Camping in the highlands had seemed like a good idea at the time.
Well, some of us were. Others were busy posing…
Then the midges found us.
We were woefully unprepared for the ensuing onslaught. Luckily I had a bottle of Amazon-rainforest strength fly repellent, that was frantically dug out of my bag. Do not get this stuff on your lips. It burns. Then your mouth goes numb. I had also brought smoke-coils as we always used these on Nauru, and I figured tropical mosquitoes had to be worse than Scottish midges, but there were just too many midges. The fly-repellant stopped them biting, but did not deter the clouds that swarmed around us, filling our lungs and obscuring our vision. It felt like we were in some kind of crap horror film. Katy and I erected the tents together as quickly as possible, being unusually polite to each other.
“When you have a moment, could you possibly pass me one of those tent pegs you’re holding?” [Shaking head fiercely with eyes closed].
The view from outside our tents. Not bad eh!
Once both tents were secure, sleeping mats blown up and sleeping bags unrolled, I leapt into the porch of mine and Tom’s tent, zipped myself inside, and sat there for a good five minutes regaining my composure. I have no idea what Katy was doing at this point, as I felt like I’d temporarily lost my mind. Perhaps she was doing the same.
Tom returned around then with our bags (we had been forced to drop them and run, carrying only the tents, so he had taken on the responsibility of lugging them over to our campsite). We grabbed gas stove, water, mugs, tea bags and Adventure Food, and scrambled down to where the loch flowed into the sea. A wide expanse of dry rock and a gentle breeze kept most of the midges at bay here, as did constant movement. We were able to perambulate around the area, like druids circling their ceremonial gas stove, clutching much needed mugs of calming sleep-tea.
Our Adventure Food supper was surprisingly good. Packets of dehydrated meals need only the addition of boiling water, a fierce stir, then a 10 minute wait as they resume the appearance of food inside the bag they come in. I pulled out a bottle of Oban for us to share (whilst packing my backpack in London I had made the difficult but absolutely correct decision to bring whisky instead of my camera tripod), and as darkness descended the midges finally abated.
Waking up in the wild is the most amazing experience. The air is crisp, the sun gleams like silver on the loch’s surface below you, and the percussive impact of the view hits you as soon as you unzip your tent. After another Adventure breakfast (Katy and I somewhat suspicious of how they crammed 600 calories into a small bag of sugary porridge and raisins), we packed up our gear and got a boat back to Elgol.
Has anyone else survived Scotland’s midges? There must be a support group for us somewhere.
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