A view on Fishing,Community and Life on the NW coast of Scotland

Posts tagged ‘stags’

Knockando Memories

I was going to write this post yesterday but the loss of my power of speech and lack of co-ordination put paid to that. The health has recovered somewhat although rather tired and not through over work. Finishing off a shift at the Inn that was not too onerous, the earlier shifts have been hit harder as many people are coming out for lunch and not travelling during the evening. The poor health and other symptoms were directly related to the exuberant welcoming in 2017. Yesterday began next door with a fine spread for lunch, good chat and some fine whisky. Some slightly bizarre tales of men becoming women and ending up in women prisons as sort of men, one in particular changing his mind half way through. I had with me a drappie of Knockando to keep me going through the day. This dram has memories of an epic weekend in a different life. Many years ago a weekend trip was  arranged and began with me collecting my pickup from the Lochcarron Garage after its MoT and heading to Kyle where I parked it at the Pier. With nothing in my mind other than jumping into the car with a couple of mates and heading to Portree to see Runrig. A fine night in prospect but the first indication that all was not well in Kyle….I had parked the pickup at low tide and with a spring tide that weekend, well, it does not take too much imagination to work out what happened. Managed to forget what was under way in Kyle and had a cracking night. So saturday morning, 6.00am, high tide lapping through the pickup, along came help. A fisherman returning from a party towed me through Kyle at around 30/40 mph to the local garage for a clean up. That was bad enough but the driver was far from sober and I was being towed in reverse. I decided that there was nothing more to do but keep going on the planned weekend, phoned the garage from Inverness, took a lot of stick, (sinking a pickup, being a fisherman etc), but ended up at Knockando distillery having a wee taste of their malt, given to us by a quite eccentric/old-fashioned manager. Back to Applecross and bit too much banter about sunk pickups and a local, that to this day, does not know how lucky he was to survive the banter unscathed, one of my mates that day was an exbouncer and was 6.6 foot by 6 foot and later I learnt he was debating whether to squash my tormentor.

There are so many empty houses in Applecross now the traditional first footing does not happen as in the older times. Now we tend to gather at pre arranged houses or in this case a Shed. After leaving Blaven, replete with food and drink, I made my way to the Cheffie’s Shed where there was a grand supply of many fine malts, Glenmorangie, Bunnahabhain, Highland Park and the rest of the Knockando with a fine Dalmore 15-year-old thrown in. Time passed very quickly and I blame the two pear ciders for my poor state of health. But the craic was immense and the company better. Met the lively wee photographer, Jonathan, and had good craic with the sisters although things were getting a little hazy by then. I rolled home around ten knowing the next morning may be a rough passage to sail through. Actually although the pain was pretty sharp first thing it eased in plenty of time for work. Decide the walk to work would be therapeutic and so it turned out.


Hogmanay was a fine night at the Inn, there were a few later bookings, but all was done  in good time by 10.30pm. Again there were lots of craic, humour and banter and Amir. Turned out that really was Ahmed, (he was n’t playing hide and seek) an Indian who decided he wanted to experience the Scottish and Hogmanay. The “skirt” was requested and delivered and off he went to the changing room or the toilets in this case. As he did not appear after around 20 minutes I decided to see how things were going. He definitely had not mastered the dress code and he had the kilt tied on like a sari. So I had another first experience at the Inn……dressing a little Indian, all in the best possible taste of course. Over the course of the couple of days he was here he lost and found his car keys, phone, kilt and discovered how cold it is in the North. He said he was coming back, we shall see.

(And yet another day later) And still on Hogmanay with every one well versed in the etiquette of the night the Inn was empty by 10.40pm and I went off to the turbine house to take end of year production and exports. Then it was off to the head of the Bay, I like a bit of peace and quiet, contemplation time and spent the last hour of the year with a wee drammie of the Knockando. I welcomed the new Year in standing outside, listening to the placating sounds of a stream running down the hillside, gazing up at the Plough, and just being. Surprisingly hard thing to do even living in a place like Applecross. Then it was down to the Hall where the masses had gathered and there were the comradely greetings and well wishing. Local and visitor alike, in fact I think it is so important that those who visit here are made welcome and that seemed to be the case most of the time. Great atmosphere and good humour that over rode the lack of sounds coming from the stage. The key for the music room must have gone missing again as the sound system being used did not seem to be working too well. Did not take anything away from the night though and it was all over, for me anyway, by 1.30am.

Last night at the Inn was pleasant and easy-going and finished fairly early, walked home with only the one minor incident, dropped a glove in the dark and smacked my nose on a wall trying to find it. So only scar from the weekend did not involve any stimulants of any kind. getting back to a bit of normality today with dipping the tanks at the Filling Station and going up to see the Turbine was in good order. With Ewen having changed the two breaker switches there has been a good run of 100% since then. Paper work slowly coming through and for those who want to claim the tax relief the Apple Juice ref no is WMBC/MSB/S0970/39920 18331/SCEC and office we are dealing (Cardiff), hoping the forms are through in the next week. I know that the admin with HMRC has been a bit of a mare but is  coming together. Angus and his two mates were wandering around the Turbine House,


unconcerned to any human activity.



Then it was a bit of wood chopping and getting batteries of the Varuna for a charge and thoughts return to work and a bit of fishing. And just to finish with hoping that everyone has a year that brings contentment and peacefulness to their lives and all friends and family. A heartfelt thanks to all who have read, commented, liked and tweeted the Blog, I have enjoyed writing and taking photos for it.

Great Weather for a Hydro Scheme.

Amidst the political upheaval of Jeremy Corbyn not bowing low enough at the Cenotaph and no Scottish MPs on the Human Rights Committee to decide its abolition, (Six unelected Lords on it) Applecross Hydro is quietly gathering its investment together. It was a busy day for Alison, doing a phone conference just now, with an estimated £15,000+ coming in today and conversations on the phone answering many questions with promises of more investment. This brings our total to around £330,000. So impressive but as we keep saying it is a high bar and no drugs available for clearing it. We have American investment but nothing from Russia. Check out the facebook page with its growing popularity of over 665 likes. https://www.facebook.com/ApplecrossCommunityHydro/. Less than three weeks to catch the tax relief of 30%, although nothing to stop anyone putting money in after this date to gain around 4% per annum after year one.

I am finding this a complex time of year with the excitement/stress of seeing monies coming in coupled with the weather forecast for the week and alongside the accolades won by the Inn. Sent out with some prospectuses to people who have not received any from an aborted mail shot. Delivered most and a few more tomorrow are on the way and got involved at the Inn with a dead van. We tried to start it with jump leads and then a tow but with no success and it was left in the hands of the AA. False alarm when I saw the SSE boys in but they were sorting out a lightening strike on 3/4 Shore Street. I thought they had come in for our connection marked down for the twelfth of the month. Hope the gales do not interrupt our programme. Nipped up to the site, which was quiet today, the roofers coming in later, and only Dan there. Was under instructions to do a photo shoot with Dougal.


He duly obliged without any prompting.


He may be involved in advertising the Hydro shortly. Noticed a couple of stags


that Jimmy feeds by hand and they were not bothered when I wandered up to them and took a couple of snaps.


Yesterdays weather was pretty fresh,


the Dream Machine towed away before it was blown away.


The Aussies girls are quite impressed with this breezy spell,


more to come if the forecast is to be believed.


Not that long ago I was cycling down the road catching the Sand helicopter


on its homeward commute.


There are still many of the autumn colours on the trees.



Not many lambs appear in Applecross in December but crofting is changing over here


and I met the first of the new season. Just a quick snap shot as there were a couple of interested spectators and the wee one was wanting fed. A survivor of triplets. Turned up at the shop just before opening to drop in some calendars and pick up some dog food for our two. Then it was feeding the birds


and the bees


before heading out on the bike. Sort had an idea that it would be a long walk for Dougal and Eilidh by nipping up to the snow line on the Bealach. The nice thing about cycling up the road in Applecross you stop for chats on the way with drivers and dog walkers or who ever. Also there are those who keep a wary eye on you.


Was told the snow line was not that low here on the west coast, about 350 metres. So with no real aim to get to a certain height I just plodded on stopping and admiring where I live.



Another stop was at the bridge past the Snowblower Shed, except we have no snowblower now. There is a story here and I will have it soon for you, too vague to repeat just now. Allt Beag was a good stop off point for a drink.



He’s mad but lovely. The breeze was bitter and slowly increasing from the south-west. Had thought about going to sea but the forecast was 6 to 8 north-west going 6 to 8 south-west and did not think it worth the effort. So it was the Bealach as opposed to the Sound.



Possibly due to being stuck inside for the last couple of days the senses were in good shape to take in some awesome scenery.


Despite the lack of sunshine there  was a clarity to everything. Dougal and Eilidh enjoyed the run although I think that will be it for a couple of days for them. Stags and lots of snuffling around in the snow,


crossing streams and just having a sniff.


Made it up to the hairpin and decided that dogs and legs had enough.


The battery was still live when I arrived back home but is straight on charge as an earlier start at the Inn this afternoon has been requested.

Now it is 1.30am and back down from the Inn. Long slow cycle home in the teeth of a strong south-westerly but head full of a pleasant night at the Inn. Lots of regulars in and homely atmosphere, fire on, good food and then onto the malts, and a fair few were consumed. Lots of reminiscing, problem solving and a deep discussion on Applecross or should say A’Chomraich, a Sanctuary for many who stop and listen.

So that was Christmas.

Well into Boxing Day evening, a few pounds heavier and even less energy but quite relaxed about it. Christmas day entailed very little activity, although Dougal and Co had a good run around the Bay in the morning as I shifted the cut up tree up the shore a little. Still very breezy from the West with less rain.


The rest of the day entailed me not cooking anything and watching most of Gone With The Wind and Spartacus, that Gerrard Butler film. The venison had been in  the slow cooker for around twenty-four hours and was sweet and as tender as could be. Dug the last of the tatties and pulled a few carrots to go with the parsnips to complete the feast. This was all preceded by a starter of prawns, smoked bacon, garlic and soft cheese, prawns that were alive four hours before and very tasty. So that was Christmas and a very pleasant day it was with most of the family back home, Calum in Tasmania with the Plockton/Applecross Inn connection.

May have gone fishing today but worked a shift at the Inn instead as that took less effort. A little brighter.


Sent up to check the snow gates on the Hill, a new safety addition to prevent unsuspecting visitors getting stuck on the Bealach.


Quite often an emotive subject ,the Bealach being blocked, but sometimes it snows and sometimes the roadmen have holidays. I think I am more tolerant than many people, a little of the Celtic fatalism, when you just accept events, weather that you just do not control. If the weather is bad one does not go fishing and why fret. On the way to the gate there were a couple of stags grazing above the road at the Coal Shed.





Turning at the gate you could not help but admire the view across the Sound. It is so good to see the sun showing on the water and on the Bay.


With the Hill being closed the stream of visitors did not materialise. It takes other observers to comment on a morning at the Inn and the couple from London who had come down from the Torridon Hotel did just that. Seems while they were having their scallops we sold some milk to some one I sent some one down to my garden to pick rosemary for his soup and gave some one else a half pound of butter as he was cooking dinner and the shop was closed. All every day stuff but, coming from London, they loved it telling me he does not know who is neighbour is having lived beside them for ten years. Had a brief view of Mr Hingley who is now back on the road to some sense of normality. Yesterday part of his Christmas day involved roller skating down to the Inn in shorts, goggles, crash helmet and very brightly coloured socks.


Just about every one who came in today had one or more dogs with them, terriers, collies and Dougal’s sister over from Lochcarron and doing very well it appears.



Although there has been a bit of snow about and seen some cracking pictures of snow-covered mountains on social media, there has not been much in these parts. A smattering on the Bealach but not enough to cause any travelling difficulties. Weather at sea has not been the best over the last couple of days, not stormy but fresh enough for me not to worry too much about going out. In fact, cycling along the loch side today I was half thinking I “should” have gone out as it looked fairly quiet in between a squall driven day. But settled myself with thoughts that seemed to come right on top of each other. First the Inn have lovely fresh langoustine on the menu, then I thought I have n’t really any debt at the moment and then I remembered the last couple of days I have been out it was hard graft and I want to continue to enjoy fishing so if I keep going out on these days that enjoyment will fade. What am I going out for if the first two thoughts are true? At the Inn before I knew it and a cup of tea before going to gather some winter wood.

Reading the other day that the 1st of november is Samhain in the old Celtic calendar, The Day of the Dead. This is when the spirits of those gone before walk the road of life with the living. Such a strong Celtic, oral traditional feel to this and is in keeping with safeguarding the memories of our forebears. The Applecross Heritage Centre is a fine place for this. This has replaced the visiting of houses by the men of before. I remember, but did not appreciate it at the time the folk that used to visit my Seanair’s house in Toscaig, Kenny,Danny and the Donalds and Duncans of whom there one or two.

On the way to the wood, passing the Big House there were three imperious stags sitting on the front lawn.


They were fairly unconcerned and only moved as I got a wee bit too close for their comfort.


They were obviously in too good shape for any one to take a pot shot at and they are now safe for another year any way.


Back on the bike for home, via the shop, and as there was another squall passing through, stopped for a craic in Ali’s kitchen. Talking about this and that and that. Mainly about that which has to be sorted out next week. Going through Camusteel the sheep heading along the shore made me smile and stop for a shot. Who says they don’t act like sheep, it’s only when humans do this there is usually trouble in the air.


Straight back out for a Dougal walk as they had been in most of the morning and


as usual the weather puts up so many views and changes in light that these walks although not very long in distance take a fair bit of time.


Throughout the last couple of days there has been only one piece of music on the computer and that has been the soon to be released A Northerly Land by Iain Copeland iaincopeland.com/a-northerly-land/. Fabulous music with some brilliant poetry from George Gunn.

On a curious wee note I have noticed over the past couple of days how emails can be easily misread or misinterpreted, I suppose that goes for what I write here. Often people say that they read between the lines, a curious expression in itself. That is always going to be the case if you put something out there. Probably talked about this before and it is the same at the Inn you always remember the negative comment. And again like the Inn the support one gets far outweighs the daft stuff. Talking of the Inn, it was Kylesku Hotel’s night out and they were busy celebrating a successful season. They looked a happy, together team, Paul’s last night as another family leaves having done Applecross, reluctantly I have to say. Regulars Steve and Di are back for yet another year. They were telling me that they started coming here in 1990 and there have been huge changes and people since that time. There is a whole post there. Catriona from Kenmore was in too and I am hoping to get a history of Uags and the Crowlins from her. A Northerly Land is back on and I think it is off to Inverinate on Friday to hear Sketch. The only thing I am short off is time.

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