One afternoon a few years ago, my father and I, up in the Highlands on holiday, took a stroll into Coire Mhic Nobuil from the car park near Torridon House; I wanted to show him the fine view of Beinn Alligin. We planned to go no further than the first footbridge over the river and so, given this unambitious itinerary, we were not conventionally kitted out for hillwalking. We both had on our heavy boots, but we wore Barbour jackets and had no rucksacks. My father sported a flat cap while I was in my 'trademark' deerstalker that has been to many a summit with me. (The deerstalker is, I would suggest, a highly practical piece of hillwalking kit that is greatly underestimated these days - though often imitated by modern designs when you think about it.)
On reaching the footbridge, we spent a few minutes there, then started to retrace our steps. We were nearly back at the car park when we saw two walkers who had just set out. Judging by the gear that these fellows were wearing and carrying, some more serious outing than our own was intended despite the lateness of their start. As soon as they spotted us, they began to behave a little sheepishly, stopping on the well-defined path and poring rather unnecessarily over their map. As we reached them, to my astonishment one asked - very politely and seemingly unsure which of us to address - if it would be all right to walk up the glen to get on to Beinn Alligin. My father, obviously being mistaken for a laird, smiled benignly while I tried hard to conceal my amusement and took on the role of himself's ghillie.
After pausing for effect, seeming to scan whole mountainsides for any sign of deer before reaching a decision, I told them there would be no problem on this occasion. I then pointed them towards the footbridge and wished them an enjoyable climb. As they went on their grateful way, we mused over how mischievous we could have been had we so chosen - insisting that stalking considerations made it imperative for them to stick strictly to some gruesome route, across swamps and then through deep heather all the way to the top...
MacLeod of MacLeod
TAC 73 Index