Millican Weekends are a series of stories that celebrate the people making big adventures out of small pockets of time.
A group of friends from UK based adventure blog, Everyday Adventure, break away from the conventional stag-do, as they roam the wild landscape and camp out on the Isle of Skye.
Words by Matthew Bowen | Photography by Jake Baggaley
When our friend Jake told us he was getting married to the love of his life, we knew the stag do was going to be wild. Not casinos and clubs until 6 am wild, but running up mountains, swimming in waterfalls and crawling into bivvy bags with the setting sun, wild. After all, who’d rather be stumbling into another bar when they could be striding heroically up another mountain instead?
Since launching our blog at the beginning of last year, we’ve taken every opportunity to step out of our comfort zone and into the great outdoors. We have conventional jobs and work in offices most of the time so try to pack in as much adventure into our downtime as possible.
Everyday Adventure is built on the premise that adventure is everywhere. Though we love adventure in far-flung lands, we can’t climb Everest or paddle the Amazon every single day. We can, however, explore new places in the beautiful island that we call home every day. Or, at least, most days.
The Isle of Skye has been somewhere we’ve longed to visit for a while now and the few days we’d taken off work for Jake’s stag do gave us ample time to explore it. We made an itinerary that focused on beautiful, secluded locations and cut back on the heavy endurance that normally underpins our trips. We were being joined by four new recruits (Jake’s brothers and oldest friends) for this adventure and wanted to make sure they enjoyed themselves.
Our first destination was Loch Ness. With a few hours to kill before the final member of the group’s flight landed, we thought we’d take a dip in the famous Loch to get the adventure going. The water was cold and refreshing but murky and mysterious. We stayed just long enough to dip our heads, and headed back to the airport filled with a sense of accomplishment.
With the group now complete, we headed towards Skye and to the first camping spot of the trip – Sgurr Mhic Choinnich or ‘MacKenzie’s Peak’. The weather changed while we were on the road, bright blue skies turning to ominous dark clouds and eventually, torrential storms. Arriving at the base of the mountain at midnight, we stepped out of our cars and cowered under the raincoats held firmly over our heads to discuss our next move.
The plan had been to climb halfway up the mountain to sleep that evening, but the group was split. The majority wanted to make camp near the cars and wait out the storm, but Jake the Stag was impatient to begin the climb. Group solidarity was the only option, so we had a brief word with ourselves and hit the trail.
Stepping onto a mountain in the dead of night, though inadvisable, was a revelationary experience. Sheep bleated and waterfalls crashed close by, but we couldn’t see them. With no view of the summit to intimidate us, we were able to process our surroundings metre by metre as we made our way slowly upwards. It was like nothing we’d ever done before and as the rain hit our faces and the wind swept up through gaps in our raincoats, we felt more alive than ever.
One of the side effects of running an adventure blog is a healthy collection of outdoor kit. On top of the raincoats, base layers and hiking boots that already spill out of our cupboards, we occasionally get offered new things to try by independent companies like Millican. Fully water resistant and tough as old boots, we were particularly grateful for their bags on this trip. They took everything we threw at them, and then some, which is more than can be said for a few members of our group.
Halfway up the mountain, it became painfully clear that there really is no such thing as bad weather, but only bad clothing choices.
Though the well-equipped Everyday Adventure gang weren’t exactly tearing along, our head torches and raincoats meant we could leap streams and bound over boulders with confidence. By the time we reached our camping spot after three hours of walking in the rain, however, one of the new members was struggling to string a coherent sentence together. His cotton beanie and skate shoes weren’t offering much protection, and he’d been soaked through for two solid hours.
On reaching our camp spot for the night – a small plateau on the side of the mountain – we pitched a tent and ushered him inside. We offered him our dry clothes and food rations and offered to sleep outside his tent. We knew he’d be ok, but he wasn’t so certain. Once we’d tucked him in for the night, we laid out our bivvy bags on the sodden ground and crawled inside.
Though the weather tried to spoil the experience, the novelty of sleeping on the side of a mountain with good friends wasn’t lost on us. We felt privileged to be there and knew it was an experience to be savoured.
After a few hours’ sleep, we woke with the sunrise and planned our day. We decided to head to Fairy Pools, which was once singled out as the best place in the UK by one of our adventuring heroes, Alastair Humphreys during fireside conversation.
While we were on Skye, The Telegraph published this article, bemoaning the influx of visitors to the island and explaining that local police were urging visitors to stay away. Because nobody of sound mind would have spent the previous night how we did, this came as a bit of a surprise to us. We thought that Skye was more or less empty until we hit Fairy Pools where we spent half an hour just trying to find a parking spot. The only way to avoid the hordes of tourists at the pools was to jump into the water (where nobody else was). Once we were swimming, we couldn’t have cared less about the crowds.
Back out on dry land again and the crowds started to become a problem. We got stuck in gridlock for half an hour and decided we’d be better off heading in the opposite direction. We found a remote beach using Google Maps and figured we’d spend the night there.
We cooked our food on BBQs and sat eating with a view of the sun setting over the Cuillins across the North Atlantic sea. We made a shooting gallery from rocks piled on top of each other, and spent hours trying to knock the towers down without interruption from another living soul. Conversation turned to Jake’s wedding and, exhausted from a few days of adventure seeking, we fell asleep without any trouble. Waking up on that beach was the highlight of the trip, made even better by a sizeable rock perched just above deep sea water that was the perfect spot for an early morning dip.
With a little pre-planning and a strong desire to avoid convention, we found places to spend our two evenings that showcased the varying landscapes of Skye in all their glory. While the rest of the Island groaned under the weight of the August tourist influx, we were able to enjoy Skye as it’s meant to be enjoyed – as a mecca for adventure travel and an antidote to the modern world. We achieved our aim of executing a stag do that broke away from convention and were left with memories that will endure.