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Guest blog by commissioned photographer, Chris Puddephatt

After several attempts to contact Alec the team leader by phone (mine was playing up, and his had no signal at all…. modern technology!!!), I drove up to Glencanisp one evening to have a proper old fashioned conversation about my next visit. It was good to meet again after almost 12 months.

The following day, the forecast said that early drizzle and mist would clear mid-morning; three separate forecasts, no less. That would be fine, so off I went; accompanied by a mate, Derek, who hadn’t been to Suilven for too long. We drank tea in the car park to let the weather clear a bit; then it looked brighter, so we set off. Duped.

Up at the gully, we met Alec, Xabi and Ewan, and it was wet. I planned to do some time-lapse and carried all the gear, which is quite heavy after a while, but it wasn’t happening in these conditions.

Derek and myself thought we were buying time by going up to the summit, but all we did was get even wetter. And there was no view.

Enough about me.

Alec stuck in Groundhog Day. Photo © Chris Puddephatt.
Alec stuck in Groundhog Day. Photo © Chris Puddephatt.

Down below, the Workers looked like they’d been rolling in muddy puddles; totally wet and totally filthy. The job looks hard enough anyway, but this really can’t make it easier. Fred and Barney didn’t have to put up with these conditions in Bedrock.

Big stones are getting lugged into position, and are looking like lovely steps, but we suggest to Alec that he could consider bringing a yard brush next time. That went down well…..

Ewan manoeuvres a big stone into position. Photo © Chris Puddephatt.
Ewan manoeuvres a big stone into position. Photo © Chris Puddephatt.

Xabi has dug a very big hole. Necessary to put big stones in; but it’s filled up with water. He pokes a small one out of the bottom of the hole with the pinch-bar, and it was clearly the bath-plug; the water is gone in a trice. I see on the wooden peg near the hole the letters “XD” and realise that this is appropriately going to be a “cross drain”.

Xabi trying to find the bath plug while working on a cross drain. Photo © Chris Puddephatt.
Xabi trying to find the bath plug while working on a cross drain. Photo © Chris Puddephatt.

So far, I haven’t got my proper camera out of its waterproof bag at all; all the photos are on my phone.

Derek is very complimentary about the renovated path, and full of praise for the blokes working in those conditions. Especially after walking an hour and a half each way on the daily commute.

I leave. That’s as good as its going to get today.

At the bottom of the gully, we look back, and can’t see the work site. Neither can we see the loch just in front of us. I threaten to write a letter to the weather forecasters.

About five more paces and it suddenly clears. The heather is flowering, so I get the camera out and grab a couple of pictures. And I see Alec standing on a rock waving to me.

I briefly consider retracing my steps, but see what’s blowing up the glen, and throw in the towel. A wet towel it is too.

The team working in the misty gully. Photo © Chris Puddephatt.
The team working in the misty gully. Photo © Chris Puddephatt.

Find out more about the Suilven Path Project here


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