So back in February I was contacted by a gentleman called Paul Murton regards a TV program he was making. After a little while I realised this was Paul Murton from the TV show “The Grand Tours of Scotland”, one of the few shows on TV that shows and does justice to the Scottish Countryside and Landscapes, I was rather excited!
After a few missed calls and voicemails we eventually caught up over the phone. In my excitement I was under the impression they were hoping to utilise some footage from the Steaming Boots vids and I went on a 10 minute babble about what may be used and what couldn’t etc etc, not allowing Paul a word in edgeways. Once I stopped for breath, Paul was able to speak and explained he didn’t actually require any footage (they had their own team to capture the views!), but in fact he wanted to include me in one of his shows! I agreed instantly and so the wait for a filming date began.
The new series is exploring Scottish Lochs with some episodes ending on a mountain in the vicinity. The months passed and winter turned to spring, and the communication started up again. A Sunday evening was proposed so I took the Monday off work and started to examine the forecasts. There had been a superb spell of weather in April /May, however as sods law would have it , on the weekend of the proposed shoot the High Pressure faded and Atlantic Lows started to tumble in.
The Sunday evening high camp was cancelled and due to a tight shooting schedule for the Grand Tours Team – they told me that the following weekend we were going to try again, only this time it would happen rain or shine!!
As it turns out the weather was fine, in fact it was superb, so good that I decided to make the most of the weekend and head up a day early and squeeze in a wild camp the night before – seemed like a good idea at the time ;)
So – after work I packed my bags and took the familiar journey NW towards Glencoe. It was stunning… and warm. By the time I reached the Jacksonville car park, the cars thermometer was showing 28 degrees. It was one of those rare moments in Scotland where you open the car door to a blast of warm air and almost want to stay inside the cool car!!! With this heat I knew I was going to be taking my time! My plan was to find the spot where I took some sunrise shots of the Buachaille when the first snows hit last winter, and set up camp and hope for a nice sunrise.
I headed up the southern slopes of Chrulaiste – looking for the path beside the burn I had taken a few years prior. However there were only remnants of this lower down, I was sure it was much more prominent on my last visit – maybe a trick of the memory;) and getting older (I had been in a prior decade of life last time;)). Anyway, without much ado, I found a nice spot and set about pitching the tent. It was warm, but it was also windy! The pitch was amazing, and as always, Chrulaiste didn’t disappoint with its views. Its such an amazing spot, probably one of my favourites and I made sure I pitched with a front door view to enjoy when I did eventually hit the hay!
The sun lowered and there were a few clouds about, just enough to make for some decent snapsJ Camera away I sat and enjoyed the sun dropping down over the north western horizon. It was time for bed… However sleep was not forth coming due to the strength of the winds. I was just glad I was in my Scarp- holding its own as always J
Last look at the clock and it was 0200am – urrgghhhhh. I had come to snap the sunrise hitting the Buachaille so was determined to get up early Only problem was sunrise was about 0430 and twilight starting about an hour before this….
0345 and I got up….. Super tired- don’t think I’ve experienced bed bag eyes like it! Coffee was first on the menu, then I waited……
And waited , and waited – nothing… The clouds were preventing a sunrise shot L never mind – no sunrise shot like last time – but who cares , I was standing with one of the best views in the world at my feet… superb….
I eventually headed back to the car and got back down about 7 ish. I had been feeling ok after my coffee but when I reached the car I opened the boot, took my pack off and laid it down in the boot. I then proceeded to crawl in beside it and before I knew it I was fast asleep! A few hours later I awoke and had my second coffee and breakfast for the day!
My Grand Plans for today were to strike up Curved Ridge before meeting the TV team. However, best laid plans etc and I decided to conserve some energy and explore some lower levels walks around the coe. It was a great day, I firstly had a stroll along the River Coupall then started making my way west through the Glen. I pulled up at one of the parking lay byes – with some difficulty – good weather and bank holiday = super busy A82!!!! I then headed for the skyline wanting a snoozing spot with the classic Glencoe view. After about 20 minutes hiking along the hillside I found the spot I was looking for. A grand spot to snooze.
Snooze had I then headed further down and found myself at the car park at Loch Achtriochtan. The waterfall under Aonach Dubh was my next target and as I climbed up the possibility of me requiring a cool down rose with the temperature. Off the path and a slippery scramble saw me at the falls.
A quick look around, and I decided I was on my own and I stripped down and headed for some open air bathing. I stood under the waterfalls first then braved the cool pool, it was superb and refreshing!
Time was marching on and my rendezvous with the Grand Tours TV team was nearing.
Must admit I was a little nervous. I had no idea what to expect, I knew I would recognise Paul but was really hoping I would find them. As it turned out it wasn’t too hard. As I pulled up to the car park I spotted a van with some serious camera equipment.
It was great, they were very welcoming and made me feel at home straight away. The team comprised of Richard the cameraman, Murray – camera assistant, (another) Richard – sound man, Ceara – producer and of course Paul.
They had already had a full on day filming in Loch Etive and so must have been tired so I thank them for making me feel welcome and putting up with my constant chat!!
Our objective was a summit camp on Creag Dubh at the head of Glen Etive. We met at 1900hrs so with sunset near 21.45, we were keen to get going.
I may have complained previously about the size and weight of my camping and camera gear, however that will now stop. These guys had some serious equipment to carry- really putting me to shame ;)
Prior Steaming Boots filming involves a camera being place and me walking past or piece to camera etc etc… A proper film involved the team getting a few angles of the same shot and sometimes a number of takes, so the same bit of hillside was walked by myself and Paul sometimes numerous times. Time was against us though and we were starting to think that we may miss sunset. This would have been a disastrous tonight as there were just enough clouds in the sky to promise something special at dusk. It was looking very promising for a fine sunset, however you can’t ever be sure as clouds move and can spoil or make sunsets!!!!
After a bit of time we reached a blowy summit and I set about setting up the tent with Pauls help. The team were going to be spending the night a little lower down on the mountain so as to not have too many tents in shot an also be a little more sheltered! However what this meant for them was that not only did they have to carry all their equipment up for sunset they also had to get up at 3am to carry it back up for sunrise – total respect!!
So with the camera rolling, I was under pressure to try and set the tent up and not look like a complete idiot!! The wind was strong and it did take a bit of persistence to get it up without it flying away – that may have been a YBF moment if that had happened!! Haha.
We had made good time and with the tent up we did an interview with the still warm rays of sun glowing to the west. Really hoping this comes out well, it felt like a good spot. Interviews done, the five of us watched and waited. There were decent amounts of cloud above us and the western horizon was clear – perfect for dusk skies… and we got them, the colours slowly crept into the clouds ad lit the skies beautifully, fantastic… My only regret was that I didn’t really get much of my own filming down for the Steaming Boos video – however I wasn’t here for SB . Can’t wait to see the outcome on the TV!
So off to bed and the team said they would return about 4am. I must admit that I slept well (probably as I was so knackered from only 2 hrs sleep the night before!!!).
I woke before my alarm and headed over to the summit Cairn to watch the TV crew emerge from their tents with head torches on. Unlike the sunset, I was 50 50 on whether the sunrise would happen. From the prior day I didn’t expect much, however if it did happen, then this was one fine place to witness it!!
A haze hung over the north eastern skies and it was hard to tell how thick this cloud was. Too thick and the sun would be blotted out and light would come to the world in unspectacular fashion!
A deep purple started to glow behind the haze as the crew arrived, it was now 3.45, about an hour to sunrise. It never really gets pitch black at this time of year, so we headed over to the tent and got some shots of me emerging from the tent.
We then waited for sunrise…. It kept us waiting too!!! It wasn’t until the sun showed its self, rising up from Ben Alder making an amazing intro for The Grand Tours team. The haze hadn’t been thick cloud and in fact it was the haze that made this a memorable sunrise. At first the top rim of the ball of fire peeked over the horizon, the haze enabling us to look straight at it and the ball of fire rose steadily – changing colour from a purple to eventually and orange then yellow beacon. It was spectacular in its own right, but the fact that it was rising above the lochs and Lochans of Rannoch Moor added to the drama with these reflecting and lighting up the watery landscape below us.
By 05.45 the sun had risen above the haze and sunrise was over. The team decided on a few extra hours of sleep and retreated to base camp. I however was wide awake and for the next few hours I dotted about Creag Dubh and even par took in some early morning sun bathing!!!!
By 0830 I decided to strike camp and headed down to meet the team emerging to their second wakening of the day. Richard (sound man) had been in the same position as me and hadn’t gone back to sleep so we spent half an hour chatting about some local shops (both come from same area) and the trials and tribulations of fatherhood! Soon all were packed away and ready to descend the mountain whilst most were starting their mountain day - All was well with the world…….
Grand Tours of Scotland – The Loch - Loch Etive – to go out later in 2017………
Some thoughts and reports from my outdoors activties...