Lewis, Tamanavay 1981.
LEADER:- Peter Fale.
ASSISTANT LEADERS:- Collette Armitage, Cath Dalton,
Heather Linley, Hugh Lorrimer, Stephen Martin, Mike Shelley, John Tutton.
MEMBERS: Timothy Walker, Katherine Ball, Alison Redding, David Broom, Helen Rush, Richard Skipper,
Angela Greetham, Kieran Dempsey, John Easton, Michael Kell, Sarah Walker, Ian Webster, Ian Martin,
Paul Masters, Frank Farnham, William Welch, Rachel Wheeler, Liz Whitehead, Cath Dyson, Deborah Miller,
Peter Lawson, Susan Bailey, Chris Welham, Stuart Dawson, Zoe Smith, Mark Johnson, Alison Woodward
MEMORIES OF A LEADER
Although perhaps the oldest S.H.S leader ever, I was also the greenest and so I experienced for the first time the panic induced by trying to piece together the various parts that have to be strung together in what may loosely be termed 'organising1 an S.H.S expedition. However, I need not have worried; things somehow happen in the SHS and, within 24 hours of the main party arriving at Stornoway, Mike Shelly and I found ourselves on a particularly wet, deserted bit of Lewis with a heavily loaded trailer of equipment with a punctured tyre and no spare. I knew then that everything was going to be fine. Our walk over the mountain to the site was an epic and I felt like Moses leading the Hebrews - or was it just the way I walk? Miraculously all arrived in great spirits and our expedition got under way in conditions that made us pity those poor folk lying on Mediterranean beaches.
S.H.S expeditions are more about people than what they do or what they are. My chief memories are therefore of members and of the occasional islander. There were certain larger-than-life characters such as Steve Martin - rock climber, mammal trapper, extraordinary dresser, cabaret artiste, drag speciality, and quite a performer with a bus ticket; Cuddly Colette the pancake queen; Big M 'I will do anything in a wet suití Shelly who combined the art of looking immaculate at all times with that of marathon raspberry blowing.
This was a good idea, holding up a board with the expedition on it!
|Thanks to Hugh and Simon Lorimer for the photo, possibly more to follow.
If anyone would like to add names to faces, please contact me.
|There were also groups that spring to mind such as the lassies from Lancashire, never lost for words and always willing to give haircuts and elocution lessons; the energetic cheerful girls from the West Country; the large Poole contingent with all their various accomplishments from bird watching to crab dressing; and finally all those individuals who did not fall into any group but quietly contributed to the general activities. It was a privilege to be in such an enthusiastic, good hearted group. We experimented with having no camp rules other than those that safety demanded, and I appealed to their regard for the feelings of others. Apart from a few incidents (which rules probably would not have avoided) it was a very successful experiment which speaks volumes for the members and led to a free and easy relaxed atmosphere. In addition to the members we shall all remember Jonathan the jovial lobster fisherman who had a verbal answer to every situation that would make an Irishman envious, and Mrs. Buchanan the landlady who looked after Rachel and gave us all very welcome cups of tea.
The days passed with spontaneous activities such as capsizing canoes, fishing for cameras in flood water, drying sleeping bags, repelling midges, and digging drainage ditches. Occasionally we found time for other things; rock climbing was very popular with nearly everyone doing an aided climb up an overhang and the more adventurous doing routes on Crag Dibbedale. The weather did not prevent expeditions and most members got away from camp for one night - some in bivvy bags, some in tents, and some unfortunates put up with sleeping in a house with a roaring fire. The canoeists managed to get to Mealista Island where the flies replaced the midges - what a superb beach! We tried to maroon Michael Kell there, but he swam after the P4, money-belt and all. There were other overnight expeditions to Uig Loch Seaforth and West Tamana. Bread runs were for some reason popular - possibly the flesh pots of Brennish and Uig exerted their fascination. There was the day pilgrimage to the telephone at Brennish to get '0' level results. Around the site gill walking gave some a masochistic pleasure and others chose to swim in the Loch - diving masks and wet suits were made good use of. The hills were usually in low cloud, but occasionally a climb offered great views of the whole island. An orienteering exercise proved hard going in the boggy, uneven terrain and it was won by John and Steve. There were a fair number of projects including mammal trapping and subsequent observation of field mice, ornithology, botany, a worm survey, underwater survey including a Crustacea collection, a measurement of river profile and flow, a flotsam and jetsam collection, and suspension bridge. Steve was the most, in fact the only, successful angler with a number of brown trout. Sea angling was fruitless but Paul Masters had a rewarding day lobster fishing with Jonathan - we benefited with a box full of crabs - we discovered that week-old crabs give off a smell that is not entirely pleasant.
The evenings were relaxed and rarely very active. Always guitar playing - John's guitar brought out the budding Sergovias, Dave, Kate and even Brass. Singing was accompanied by seaweed, black red Indians and dancing 'girls'. There were numerous group games - some more intimate than others, a few talks and plenty of chat. It is difficult to say whether an expedition is a good one or a successful one, but this was one where time passed too quickly; there was good companionship, new friendships were made, old ones renewed; most members got a sense of achievement - for some from just surviving, and everyone caught the magic of the beautiful, if damp surroundings.