Harris, Cravadale 1986

Leader:     Claire  McCombe

Assistant Leaders:  Jonathan Bletcher, Tony Ball, Jacky Randall, Lee Varley, Tim Willcocks

Members:   Andrew Baker, Harriet Boxall, Paul Clough, Mary Fawcett, Nicholas Furneaux, Leon Gooberman, Ruth Ireland, Ben Lambert, Andrew Marsh, David Martin, Kathy Rooke, Andrew Scholes, Mark Scott, Philip Scriven, Jonathan Willcocks.


Leader's  Report

The days of planning were over. The day had dawned. The expedition gradually grew as people joined the 2100 London-Inverness train from all directions. The complicated travel plans all went smoothly, and we arrived at Cravdale 39 hours later - you can get to Sydney (Australia) quicker than that!!

We then lay in the sun, waiting for the landing craft to come around the corner, dreaming of how this place seemed so unconcerned with the pageantry going on in London for the Royal Wedding. When the landing craft arrived it grounded out in the waves, so we had to wade thigh deep through a sea of jellyfish to reach the equipment, but the weather was warm, so it didn't seem to matter.

We then spent the afternoon setting up camp in ideal conditions. The next morning the sun had retired, and capsize drill was carried out in driving rain and wind. At the same time some very respectable tables and chairs were erected in the marquee - but that afternoon the gales started. During the next few days these intensified, and the innovation to keep the marquee up was remarkable. A variety of props were used, ranging from fish net to very thick ships' anchor rope, from 3 large tree trunks (probably ex ships' masts) to 3.5 tons of rock from the beach. The marquee survived the expedition, but I'm afraid we have to mourn the passing of 8.5 tents (the half being the store tent, which lost its brailings) .

Our main problem was that we were being hit by strong winds from a number of directions, and eventually we had to make the decision to move. Everybody worked exceptionally hard (was it the thought of a Mars Bar?) to move the camp over to nearby Cravadale House. It was no mean feat setting up camp a second time.

From then on activities could begin in earnest. The canoes were much used on Loch na Cleavag (now next to our camp), as was the Topper. Jono managed to catch a few trout, and very tasty they were too, cooked with onions for breakfast. Most people had a go at climbing some of the nearby crags by using a top rope. Philip managed quite a difficult overhang. Our movements were restricted for the first part of the expedition due to the deer stalking activities of the estate, but later on we got some good walks done, including an entire expedition exodus up Tirga Mor, and a ‘quick nip’ up Clisham (799m) for a small super fit group. An excellent peat oven was made out of old tin cans, which kept the camp supplied with freshly baked brown bread, chocolate cake and many jacket potatoes. Mark succeeded in making a very good lobster pot, and when this was finally launched the bait disappeared, but no sign of any lobster !

Tim Willcocks had visited Scarp in 1965 and had made great friends with the islanders. So now in 1986 he was keen to find out what had happened to them all. He made many visits and consumed much tea and jam sponge (I hope his waistline didn't suffer too much), but the amazing thing was -they remembered him - and by name, after 20 years! Having heard so much about the history of Scarp, from Tim's many stories, we were determined to make a visit to this island, and after a few failed attempts, we eventually made it, twice. And what a beautiful island! Some project work was done, including shore ecology and surveying.

Evenings were always full due to Tony's efforts, and much hilarity was had at Cathy's birthday party (please excuse the brown stains on the marquee walls). The AL's meal was stomach bursting to put it mildly, but what was to beat Tim's massages? Despite all the difficulties morale remained high, and for that I have to thank everybody present. Everyone worked well as a team, and I think everybody deserves credit. To Jonathan "Surgery at 2500 hours" Bletcher, Tony "Diet tomorrow" "I've learnt how to make coffee" Ball, Jacky "Mum" Randall, Tim "Official masseur" Willcocks and Lee "Hippie" Varley may I express my thanks, along with a thank you to each individual member.

Claire  McCombe.

Thanks to Katherine Partis (Kathy Rooke) for these photos

 Leader and ALs. Man right with the blue jacket is Jonathan Bletcher.

Photo: Katherine Partis

Jonathan? [eating] Andy [laughing] Photo: Katherine Partis Kathy -washing her hair. Photo: Katherine Partis
Andy? [there are 3 to choose from?] Photo: Katherine Partis Photo: Katherine Partis