Good wines, fantastic whisky and the most welcoming of hosts made for the treat of a lifetime.

The following morning after another great breakfast saw us back at the jetty to catch the boat across to Rum. Also on board were two fishermen, going to fish the Lochs on the island. As it transpired, on that first day they caught over forty brown trout between them.

Having never stalked one, I was after the mythical smelly goat. MrsS62 was (I thought) after some rest. Long short. She was on the hill all day for all three days. The woman is a machine.

The crossing took a little over an hour and was a treat. The islands at their closest point are seven miles apart: port-to-port is about fourteen.

I was introduced to the head stalker and taken to “check zero”. The steps up to the firing point were near vertical and I fell over (twice) on the way. Not a good start. In anticipation of this trip, I had zeroed, 1” high at 100 yards at Bisley a couple of weeks ago. It should be dead on.
Back to the Rum firing point…

My breathing was erratic and I had an audience. Two shots. Way too high and off to the right.

“Don’t worry sir. Scopes often get knocked on the journey up here”, lied my stalker.

“You and I both know that is bollocks”. I replied.

I settled my breathing, dialled back the dope on the scope to pre-Bisley and had a quite word with myself. Three rounds clovered in the centre. Memo to self. Don’t touch that scope.



Crowbared into the Argo and off we go. It is cramped, noisy and uncomfortable. None of which matters as we are on Rum and we are going stalking. The views are extraordinary. About two thirds of the way up to the summit we stop and de-bus. I am glad to be out of the wonder machine. I take a couple of minutes to admire the views. It is warm. Too warm as it turns out.
I am in shirt sleeve order and not carrying enough fluids. I am using the Vorn (bought for the hill) and it is is now that one can feel it come into it’s own.

We spend the next seven hours in the most beautiful place on earth. I do not see much of it as my eyes are full of tears. My thighs are as knotted as a Boy Scout’s necktie, my feet are singing like the Vienna Boys Choir, and my knees feel like they have been done over by a Glaswegian gangster. I am in a world of pain.
I had forgotten how hard the hill can be.

Every time we stopped, the stalker would roll a fag. It is the first time in my life I have actually encouraged a man to smoke.

Goats like the cliffs. I do not like the cliffs. They are steep, inaccessible and dangerous. We saw goats but just could not got onto them. I didn’t care. I wanted to be back at the Lodge with a drink in my hand.

Then came an opportunity for a stag. Two stags together at the bottom of the hill on which we were. A long stalk in brought us to a position from which we could have hatched a plan. Then a hill walker. The stags and my dreams trotted off to the next hill. Cest la vie.

Back on board the boat for the return to Muck, our host pasted around G&Ts. The fresh air, the smells of the sea, the scenery, the company of others - I could almost have forgiven the hill walker. Almost.


All too soon the respite is over, and the next day finds us back on Rum and everything that hurt yesterday is back with a vengeance. I do not know how big Rum is, or how high it is, but I think we did most of it. The chance of a shot was ruined by a chap in a helicopter. He was so low we though he was going to land.
What it did do is clear the hill of deer. Deer do not like the sound of a helicopter. Truth to tell neither do I. What that helicopter also did, was spook a Tribe (yes I looked it up) of Goats. I counted fifteen as they ran past us. They did not see us until the last moment, and so passed close enough for me to get my first taste of their smell.
And it is a taste. With them and the deer leaving the hill it just left me, the Stalker and MrsS62. The hunting Gods are once again, against us.

We walked off the hill. A simple sentence that does not convey the effort that this took to achieve. Gong up the hill is tough. Going down the hill is cruel.

By about 1700 hours we were back at the Argo and what I thought was salvation. However, about ten minuets later the Argo stops, and the Stalker spies the hill.

“Come on there is still a chance”. He dismounts and is away like a slipped dog. I tumble out of the Argo like a slipped disc.

There is nothing that is keeping me upright now other than pride. It is millennial grass underfoot and it saps what little strength a man has left. Hidden holes and watercourses threaten to snap your ankles. I am gasping for breath and my trying to make it sound like I am not gasping for breath is just making breathing all the harder.
We have seen two stags and they are on the move. We are trying to reach the next vantage point to see if they have stooped in the next sheltered place. Each time they are gone.

“Come on we will just try for the next one”. He says this seven times. Seven. I hate him.

I can see the “next one”. It is only about 100 yards. They are all about 100 yards from each other. It is a never ending game of tag and I do not want to play it anymore. I am dry heaving with the effort and am close to being a medivac. It is only muscle memory that is keeping me going.

Then finally: the Stalker indicates that they are over the next brow. With nothing left in the tank, I suddenly find a reserve I did not know I had.

I crest the hill and see two stags. They are 120 yards away.

“Take the one on the right”.

I do not need to be told twice.

The shot is on the money and the stag falls from my view. His antlers, however, remain on view.

The Stalker offers me his hand, and in that moment I forgive him everything.

We go forward, and I pay my respects to a magnificent beast. He is 14 points and will larder at 17 stones and 9 pounds.

He has given his life for one of the best memories of mine, and I am humbled.
 

Attachments

  • IMG_2235.JPG
    IMG_2235.JPG
    62.1 KB · Views: 1,093
  • IMG_2258.JPG
    IMG_2258.JPG
    109 KB · Views: 254
  • IMG_2266.JPG
    IMG_2266.JPG
    166 KB · Views: 264
  • IMG_2269.JPG
    IMG_2269.JPG
    152.4 KB · Views: 262
Last edited by a moderator:

Stalker1962

Well-Known Member
Extraction was by pony and once loaded were left to get home on their own, never failed. Nature Conservancy, as it was then, had just started the Sea Eagle reintroduction and the birds were kept in the old kennels by the bothies.
The Garron ponies are still an option on the isle.

The chaps were telling me of the recent Eagle re-introduction program. You can still see the large cages in which the eagles were acclimatised.

Came the big day, came the big wigs and the press.

The cages were opened to a large (for the Isles) crowd, cheering and applause.

However, the eagles had been overfed and were "too fat to fly". All a bit embarrassing by all accounts.

They thrive there now however; and I got much enjoyment from seeing them, in such a beautiful setting.
 

Pagans

Active Member
I do not know if you have ever been to Mallaig. It is the end of the line. Literally the end of the line. A small fishing port that up until the mid 1850s comprised of four houses. The name of the place was strangely familiar to me and it was not until my wife reminded me that I could recall why.
A lifetime ago, HMG sent me there on business. I was looking after a member of Parliament (Douglas Hurd for those old enough to remember) and he was up to Skye on a holiday. As a direct result of which I got to ride the Jacobite steam train over the Glenfinnan viaduct (Harry Potter for those young enough to remember).

Anyhoo.

A desire to revist the Highlands had brought be back. A desire to visit the small Isles more precisely. Following an eleven hour journey up the motorways of the UK, we found our very comfortable and very clean B&B. We parked the car and wandered into the centre of town. That took three minutes. Another three minutes would have seen us at the far side of town.
We found a small (everything is small in Mallaig) cafe and sat down to enjoy a wonderful sea food supper, a pint and a couple of drams. This was to be the theme for the week.

Eight hours kip, an excellent Scottish breakfast and a short stroll to the harbour saw us board the CalMac ferry. I checked the tickets. Mallaig - Egg - Muck. Perfect.

The sea was a flat as a mirror (and stayed as such all week) and a little over an hour later saw the ferry pull into the first stop. Everyone left the ferry. Everyone.

“Should we be getting off?” Asked MrsS62.

“No. It is Mallaig-Egg-Muck. So this will be Egg, sit back down”

Here is a fun fact. If the tides are wrong, the ferry goes straight to Muck. The tides were “wrong” and this was indeed Muck.

There is no dignity in running thought a ferry shouting “Wait! We need to get off!”.

The crew took pity and allowed us to disembark at our intended destination without too much teasing. Apparently we are not the first to be caught out.

There on the jetty was the imposing figure of our host for the week. Also present was his vehicle - one of very few on the island. Less than a mile later (half the length of the island) and we are there. The island is mainly a pheasant shoot but they do cater for stalkers (and divers)- which takes place on Rum.
The island was beautiful. The beaches were golden sand and the water clear and inviting. Our host’s five year old son was in the water recovering his lobster pots - it was like a scene from a "Famous Five" book. One of his lobsters was a monster and we met it again the following night at supper.

Roaming on the beach were horses, sheep, cattle and seals lying on the rocks. Our host’s wife turned out to be the most wonderful cook, and over the following three nights we were treated to the freshest produce, cooked to perfection. Good wines, fantastic whisky and the most welcoming of hosts made for the treat of a lifetime.

The following morning after another great breakfast saw us back at the jetty to catch the boat across to Rum. Also on board were two fishermen, going to fish the Lochs on the island. As it transpired, on that first day they caught over forty brown trout between them.

Having never stalked one, I was after the mythical smelly goat. MrsS62 was (I thought) after some rest. Long short. She was on the hill all day for all three days. The woman is a machine.

The crossing took a little over an hour and was a treat. The islands at their closest point are seven miles apart: port-to-port is about fourteen.

I was introduced to the head stalker and taken to “check zero”. The steps up to the firing point were near vertical and I fell over (twice) on the way. Not a good start. In anticipation of this trip, I had zeroed, 1” high at 100 yards at Bisley a couple of weeks ago. It should be dead on.
Back to the Rum firing point…

My breathing was erratic and I had an audience. Two shots. Way too high and off to the right.

“Don’t worry sir. Scopes often get knocked on the journey up here”, lied my stalker.

“You and I both know that is bollocks”. I replied.

I settled my breathing, dialled back the dope on the scope to pre-Bisley and had a quite word with myself. Three rounds clovered in the centre. Memo to self. Don’t touch that scope.



Crowbared into the Argo and off we go. It is cramped, noisy and uncomfortable. None of which matters as we are on Rum and we are going stalking. The views are extraordinary. About two thirds of the way up to the summit we stop and de-bus. I am glad to be out of the wonder machine. I take a couple of minutes to admire the views. It is warm. Too warm as it turns out.
I am in shirt sleeve order and not carrying enough fluids. I am using the Vorn (bought for the hill) and it is is now that one can feel it come into it’s own.

We spend the next seven hours in the most beautiful place on earth. I do not see much of it as my eyes are full of tears. My thighs are as knotted as a Boy Scout’s necktie, my feet are singing like the Vienna Boys Choir, and my knees feel like they have been done over by a Glaswegian gangster. I am in a world of pain.
I had forgotten how hard the hill can be.

Every time we stopped, the stalker would roll a fag. It is the first time in my life I have actually encouraged a man to smoke.

Goats like the cliffs. I do not like the cliffs. They are steep, inaccessible and dangerous. We saw goats but just could not got onto them. I didn’t care. I wanted to be back at the Lodge with a drink in my hand.

Then came an opportunity for a stag. Two stags together at the bottom of the hill on which we were. A long stalk in brought us to a position from which we could have hatched a plan. Then a hill walker. The stags and my dreams trotted off to the next hill. Cest la vie.

Back on board the boat for the return to Muck, our host pasted around G&Ts. The fresh air, the smells of the sea, the scenery, the company of others - I could almost have forgiven the hill walker. Almost.


All too soon the respite is over, and the next day finds us back on Rum and everything that hurt yesterday is back with a vengeance. I do not know how big Rum is, or how high it is, but I think we did most of it. The chance of a shot was ruined by a chap in a helicopter. He was so low we though he was going to land.
What it did do is clear the hill of deer. Deer do not like the sound of a helicopter. Truth to tell neither do I. What that helicopter also did, was spook a Tribe (yes I looked it up) of Goats. I counted fifteen as they ran past us. They did not see us until the last moment, and so passed close enough for me to get my first taste of their smell.
And it is a taste. With them and the deer leaving the hill it just left me, the Stalker and MrsS62. The hunting Gods are once again, against us.

We walked off the hill. A simple sentence that does not convey the effort that this took to achieve. Gong up the hill is tough. Going down the hill is cruel.

By about 1700 hours we were back at the Argo and what I thought was salvation. However, about ten minuets later the Argo stops, and the Stalker spies the hill.

“Come on there is still a chance”. He dismounts and is away like a slipped dog. I tumble out of the Argo like a slipped disc.

There is nothing that is keeping me upright now other than pride. It is millennial grass underfoot and it saps what little strength a man has left. Hidden holes and watercourses threaten to snap your ankles. I am gasping for breath and my trying to make it sound like I am not gasping for breath is just making breathing all the harder.
We have seen two stags and they are on the move. We are trying to reach the next vantage point to see if they have stooped in the next sheltered place. Each time they are gone.

“Come on we will just try for the next one”. He says this seven times. Seven. I hate him.

I can see the “next one”. It is only about 100 yards. They are all about 100 yards from each other. It is a never ending game of tag and I do not want to play it anymore. I am dry heaving with the effort and am close to being a medivac. It is only muscle memory that is keeping me going.

Then finally: the Stalker indicates that they are over the next brow. With nothing left in the tank, I suddenly find a reserve I did not know I had.

I crest the hill and see two stags. They are 120 yards away.

“Take the one on the right”.

I do not need to be told twice.

The shot is on the money and the stag falls from my view. His antlers, however, remain on view.

The Stalker offers me his hand, and in that moment I forgive him everything.

We go forward, and I pay my respects to a magnificent beast. He is 14 points and will larder at 17 stones and 9 pounds.

He has given his life for one of the best memories of mine, and I am humbled.
Amazing experience thanks for sharing
 

bogtrotter

Well-Known Member
This thread is bringing back memories. Spent 10 days on Rum as a young keeper back in the mid 70s learning the ropes from the two stalkers Geordie Sturton and Louie MacRae, two wonderful stalkers, teachers and men of the hills. Extraction was by pony and once loaded were left to get home on their own, never failed. Nature Conservancy, as it was then, had just started the Sea Eagle reintroduction and the birds were kept in the old kennels by the bothies. Some of the goats shot, and they shot a fair few, were brought back to feed the eagles. It was also my first introduction to warble fly grubs and keds. I've never forgotten my short time there.
10 years before I went but I was hardly what I would call young I was 37 and already working as a stalker but my estate sent me on the course they had sent our head man the previous year. Louie was still the stalker at that time and two other stalkers were engaged as instructors.
Remember the ponies well it was a young lady who was in charge of the ponies and very good she was with them too
she took a string of four ponies to the hill when a stag was loaded she turned the pony loose and it would make it's
way home.
When we came home the ponies would be stood in a line outside the larder in the order they had been sent home
waiting to be unloaded..
Great stuff! We were even taught emergency shoeing , something that only a farrier would be allowed to do today.
There was also some high jinks in the castle bar of an evening, but the least said about them might be a good idea.
 

SamHuntVic

Well-Known Member
The man can write and now has the thighs of a weightlifter, great combination.
I very much enjoyed that write up as did Mrs SHV. She was seen to smile, confirmation that you have an admirer.
Grant.
 

Will mac

Active Member
10 years before I went but I was hardly what I would call young I was 37 and already working as a stalker but my estate sent me on the course they had sent our head man the previous year. Louie was still the stalker at that time and two other stalkers were engaged as instructors.
Remember the ponies well it was a young lady who was in charge of the ponies and very good she was with them too
she took a string of four ponies to the hill when a stag was loaded she turned the pony loose and it would make it's
way home.
When we came home the ponies would be stood in a line outside the larder in the order they had been sent home
waiting to be unloaded..
Great stuff! We were even taught emergency shoeing , something that only a farrier would be allowed to do today.
There was also some high jinks in the castle bar of an evening, but the least said about them might be a good idea.
I'm sure quite a few on that course back in the day have a few good tales to tell. Happy days.
 

Stalker1962

Well-Known Member
It is unusual for me to take a dram in the week.

But, the book arrived this afternoon, and it just needed a drop to see me through the pages. A really fascinating read about the extraordinary family, who once owned the island.

Unable to resist the obvious cocktail gag - as I take a small whisky with my Rùm.

I'll see myself out..."Slàinte mhath".
.
 

Attachments

  • IMG_2397.jpg
    IMG_2397.jpg
    137.3 KB · Views: 12

Big_Sparky

Well-Known Member
Well, I mean I thought my write up was good….. but, I suppose I have to be wrong now and again ;) Especially the line about encouraging your man to smoke!!

I shall be moving back south of the border at the end of this month and I shall very much miss places like Mallaig on the doorstep!!
 

Stalker1962

Well-Known Member
I’m with you there!!!! 🙈 It’s a long story….. I may do another write up!! But I often question myself!
It is of course none of my business, but every fibre of my body wants to be in the Highlands. Every fibre. All the time.







Until of course I am in the Highlands.

Midge bitten, miserable, exhausted and gasping for my next breath.

Then I want to be in the Home Counties with decent WiFi, HelloFresh deliveries and a petrol station within half a fuel-tank's range.

Conflicted anyone?
 

Big_Sparky

Well-Known Member
It is of course none of my business, but every fibre of my body wants to be in the Highlands. Every fibre. All the time.







Until of course I am in the Highlands.

Midge bitten, miserable, exhausted and gasping for my next breath.

Then I want to be in the Home Counties with decent WiFi, HelloFresh deliveries and a petrol station within half a fuel-tank's range.

Conflicted anyone?
Without a huge tale, I’m splitting up with the wife, she’s settled and has a good job locally and our chocolate lab (which I bought for her) loves where we stay - the loch is literally in stumbling distance and we stay on 63 acres. I shall especially miss roe in the garden and my own little range outside - can safely get 250 metres without worry.
I’m a wagon driver and can get work anywhere and my daughter lives in the NE of England so makes sense to move back, for a while at least. I too love the highlands, came for many years before we moved - Oban, though is a very strange place, I shall not miss many of the folk - our village is different - but the town is very odd. If I return it would be further north or somewhere more remote - we shall see!!
 

Stalker1962

Well-Known Member
Without a huge tale, I’m splitting up with the wife..

I am sorry, I did not mean to intrude.

I very much hope your next chapter is a happier one.

Apropos being an 'incomer'. Never easy wherever you relocate. Normally takes about five generations before they begin to start, to consider, that you may be a'local'.
 

Big_Sparky

Well-Known Member
I am sorry, I did not mean to intrude.

I very much hope your next chapter is a happier one.

Apropos being an 'incomer'. Never easy wherever you relocate. Normally takes about five generations before they begin to start, to consider, that you may be a'local'.
No worries - I opened the door in fairness! It is what it is as the rather vague saying goes!

It’s been an odd one in many ways, the incomer situation is definitely realistic (but not directly to my personal situation from a relationship sense) but certainly more in terms of the town and elements within it. We stay in Benderloch which is actually very welcoming, there was an element of arms length for probably the first few months but I think that could be expected in any tourist dominated area. I think the biggest area where I’ve seen the newcomer affect is within the work place and getting certain things done - perhaps, if anything, we made the move too early in life. If I wasn’t fussed about a job anymore - it wouldn’t be an issue. All of that said, the wife gets on much better with a lot more folk than I do - maybe it’s me not them 🙄😂.

Anyways - I shall stop hi jacking your excellent write up thread and leave my story there!!
 
New Avon Arms
Top