From the Cairn Ban Archives... 

Adventures of the Knights of Dessary

Ian Collinson, 10 December 2003

Team: Ian Collinson, Alan Forsyth, Kenny Lowe, Douglas Collinson, David Gray, Alex Haken,Andy Park, Richard Park

Picture the scene: glorious Friday afternoon with temperatures more akin to May or June than November, you've left work behind for the weekend, civilisation is left behind as you head up towards the shores of Loch Lomond.

ppppsssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhtttttttttttttt! Collinson 1 - Lowe 0

The Buachaille is majestic in the fading light with a plume of mist atop the summit.

‘psssssshhhhhhht’ 2 - 0.

The Factor's Inn at Torlundy provided a fine belly filling meal in a smoke free environment before the journey down the windy road on Loch Arkaig.


Clear skies and a full moon provided an uncannily illuminated track down through the Dessary forest to a' Chuill bothy. The mooonlit Chrome Domes of Collinson & Lowe offer further illumination. Head torches of Andy & Richard Park are noted as they pitch their tents in the driest part of the a'Chuil bogs. The Fabulous Park Boys have ignored the estate signs and cunningly mountain biked in... ’What Signs? It was dark!’.

The bothy is clean well maintained and welcoming and in a few moments a roaring fire is kindled which only splutters out amidst the snores and grunts in the wee small hours. Eucalyptus scented candles improve the ambience.

The Cairn Ban team arrive in within an hour of each other and are soon joined by a further party of 5 hardy and fun seeking souls. Alex Haken enjoyed his first club outing and provided a wheen of shortbread to soak up the alcohol. Chicken Tika bites also did the rounds along with some fine chocolate sponge cake.

Slowly but surely there unravelled as good and fun filled a bothy night as I've had in years as the jokes, tales, songs and Uisge Beatha flowed.

And flowed, and flowed... Red Wine, Beer, Rusty Nails, Bottle of Grouse, copious Glenmorangie, and a concerning Andy Park concoction described only as ‘mostly Glenlivit’ were continuously circled around the a'Chuil male voice choir. 


Bohemian Rhapsody, Flower of Scotland, Daydream believer, Caledonia, Thank You For The Music, Don't it make My Brown Eyes Blue, Chattanooga Choo Choo, Don't Stop Me Now, American Pie, Skye Boat Song, Mingulay Boat Song were amongst the many communally and voluminous ditties rendered. Some strange songs concerning fat northern English lasses who drink loadsa brown beer was introduced by a Geordie fellow from our fellow stravaigers was enjoyed even if he was ‘mooned’ for his troubles!

‘Sing, Sing, Or Show Us Yer Ring...’ he had been challenged...

Alan provided a fine solo rendition of something Irish sounding… only to be told later it was the full version of Waltzing Matilda.

One of the Stravaigers noticeably curled up in the corner cuddling his Grouse, refusing to let go as if his life depended on it. This fellow later known as ‘Sick Boy’ descended into a bit of a foetal position & stupor.

Eventually sleep overcame the morrasse around 1.30am. Some were noisy, some were not and Sick Boy made some horrendously concerning gurgling noises as he slept where had fallen in front of the fire. Crashing and banging circa 3am suggested someone had fallen off the sleeping platform.

Super keen Forsyth kicked the party awake and was keen to go, which could not said far all. Sick Boy was a definate casualty of war.

The party split 3 ways:-

  • Kenster Lowe bagged Sgur Mor and was crawling on hands and kness for a good part of the summit ridge to avoid being blown to Dingwall by the fearsome winds and saw not another soul all day.

  • David Gray bagged the Corbett opposite the bothy, watched us traverse the ridge and descended to make an excellent job of tidying, cleaning the bothy along with chopping a good amount of firewood for new guests.

  • The remainder of the gang coughed and spluttered and wretched their way up Sgur nan Coireachan at the summit of which a portable mini TV was produced just in time to see Chris Pattersons kick to draw Scotland level with Australia at half time. This gave the party renewed hope and determination to succeed. Forsyth sped across the ridges as if fuelled by kerosene, Collinson snr. crawled along the ridges regretting the Molotov cocktail fueled poisoning from the evenings celebrations… the old internal ‘never again’ debate etc etc.


Generally Alan Forsyth and Alex Haken demonstrated a worrying amount of fitness and pace across Garbh Chioch Mhor, the Park Boys and Douglas Collinson trotted along just behind and El P. hauled his weary carcass through the pain barrier some distance behind.

The views into Knoydart, Loch Hourn, Skye, Rhum, Eigg were magnificent and gave me my first clear view of Ladhar Bheinn and the spoils awaiting in deepest Knoydart.

The Park Boys took their leave at the Whistler before the final pull up to Sgur na Ciche, the summit of which was no place to hang about on as the strength of the wind was fiercer than a ‘mostly Glenlivit’ hangover... but only just! The Stravaigers were encountered but Sick Boy was no where to be seen.

A long trudge back to the bothy found the fresh faces of new arrivals, excitedly opening up bottles of port and Paddy whisky. Deja vu made me laugh whilst also reminding me how boaky I still felt. The newcomers were a polite cozy cheery looking foursome of two couples. Oh, how I bet they would have preferred to arrived a night earlier... not!

Personally the jouney back to the road end was even more mind over matter than the ridge had been. Happy banter was heard from the others clearly still enjoying a hail and hearty experience.

Another successful outing to some of the more remote regions was toasted with a pint and a curry at the Northern India Curry House, Fort William. Admittedly, I had a cup of tea.

Reports back suggest that Foryth kept himself awake on the homeward journey by driving over the cats eyes. Lowe and Collinson were both asleep and Kenny's car made it home by following Ley lines and/or Divine Intervention.

This weekend also saw the introduction of the Fabulous Park Boys and Alex Haken to their first Cairn Ban outing and it is hoped they join up for more Cairn Ban thrills and spills.

Gentlemen, this was an excellent mission to add to a fine collection so far this year - Cairngorms, Mullardoch, Affric, Strathcarron, Dessary... a fine list to date!

Watch out for up and coming dates for future excursions into Oblivion and meanwhile all members should make the most of our Sunday Day Trips next of which is this Sunday 16th November.

Excellent boys, most excellent!