COLONSAY EXPEDITION 1971
Leader: Alan Howard
Camp Administrator: Peter Forsaith
Officers: Peter Carlile, John Houghton, Andrew Howard, John Lace, Derek Newton, Simon Ritter.
Boys: John Adams, Charles Anderson, Anthony Bell, Ian Bolton, Roger Butler, John Crutch, Nicholas Dance, Michael Dodge, Oliver Dow, Donald Gillies,
Mark Harvey, Andrew Jowers, Sean Joyce, Nicholas King, Calum Mackenzie, Richard Needier, Nigel Parker, David Rivers, Andrew Simpson, Michael
Skinner, Clifton Snaith, Stephen Southworth, Bruin Thompson, Gregory Watson, Philip Whyman, John Williams, Alan Wright, Andrew Wright.
Traigh an Tobair Fhuair. April 2008 © Copyright Dr Julian Paren
This is the popular Machrins Bay with its large expanse of white sand at low tide. Beinn nan Caorach is the principal hill overlooking the bay.
Well, we were the only S.H.S. Football Team to return from Colonsay undefeated. But that was not the only thing we did, as the various articles following this will testify. This is going to be a short leader's report, not just because I have difficulty in writing but also because the less room I take up, the more room there will be for all the many other articles which merit publication, and the great number of which means that we might have to have our own expedition report (Watch out for the takeover bid, Gavin!)
So the S.H.S. returned to Colonsay again to continue its flirtation with this enchanting island which could have been especially created with S.H.S. junior expeditions in mind. We were soon settled in at the Machrins looking out over the Atlantic swell and ideally placed for attacks on the many possibilities and challenges that the island presented. And into the attack we went, with almost unbounded enthusiasm and energy; soon groups were scattered throughout the length and breadth of the island. We climbed, canoed, orienteered, did some very good project work with positive results, had six bivouac parties out of camp, fought our way through two wide games, failed to walk round the island, got stuck on Oronsay, were given endless lifts by the friendly islanders, watched the officers' entertainment (or lack of it?), and then we had that incredible barbecue to finish off with. There was the quiz in camp, the visit to the church, the digging at Kiloran and the rubbing at Oronsay, there were the endless games of football after supper and then there was, of course, the match when we played some hairy Highlanders and triumphed. No wonder we were tired on the journey home! The spirit of Colonsay will rest in our bones for many days to come.
And then,before we had realised it our time in the island was almost finished. Our last night in camp was the scene of an incredible event and, as a gesture of thanks to all the people on the island, we decided to have a barbecue 'open' night, inside the marquee we laid out all our project reports and maps, the stone rubbings from Oronsay, the endless bones from Kiloran. Outside we had the fire roasting a whole sheep, which we had been given by Peter from Balnahard, with sausages and ginger cakes by courtesy of the Strathconas, and jacket potatoes and more sausages and that memorable Forsaith fruit punch (What was in that, Peter?). The Laird and his family came, the doctor, the minister, an assize court judge, and many other people who had been so kind to us during our stay. An occasion never to be forgotten.
© Copyright C Michael Hogan
White shingle beach south of
However, I did say that this was going to be a short report, but good memories have that knack of flooding back. There are many thanks to be given after the events of Colonsay. To the islanders of Colonsay who added so much to our enjoyment we must send our heartfelt thanks, and particularly to the Laird and his family for their kindness and generosity, and also to Watty, and to Mrs McKinnon, to the doctor, the minister. The list could be endless and without them Colonsay 1971 would simpler never have been. And then there were the S.H.S. backroom boys - many thanks and congratulations on managing to decipher my letters. No expedition can be in any way a success without a good set of officers, and we were very lucky on Colonsay to have a hardworking to am whose enthusiasm and energy never seemed to waver; Peter F. of the camp admin, working like a Trojan, delighting the vicar with his gift of more tea; John H, only a week but memories for much longer, with that excellent furniture and goal-keeping heroics; John L, reject from the Bristol jet set, coming out of retirement in a blaze of glory to win the orienteering; Pete C. not only for his wit and music, but that excellent project in the caves and that 'spam1 stew; Simon watched the birds, completed a project of great interest and chatted up guests at the barbecue, that is, when not cooking well and laughing at Lace; Derek, as a first-timer, with his geographical works, his organisation of the Colonwealth Games and that superb classical guitar playing; Andrew, with the boats and the meteorological readings, never seemed to be still for a moment. Many thanks to them all, and also to Roger Weatherley and Mark Rayne, those fugitives from South Rona, who helped so much with the setting up of camp in their two-day stay.
Campsite at Machrins, Colonsay.
SHS artist not recorded
That's it. The Expedition is over. However, 1 have a feeling that the spirit of Colonsay 1971 lives on, and will continue to do so. Read on, and see if you agree.
- ALAN HOWARD