South Uist 1968.
SOUTH UIST EXPEDITION 1968
Leader: John Cullingford
Officers: Pat Bradley, Ray Bradley, Pete Davies, Dick Light, Graeme Longmuir, Philip Reynold, Barry Smith.
Boys: Robert Arnold, Owen Atkinson, Robert Bailey, Paul Baker, Roger Crawshaw, Christopher David, Robert Davies,
John Doyle, Stephen Elliot, Andrew Gale, Richard George, Christopher Lumsden, Robert Marchment, Steven Mellor,
Neil Mitchell, David Purves, David Rust, Murray Sagar, Humphrey Southall, Martin Sutherland, Eddie Stuart, John Wilkinson.
The northern end of Loch nam Faoileann
Aug 1980 (independent of the S.H.S)
© Copyright Nick Smith
Approximately half the boys on this expedition were new so the proportion of "old lags" to new was good, the same proportions applied to the officers. The camp site was a new one situated beneath an awe-inspiring peak, by the shore of an arm of a sea-loch and with a freshwater lochan only five minutes' walk away, complete with an ideal diving rock and a deserted heronry on a small rock in the middle of the lochan which the camp's fleet of Lilos frequently visited. We were one-and-a-half miles away from the nearest house which was tucked away well out of sight and yet we were able to take advantage of the thrice-weekly visits of the Co-op van, supplementing our stores.
Continuing further with activities, the island has some prehistoric Earth Houses and, what Graeme hopes is the site and foundation of an early monastic settlement now ruined; and in more recent history - a cave, which local tradition holds as being one of the caves in which Bonnie Prince Charlie hid in his flight from the Redcoats. All three we explored or at least the Society mole, David Rust, had a good snout around in the houses and cave.
Then Dick Light introduced Orienteering to the Society's activities and it seemed to go down (or was it up?) well with all who tried it and to everyone's surprise and astonishment, the Manchester Grammar School Quartet won - but we suspect perhaps it was because they bribed their section leader! Orienteering's physical opposite was sunbathing which everyone indulged in, some more than others! Almost every day, except the last one when we packed up, was ideal for this form of physical activity, and even on the boat journey out, it was noticed that some of the most dedicated participants were already quietly snoring their heads off on the deck. But we did have clouds as well although they were not of the astronomical type - except in size - but rather clouds of miserable, man-eating midges!
We did have our ups and downs, the biggest one being our defeat at the football match where we lost 17-0. Bivouacing was the biggest "up" with a special luxury trip, by mini-bus and ferry to Eriskay led by Pat and Phil and a couple of trips, one for two nights to the bird sanctuary to observe the grey-lag geese breeding, led by Pete and Ray and a night, the last one when it poured with rain, in the cave.
We met many of the islanders, both in Lochboisdale and in the Loch Eynort area and of course at the dance in Bornish or at church. We returned their hospitality by offering at least tea to anyone and everyone who either visited the camp site or just happened to be passing through. We would particularly like to thank Mr. Donald MacDonald and his two sons Alec and John for all their help and advice and frequent cups of tea; to extend our thanks to Col. Greig, the owner of South Uist for the loan of a little sailing dinghy which gave us much fun and amusement; Mr. McIntyre, the factor, for much assistance before the start of the expedition; and Mr. McInnes who fixed us up with the wood - a scarce commodity on the island - for our tables in the marquee.
The north-west ridge of Ben More (Beinn Mhore) looking south-east towards the summit. 28/05/2005
© Copyright Tom Richardson
Especial thanks to the officers and to the advance party, who did a colossal amount of work in getting the camp established and to Mr. Smith, Barry's father, who joined us for a while, for all the work he has done in cleaning and sorting our equipment during the past year. I do hope that because of the success of this expedition many will want to come again next year and in the future. I can truthfully say that I was thrilled to have even been on the expedition and know that we now have much from it to thank God for.
(And, of course, many thanks to John for leading the expedition so ably!—Graeme.)
SOUTH UIST 1968
South Uist, we found, was an island of tremendous potential. It was unfortunate, however, that some of this was not fully discovered until the last few days of the expedition and the specialists, of whom there were many, have all expressed a desire that the island must be revisited by the Society and this potential, if possible, be fully examined and exhausted. I must also, as Editor of the South Uist report, make known that I deny all accusations made against me and to instruct the reader to take a pinch of Phil's damp salt with anything he may read about me.
Sloc Dubh and Loch Aineort. 29/05/2009
The nearest stretch of water is an almost landlocked arm of Loch Aineort, linked only by the narrow inlet just to the left of the two erratics perched on the hillside. The distant hills are Stulabhal and Airneabhal, with the lower peak of Beinn Ailean in between.
© Copyright Anne Burgess
The path by Loch Aineort, South Uist
© Copyright Frances Watts
THE ADVANCE PARTY
I had had no experience of the organisation of the Society before and hence had no idea of what the request involved. Yes, of course, I would go on the Advance Party and help set up camp. Shouldn't be difficult - only words on the postcard - "Take equipment to site and set up camp". Simple enough, as the following five paragraphs will show! The first day gave me some indication of how simple it would in fact be.
The first day set the scene for the rest of the preparations. Barry Smith and Dick Light had arranged to pick me up in Cheshire on their way to Mallaig from Essex. Ten-thirty in the morning was the appointed time for the rendezvous; at 2.30 p.m. I began to feel a little apprehensive, when suddenly the bell went and red-shirted Smith appeared. "Forgot to turn off the M1" he said "ended up in Sheffield!" I nodded sympathetically as one geographer to another. "An understandable mistake."
By midnight we had managed to fight our way through the traffic, to the shores of Loch Lomond, still wondering how we had managed to traverse the Clyde Tunnel twice. Four hours of sleep later and a mad dash to Mallaig where we were to meet some of the stores and transfer them to Stornoway for sorting. We joined Phil Reynold on the boat and arrived in Stornoway with mounds of stores and no means of getting them to the Scout Hut. It was 8.30 on Saturday night and at midnight the curfew would fall—nobody works on the Sabbath. It was then that good fortune came our way and the helpful islanders came to our aid. Within the hour two estate cars had transferred the goods to the Scout Hut and we were made to feel really welcome by the Scoutmaster.
The next two days were spent sorting and packing, lifting and moving, until we were ready to move stores to Tarbet for their trip to Lochmaddy. "Oh, by the way" somebody casually remarked, "We have to pick up a boat in Tarbet." Pick a boat up was certainly right—Rockbottom lay moored in the bay, evidently soaking up the water through the gaps in her sides and disgorging it as the tide rose and fell. Unfortunately the pier was 25 ft. higher than sea level and like the day when a 15 ft. clinker-built boat was hauled up a narrow set of steps will long be remembered in South Uist,
On our arrival at Lochmaddy we had a large crate full of stores, a leaking boat and a two-seater canoe both of which had to be loaded on a lorry with no sides. I must be one of very few people who can claim to have travelled the length of North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist by boat as did the advance party and once again the Society gave the islands a sight to remember.
Finally after being joined by Pete Davis and an overnight stay with Donald Macdonald, we carted the tents and stores to the camp site, where we moved them for the thirteenth and final time. The afternoon was spent erecting the Icelandic tents and grappling with the marquees. The latter was easy to erect the first time but became more and more difficult as it refused to stay up. However, it proved most entertaining and after three or four attempts, the huge wooden framework was lashed into position. By 9 p.m. the main party had arrived and the advance party retreated shattered into their tents to die a thousand deaths, being ably assisted by the midges.
Chris Lumsden contacted me on 12/08/2013 with some of his memories of South Uist '68 - thanks for these Chris.
highlights amongst my memories of the Uist expedition, camped at the base of
Ben Mhor virtually on the shore of Loch Eynort, are: