Harris Rhenigidale 1985.


Leader:- Jo Walker

Assistant Leaders:- Warwick Armstrong, Peter Schuller, Roy Tooth

Honorary Assistant Leaders:- Elspeth Micklem, Gary Sage

Members: Shaun Dickinson, Terence Drage, Julian Eloe, Karl Embleton, John Humpherson,

Mark Hunter, Andrew Maddox, Sally Sharpe, Colin Simmons, Michael Spencer, Ben Sturt, Craig Allister

Visiting chauffeur: Dougie Warburton

Leaders Report

Looking at the small group of rucksack-clad folk waiting on Glasgow Queen Street Station, I looked back on months of preparation and forward to the two and a half weeks to come, wondering what they would have in store.

After a smooth journey through the Western Highlands and Islands, everyone eventually arrived at the remote village of Rhenigidale. The camp was established quickly and efficiently, mainly due to an enthusiastic and willing group of ALs and members. Luckily it stayed dry long enough for us to get all the tents up in reasonable time. The following day, under the direction of Mark, furniture building with planks and bits of wood begged and borrowed from around the village was the immediate task for most of the members; while our CA Eppie, and Roy's duty group, proceeded to construct a highly efficient kitchen area. So camp was soon established.

For me, a cup of tea in bed began the first day of what turned out to be a cheerful and light-hearted expedition. Appalling weather, and the early departure of Craig, could have dampened spirits, but the absence of midges, a fantastic sense of humour on the part of everybody, cheerful singing sessions with hostellers from as far apart as USA, Australia, Italy and Sweden, and including our own version of Hotel California, along with constant activity of one kind or another, succeeded in refreshing and motivating everyone in a variety of ways, as the accounts to follow indicate.

Thanks to Joanna Burgess (Née Walker) who sent me these photos.

Canoeing in the bay at Rhemigidale

Capsize drill

Water activities were the first to get under way, directed by Warwick. The P4 made many trips to Tarbert and around the bay. With capsize drills completed, canoeing trips went to the cave, Loch Seaforth and the waterfal1 shower along the coast which was only accessible from the sea. Cleanliness was a prominent feature of the expedition!! Roy, the expedition medic, was determined to limit the number of diarrhoea tablets handed out and prevent the usual, distinctive expedition odours; some members were even seen shaving!

Walking was a bit limited because of the numerous days on which it poured with rain. Despite this, once initial training had taken place, visits were made to the Uiseval Ridge, Toddun, Glen Laxadale, the local coastline and Tarbert. The record for the walk from the camp to the end of the path was 52 minutes, set by our wildlife expert, Karl. Bivvies to Toddun, Callanish and Luskentyre included some walking, lots of hitching and., in the case of the first Callanish bivvy, the luxury of an automatic Daimler borrowed from the carpenter Angus, to whom we are very grateful, and driven by Dougie Warbuton, who visited us for a week. The mega-Callanish Bivvy also reached the top of the highest peak in the Outer Hebrides - Clisham.

Eppie Micklem, Shaun (I think) Ben I think, Gary Sage, Sally Sharpe and Terry Drage

Toddun overlooking Rhenigidale

In and around camp, a large variety of wildlife was seen, including golden eagles, otters, porpoises, seals and numerous sea birds. We also visited the deserted village of Molinginish, and when the rock was dry enough (which wasn't very often) Roy was able to take some folk climbing and abseiling, fishing was done with various degrees of success and much was discovered about the environment and the way of life in Rhenigidale. We were able to visit the Shiant Islands, shear sheep, enjoy fruit salad (with grapes), toffee (which should have been vanilla fudge), numerous wee stripaks and drams. None of this would have been possible without the support and friendship of the people of Rhenigidale. We were all struck by the generosity and kindness of everyone in the village. We were able to repay some of this kindness by moving a large number of breeze blocks and a Rayburn. I 'd like to take this opportunity to extend my special-thanks to Roddy McInnes for letting us use his land and corrugated iron, his frequent visits and kindness, including letting us use the hostel in our hour of need. Kathy and Alistair, Mairi-Ann and Fiona, thanks for the fantastic housewarming party. Katie, Marion, Lorna and Callum, thanks for the rose and putting up with my frequent use of the phone. Moira, Kenny and Duncan, thanks for the use of the cooking books, vanilla essence and boat. Angus and wee Kenny, thanks for your company.

The AL's meal - Dougie Warburton, Mike Spencer, John Humpherson, Terry, Mark Hunter, Ben Sturt, Sally, Jules Elce

Tip Tew (I guess you either know or you don't?)

Our extended stay, due to bad weather, was an enjoyable one despite (perhaps because of) my purple hair rinse and falling into a bog (twice). Leaving at 2.00 a.m. on Monday, sitting amidst the pile of equipment on the launch, with Kenny's boat (a Dunkirk veteran) being towed behind full of tired, happy people and their rucksacks, and the P4 buzzing along beside it, I looked back at Toddun and Rhenigidale bay with a sense of sadness at leaving. The expedition had been a success due to the fantastic group of ALs and members that I had with me. I 'd especially like to thank Roy, my deputy and shoulder in times of need, Warwick and Peter for all their hard work, Eppie, our honorary AL and camp administrator for a difficult job well done and Gary, an honorary AL for a week in Warwick's absence.

In the words of Jules, without whose Canadian camp songs, the evenings would have been far less fun:

Thanks to the spirit of the sea for calming me,

And to the Stones of Callanish for humbling me.

Urghas of thanks to the S.H.S Rhenigidale crew, everyone on Harris, the Board and Management Committee, without whose hard work this awesome expedition would not have been possible.

Jo Walker