The Good, The Bad and The Hairy.

The definition of adventure is really exclusive to the individual - from an early age I always believed I could have an adventure inside my head even on the shortest of journeys. But I seemed to have forgotten that this summer, insisting that I was too busy and too tired.

It was while giving a lift to my pal Climbing Kev on the way to work, that I was reminded that this in itself was something one could write home about. I suppose that’s just what happens when you get into conversation (or a vehicle) with Kev - who had originally hoped I wouldn’t bother conversing at all, and that he and his electric bike would make it all the way to Kinlochourn on The Rough Bounds of Knoydart in companionable silence. This was his 2nd attempt hitching a lift with the original idea being to cycle all the way back to Fort William - a distance of 50 miles. Unfortunately, heavy rain, inadequate clothing, and a bike designed to require less effort, therefore generating less body heat, meant a rescue package from Running Girl at Invergarry to avoid hypothermia. (It was also the same day that saw me being towed through 2 flooded lochside sections of the road by the Stalker in his 4 Wheel Drive in order to get home.) This time, he parked his own van at Invergarry and added extra layers of clothing and a better attitude. At least this time he was also more realistic about the companionable silence. In fact I was just giving him a lecture on not wearing all his layers of clothing in the van, quoting my mother on the wisdom of ‘getting the benefit of his jacket’ if he put it on once he was out the van, when we came upon a jaw dropping sight.

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Surprisingly, it wasn’t the landscape that took our breath away. It was a middle aged woman standing with her back to us in a passing place, who suddenly turned and started running towards us. She was wearing a bra and a shower cap (and running trousers.) Having just been discussing Climbing Kev’s likely hypothermia if he didn’t take his jacket off right now and put it on at the end of the journey, I couldn’t quite reconcile this image of light attire on a cold drizzly day in the middle of nowhere. Climbing Kev couldn’t reconcile the shower cap. We sat in stunned silence until I blurted out - “A bra????” And Kev blurted out “A shower cap???” Then we wondered if we’d really seen her. Kev was worried that he’d come cycling back to find the shower cap hanging on a tree. I figured that was ok as long as the bra wasn’t hanging on the tree too.

Kev worried about this for a while, until he realised there was much worse to face……..

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As we drove along the 22 miles of single track, we encountered 3 separate herds which would threaten his capacity for peaceful communing with nature all along the route, blocking his way to Invergarry.

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There is absolutely nothing one can say to reassure Climbing Kev that these are docile creatures (any more than one can persuade him to remove an outdoor jacket inside a warm vehicle). He has read all the literature on the matter and can quote how many deaths there are a year at the hooves of cows and mostly to farmers who would tell you that these are docile creatures. As we continued along the road, the biggest herd was to be found at the top of his first climb up from the shores of Loch Hourn - at least 20 of the hairy, ferocious mammoths. After surviving with his life intact, and no stabbings from sharp horns, he could tell me later that one of the beasts was standing at the far end of the bridge, ginger locks blowing in the wind, a menacing glare in his/her eye……

 No cow in this image, but it was there, he assures me.

No cow in this image, but it was there, he assures me.

I could hear the haunting strains of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly as he pondered his options - one of which was to avoid the bridge all together and take the very long, old route which this bridge shortcuts. But the cows were at the top of the old road too.

By the time he got to any trees that might have shower caps hanging on them, his electric bike was on full turbo power and everything passed in a blur. He considers himself lucky to be alive and it’s unlikely there will be a 3rd attempt.

He missed some nice views……..

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I would like to thank Kev for his company and apologise for my uproarious laughter at what is a very genuine fear of the bovine kind. It was really him who had the adventure and me who enjoyed it vicariously and it was very rude and unkind of me to laugh quite so much. If we learnt anything from this, it might be that adding just a shower cap under his helmet when he gets out of a warm vehicle, could make all the difference and be enough to scare off the cows.