In common with many outdoor bloggers, I’m asked to host guest posts for brands. Most of the time, the product is either not relevant, the post not appropriate, or both. I hope you’ll agree that the following piece provided by Islay malt distillery Bowmore is a suitable addition to these pages. Not only does it feature the work of someone I admire, landscape photographer Colin Prior, it also ties in with The Ultimate Adventure, a competition that I hope Northern Walker readers will appreciate.
The prize is a five-day survival and photography trip to Scotland with outdoor survival specialist Ken Hames and Colin. To enter, you need to join Bowmore’s Inner Core (as an Islay whisky nut, I’m a member) where you’ll get updates on new whisky releases and offers.
Best wishes and good luck!
A Night to Remember
Having spent some time in and around the Small Isles – the islands of Muck, Eigg, Rum and Canna, I had a growing desire to photograph the Rum Cuillin. I began some planning and identified that April looked like it would be the optimum time for photography on two counts – the position of the sun and for insect activity. I planned two nights in the mountains and it was just a question of waiting for some stable weather and getting onto location.
Eventually, I got the break that I had been waiting for and caught the MacBraynes ferry to Kinloch on Rum. I set off for the summit of Hallival with a rucksack weighing 53lbs where I planned to camp and to photograph Askival at dawn. Progress uphill was slow but steady and I finally reached the summit where the views towards Eigg and the mainland beyond were spectacular. To the north and rising in ramparts to the serrated gabbro ridge, the Skye Cuillin, looked particularly impressive. I pitched my tent just below the summit cairn and turned my attention to dinner – table for one!
The evening passed quickly and as the sky was cloudless. I waited until the stars began to appear, knowing that the total absence of light pollution would enhance the experience. Wow! What a night sky that was – just an infinite black space encrusted with thousands of tiny light sources that sparkled like diamonds. At one point I counted five satellites in the sky at one time. Eventually, I felt my own lights go out and I crawled into my tent.
Some time later, I felt the need for some fresh air and as I unzipped the tent I could see in the beam of my head-torch that the air was filled with birds. I looked at my watch and it was 1.30am and yet these birds were all actively flying around me. Eventually, it dawned on me that these were Manx Shearwaters and what I was witnessing was the courtship rituals of these birds taking place – behind my tent, sitting outside their burrows were four (I assume) females who were being suitably impressed by their potential partner. The spectacle was breathtaking and I realised I had witnessed a special moment. It’s not uncommon whilst in these wild places to have a close encounters with wildlife, which I see as a ‘gift’ that validates the experience of being in a wild place.