South Uist 1980.

Age group 16yrs - 16yrs 11 months

06/08/1980 - 27/08/1980

Leaders:- Simon and Rose Atkinson,

A/Ls:- Mark Banks, Giles Henschall, Tim Hayley, Sarah Gillot, Gwen McConkey, Judith Smith

Members:- Nina Avery, Fiona Firth, Kay Vandervelden, Louise Wordsall, Helen Lennon, Helen Walker, Brigid Hopper, Debbie Byrne, Louise Waite, Christine Johnson, Alex Langdon, Julia Murray, Robert Ball, Simon Lingard, Luc Osstyn, Paul Newton, Paul Bloomfield, Lee Cullinane, Nigel Williams, Andrew Griffin, Tim Baxter, Jim (Alan) Shepard, David Hunt, Geoff King, Gary Robinson, Douglas Warburton

Leaders Report

The South Uist Expedition 1980 will be remembered by those who were on it, as the year of the bear and the members of this expedition must be among the most active and enthusiastic ever seen on an S.H.S. Expedition, this is probably due to the Loch Eynort ridge [midge? Ed]. On certain days the only way to escape the hordes of nasty, biting insects was to get away from the campsite by whatever means were possible:- boat, sailing dinghy, canoe, foot or by swimming. Every morning and evening certain assistant leaders and leaders were seen trying to perfect the Hebridean wind dance, hoping to encourage a nice breeze to whisk away our unwelcome visitors.

The expedition did not start as well as we had hoped, through some confusion on the part of the North Uist Expedition our equipment did not arrive until 8 p.m. The tide was getting lower and lower, the light was fading, and the long, long wait had enabled a great deal of boredom to set in. Nonetheless the expedition members responded in a typically enthusiastic way once the equipment did arrive. There were screams of delight from Gwen during her first experience of putting up a marquee, particularly as it was nearly dark. However, in the manner of all crises on S.H.S. expeditions, everything worked out in the end.

Probably for the first time in the history of S.H.S. expeditions absolutely no projects were undertaken. This may be as a result of a lack of enthusiasm on the leaders and assistant leaders part or perhaps more likely, due to the fact that most of the members had just completed 0 levels and required a rest from their studies. However, where there was little enthusiasm for projects there was an abundance for more physical pursuits such as sailing, canoeing, climbing, wide games and murderball, to mention but a few.

Path to Ben More 28/05/2005 Copyright Tom Richardson

The Polachar Inn, 1990. Copyright Neil King

Probably for the first time in the history of S.H.S. expeditions absolutely no projects were undertaken. This may be as a result of a lack of enthusiasm on the leaders and assistant leaders part or perhaps more likely, due to the fact that most of the members had just completed 0 levels and required a rest from their studies. However, where there was little enthusiasm for projects there was an abundance for more physical pursuits such as sailing, canoeing, climbing, wide games and murderball, to mention but a few.

Some of the most popular pastimes seemed to be related to the stomach and the filling of it. Rose carried out several cooking demonstrations, showing the captivated audience (including assistant leaders) how to prepare such delicacies as;- Hebridean crunch, toffee a la Lock Eynort, pommes de toffee, fried cheese butties and fried jam butties.

Another favourite pastime was rabbiting. No ......... catching rabbits for culinary purposes using a spade and a Hebridean dog (on loan from one of the Islanders). This proved to be most fruitful. Mussels and oysters were also collected and eaten with much relish; except by Paul Newton who was nearly sick after his first raw oyster. Ever tried an oyster butty?

 Many bivvies were undertaken but perhaps the most popular was the one to Polachar. I never really understood why I became so popular when I asked who would like to come with me to Polachar for a bivvy. Gwen's bivvies were always most eventful, but many people consider that she never went anywhere that was more than then minutes walk from a hostelry where one could purchase an alcoholic beverage (this girl should go far).

 

But what of our intrepid leader? What activities did he partake in? Well, he spent such of his time afloat, (no midges - except when collecting huge logs from small islands) His expertise at the helm of the P4 became legendary - ask Giles or Tim (Haley) - and he developed a new technique in observing seals. After getting stuck whilst climbing, our hero "jumped off" because of cramp (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it) and decided to turn to more gentle pursuits such a drinking tea and eating bread and butter at Angie's, a much frequented spot at Loch Eynort. But what of Rose, our other partner in crime? Rose spent much of her time cooking (just for a change), sleeping, yelling at poor unfortunates (like me) and sleeping in strange tents at Polachar.

Lee found a novel way to reducing the numbers of the vast population of midges. Smoke bombs. This technique proved to be most successful but next time you wish to de-midge the bog tent, please make sure that there is nobody in it. Poor Sara came out looking like a kipper!

The extremely clever society rat reared it's ugly head once again, this time at Loch Eynort, managing to evade the various rat traps set for it. Good rat traps must surely become standard issue so as to avoid losing large quantities of cheese, cake etc. Also honey and sugar puffs would be useful just in case that Hebridean bear should once again make a bid for freedom. The society could engage itself in an unusual "bear trapping" project.

The expedition would not have been the same without the vociferous support of Gwen during the evenings. Green 'Grow the Rushes O' will never be the same again.

Poll a'Chara, South Uist, 1981 Poll a' chara, Sound of Barra, Barra Island visible in the distance.

Copyright Helmut Zozmann

But what of our intrepid leader? What activities did he partake in? Well, he spent such of his time afloat, (no midges - except when collecting huge logs from small islands) His expertise at the helm of the P4 became legendary - ask Giles or Tim (Haley) - and he developed a new technique in observing seals. After getting stuck whilst climbing, our hero "jumped off" because of cramp (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it) and decided to turn to more gentle pursuits such a drinking tea and eating bread and butter at Angie's, a much frequented spot at Loch Eynort. But what of Rose, our other partner in crime? Rose spent much of her time cooking (just for a change), sleeping, yelling at poor unfortunates (like me) and sleeping in strange tents at Polachar.

Lee found a novel way to reducing the numbers of the vast population of midges. Smoke bombs. This technique proved to be most successful but next time you wish to de-midge the bog tent, please make sure that there is nobody in it. Poor Sara came out looking like a kipper!

The extremely clever society rat reared it's ugly head once again, this time at Loch Eynort, managing to evade the various rat traps set for it. Good rat traps must surely become standard issue so as to avoid losing large quantities of cheese, cake etc. Also honey and sugar puffs would be useful just in case that Hebridean bear should once again make a bid for freedom. The society could engage itself in an unusual "bear trapping" project.

The expedition would not have been the same without the vociferous support of Gwen during the evenings. 'Green Grow the Rushes O' will never be the same again.

Like all good things the expedition had to come to an end and off we all went on our separate ways. This was a marvellous expedition to have been on, certainly a more friendly, likeable and enthusiastic group of teenagers would be difficult to find. My thanks go to my extremely capable assistant leaders, the many hard working S.H.S. officials, the owner of the island for permission to use the site, and last but certainly not east to all the islanders for their marvellous hospitality, particularly the MacDonald family.

SIMON ATKINSON

I was contacted by Nina who had discovered the site and she has dug out her only photo of this expedition shown below. Luckily she had more photos of her Loch Shiel expedition in 1981 and a few of S Uist 1984 so a big thanks to Nina for getting in touch.

Thanks also for providing a more comprehensive list of names. For some reason the participants were not listed in the annual report and so I had cobbled together names from articles in the report which was an incomplete list.

29/07/2017 

Hi Nick

An old school friend has just sent me a link to your site, and what wonderful memories it brought back. I went on 3 expeditions and to two reunions around 80/81 I think. I was reading my old diaries a few days ago and have have a full record of at least one of the camps, and I think some photos in the loft. Someday I might transcribe some of the diarys and look out some photos for your site.

We recently borrowed an old army tent for a garden party and I was the only one who knew how to put it up. I realised that it was probably my SHS experiences that I was drawing on.

Do you remember the SHS songbooks? Were they around in your day? We were lucky enough to have a guitar player on at least two of the expeditions and the evening sing alongs instilled in me a lifelong passion for playing the guitars and singing folk songs. In fact in one of my songbooks there are several songs from one of the SHS songbooks cut out and stuck on (whoops, that makes me wonder if I snaffled a songbook?!)

Anyway, thanks for a wonderful site and for bringing back some really fantastic memories. I think I can honestly say that the SHS expeditions were some of the best experiences of my teenage years.

Nina (Avery)

Nina's photo of the 1980 SU campsite.

 

 

Coincidentally, I [Nick Smith - webmaster] revisited South Uist in 1980 with a friend in a camper van. We walked out to where I had stayed with the SHS in 1975 to take a look to see if anything had changed. It turns out I was there just a few days before Nina's expedition to the same site. My photo of the site is opposite, taken a few days before the camp was set up.