Lewis, Mealista 1986

LEADER : Michael Osborne.

ASSISTANT LEADERS : Rachel Craig; Brigit Hutchinson; Simon Lorimer [deputy leader]; Robert McDermott;

Ian Earnshaw; Peter Davies; Philip Hadley; Robert Fielden; John Humpherson; Steve Brown.


 MEMBERS : Siobhain Burke; Elizabeth Boulter; Rachel Allen; Susannah Boxall; Rachel Gooberman; Alison Adams;

Lucy Slack; Alison Townend; Hannah Johnson; Jennette Long; Nikki Marsh; Jane Thomas; Margaret Lees; Julia Russell;

Howard Beamond: Jeremy Clough; John Parry; Darren Couzens; Mick Martin; Ryan Herbert; Tadgh MacFirbhisigh;

 Nick Gee; Paul Connolly; Alasdair Lennox ; Richard Glazier Simon Pollard; Tom Wakeford;

Jonathan Adams; Philip Squance ; David Gooberman (visiting only]


Leader's Report


As previous expedition leaders have remarked, the old "ONE-TWO" approach from the chairman is a hard one to counter. [i.e. letter followed shortly by phone call]. I couldn’t even hold up my job as an excuse, as my employer, when consulted, appeared keener than I was.

“You must, accept" he said.

With everybody else wanting me to take on the leadership role, how did I fell about it?

Certainly pleased to have been asked; wanting to give something hack to the society alter so many years of association. As usual I had no plans for the summer, and wasn't violently opposed to going back to the Hebrides so soon after Rhum '85; and the feeling that there were s t i l l fresh experiences to be gained; and new friends to be made: once again I saw the photographs of the site, with the Atlantic Ocean fetching up on its first landfall, a thrill of anticipation, wanting to be out there, living with and enjoying the elements; a new island, and a different horizon; temporarily assuaging the old restlessness and romanticism with movement and adventure!

 And how did I feel at the end?

Mealista. Photos by Rob McDermot

Extremely tired, but pleased that everything had gone so well. Unbelievably well. Brian Hanrahan's description of an airborne attack on Port Stanley from a carrier in the South Atlantic "I counted them all out, and I counted them all back " is particularly apt, although a great understatement of the organisation that can put forty people onto the West coast of Lewis, apparently abandon them, and bring them back, complete, replete, and together in every sense. [Thanks Colette, both Richards, Sue and Ian, The Great Orr, Jonathan. Rosie and Phil, Craig and the others.]

Everything came together , from a near standing start in late April, with just 10 members and 2 AL's, to a full expedition of 29 members and 10 AL's , of mixed ages but of outstanding abilities. I kept counting, and I always made it a different number; Advance Guard; Lorry and Equipment; Food; Extra tentage; the 2nd P4; Members and AL's; ALL met in the right places and at the right time. Ferries, coaches, and island lorries all arrived, and all ran to time. FAULTLESSLY! Post; Bread; Petrol; ALL came to hand exactly as required. [Many thanks to the Islanders who made this possible, and to Peter Cresswell for permission to use Mealista.]


Notes to leaders emphasise the need to meet AL's early, [I didn't meet some until the night before] and to communicate one's vision of what the expedition is going to achieve. I really had no firm plan beyond wanting the arrangements to be workable, and the camp well organised. Well organised?

I hadn't made an Easter visit, but I did manage to get to the site half an hour ahead of the pack, and made my last real decision to put the marquee up on the headland. A good choice, given the weather we enjoyed. Then I lit the blue touch paper and stood back gazing at the multi-coloured talent that erupted.

We had too much food, but nobody complained about that [except when it was inedible]. The weather was far too good: [no gales, no rain often no cloud!],but nobody complained about that either! The sea was too cold, although judging by the hours the P4's logged, it wasn’t cold enough! There weren't even enough midges for a really good scratch! Was there anything wrong at all? Yes, there was far too much noise, although I may be wrong. [The silence here since we got back has been almost too much. Roll on the Reunion.]


The amount of activity was astonishing. Rafts; Dune jumping; Callanish; Night lines; Lateral thinking. Everybody did everything. Non-stop. The good humour, the tolerance, the respect which everybody showed to each other was exceptional.

How does one stop a runaway expedition? Better just to hang on and admire the scenery: try to forget time rushing by ,and the hard landing at Crewe station at dawn on a Saturday morning, and the realisation that it was work or school or both, on Monday; and it wasn't going to be the sand .or the sea , or the sky in the Islands again this side of next summer.

Two reflections on the nature of time: Firstly hearing the news that the Queen was hosting a dinner aboard Brittania, somewhere up the Yangtse, for Chinese leaders. Hadn't we just seen her sail through the straits near Kyle? Secondly, watching the eclipse of the moon, with the realisation that it was only two moons ago since we cast shadows at bedtime [and that never early] on the slopes of Craceval. I enjoyed the Expedition, and the Island, and most of all your company. "Haste ye back" as the Scots say.

Mike Osborne.

Picture wall of the climbing wall,

all shots from Rob McDermott