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Welcome to Doodlecat, where we enjoy the pleasures of life (with a slight bias towards the outdoors). This page is regularly updated with news and views plus information about any additions or changes to the various parts of the site. It acts as Doodlecat’s Blog too, so the odd rant considered opinion may pop up from time to time.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Chasing Charlie

That was a pretty wet holiday - but if you go to the North West of Scotland, you generally don't go for the sunshine - just as well!

Holly Tree near ArisaigWhat possessed the young pretender to abandon a luxurious and debauched exile in Rome for these rain soaked shores? Mind you, by all accounts his training on the continent stood him in good stead for withstanding the rigours of the climate, as his capacity for brandy well outstripped that of his hosts, seemingly unaffected whilst those about him slid decorously beneath the royal table. With that capacity for alcohol, and his ability to stravaig all over the rough country of  Moidart,  he would have been a great TGO challenger.

And the '45 was probably a closer run thing than many history books allow - King George and the Hanoverian court were packing their bags as he reached Derby. Had Charlie carried the day when debated with his advisers in Derby, and evaded engagement en route to London ... ah, but the whole enterprise is littered with 'what ifs'. Ultimately it led to the barren moor at Culloden and the destruction of the highland way of life.

Miss W in GlenfinnanWe had an excellent holiday in the cradle of the '45, and we enjoyed several stravaigs in the prince's footsteps but (sorry Iain) failed in one of our objectives - to find the engraved stone that allegedly marks the actual spot where the Stuart standard was raised above Glenfinnan. It was just too wet & misty! We also failed to locate the gold bullion sent from France to assist the rebels It arrived too late and was allegedly buried near Arisaig. Ho hum ... back to doing the lottery.

We enjoyed our expeditions though, and got in some good rough walking. The new Rab waterproof trews proved their worth too. Not the most elegant, but with super articulated knees and a generous cut they are supremely comfortable, even when scrambling up some unexpectedly steep inclines (I'm not a great scrambler).

 In Corryhully Bothy - note electric lights!
My TGO Challenge with Alan next May will start off at Lochailort, so plenty of opportunities to do a bit more 'chasing Charlie' (that's the pretender, not the white powder, Al).

This is a great area to explore, but beware. There are few circular walks (OK, the Corryhully horseshoe might count in good weather and longer daylight) and the ridges are rough, alternately boggy and craggy as you proceed. That said, the views are to die for, and the satisfaction after a day on the hill here is absolute. But most of all, it's the coast that captivates as much as the hills. Inlets, lochs, islets. Hidden forts and long abandoned fishing villages and crofts, plus, unusual in many parts of Scotland, some quite fantastic woodland too.

And we did get some sunshine - and here are a few holiday snaps to prove it.

Loch Morar
Loch Morar

Fort William and Ben Nevis at night
Fort William & Ben Nevis at dusk

Glenfinnan monument at night
Glenfinnan at night - very atmospheric

The Glenfinnan monument is very atmospheric, but my attention was caught by a new addition to the shoreline at Arisaig since we were last here.

A draped parachute is sculpted over a polished granite pylon with the lines from the folded 'chute etched down the flanks of polished stone. This is the new memorial to the Czech agents of the SOE who were billeted in this area at several of the large houses. Other nations were at Inverailort Castle and Morar Lodge. They trained at Arisaig House and in the surrounding countryside before being parachuted into occupied territory to 'set Europe ablaze'.

The memorial is by sculptor Josef Vajce, and the foundation stone for the memorial was blessed by Pope Benedict XVI.We looked at it and thought of the men who left this place to parachute into the freezing night air during WWII. Very brave men, and a fitting tribute to their memory.

Czech SOE memorial at Arisaig

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Blogger Martin Rye said...

It is a great starting place Phil. Lots fine hills near by as well.

November 12, 2009 at 9:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great stuff! Looks like y'all had a great holiday ♥

November 12, 2009 at 11:49 PM  
Blogger Alan Sloman said...

Oh my lord!

All that parachute silk. And me with just a needle and cotton...

Phil - it's down to you this year for the silk party dresses for Braemar. I can donate some Duct-tape and blister plasters.

Oh - and a smidgeon of Ardbeg for relief.

November 13, 2009 at 12:29 AM  
Blogger Phil said...

Great hills indeed, Martin. Bloody great hills!

PW - A good time had by all, although the weather had a touch of the Wainwrights about it ;-)

Al ... more attention to detail, sir. That parachute is hewn from solid granite and so not ideal for a plummet into the ether, nor for your party frock. Last year's will have to do, Cinders.

November 13, 2009 at 10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you are going down to Loch Beoraid for Gods' sake don't let the Sloman lead, he'll remember the mess he made of it last time because he did not heed the advice of that most venerable vetter Mr. Grumpy!

December 27, 2009 at 9:39 AM  

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