Highland March II
This year's Highland March, the second of what is bound to be an annual occurrence for many years to come took place between the 8th and the 15th May. This page reports on the undertaking and provided links to the related photo albums and video clips. The journey between Cumbernauld and Inverness is chronicled by Steve Taylor aka Interthenet ( ITN for short).
The marchers met up with the MOB and other supporters at the Broadwood Farm for a jar or two before the crunch game with Clyde on Saturday 8th May 2004.
Before the start of the game the matchers were allowed to march along the pitch in front of the Caley Jags support where they were greeted with enthusiastic cheers.
They started the march after the game had finished and after they took time out in the heavy downpour for a final photo shoot with reporters prior to the start of the journey.
By the end of Monday they had completed the first 57 miles. Caley Fifer joined them for part of the day and took some photos and video clips of the walkers. All retired to the Kenmore Hotel for a couple of hours before heading off to the evenings accommodation.
In the Kenmore Hotel Canary was joined with his brother, sister, nephew as well as his father. It was Canary Dad's birthday so all shared in the birthday cake before posing for some more photographs.
The walkers have been left with a CamCorder by the BBC to use for a video diary. This will be collected by the BBC on Thursday. The BBC will also do some filming of the later stages of the walk. The video should be broadcast about lunchtime on Saturday.
Highland March II Photo Albums
DAY 1 Saturday 8th May 2004
Broadwood Stadium to Stirling.
Quite apart from the fact that the result was probably the finest since the 3-1 at Parkhead, the big black cloud that rolled in from Broadwood with 10 minutes to go threatened to ruin our day. A fish supper in the Kilsyth was rapidly followed by incessant pissing rain and the final ten miles to Stirling where... how shall I put it?... miserable. Once we'd checked into the bunkhouse in the middle of town around half ten, Canary found himself on top bunk but perfectly positioned to advise Gringo Junior of the 16 year old cleavage two floors below out on the street!
DAY 2 Sunday 9th May 2004
Stirling to Crieff.
(the hill above Stirling University). The Highland March Flag flew proudly from the cairn when another walker approached the summit in the thick mist..."Are you Clyde?", says ITN, "'cos if you are, I'll have to kill you."
The rest of the highland army meanwhile set off to take Sheriffmuir and were ???? to 'taken by the rear' by two Dunblane based ICT fans who'd set off in their motor in the hope of finding the army. Lunchtime was inevitably liquid in Greenloaning after which the day, the scenery and the route went rapidly downhill. That General Wade bloke has got a lot to answer for... feckin straight roads that you can see going on for miles and miles... with traffic. The day ended in Crieff, the bunkhouse in Comrie was top, The fish and chips were ditto and the Really Nasty Horse Racing Game game got underway.
DAY 3 Monday 10th May 2004
Crieff to Kenmore.
The sun was splitting the sky when Jnr let rip at 6am and woke the rest of the bunk room. With the forecast predicting thundery showers by late afternoon, we made an early start at 8am. The early miles were simply the best of either of the highland marches to date... on road... off road.. on road... off road... yomping through the heather...magic!... and then there was Sma Glen - best described as the undiscovered Glencoe! By two o'clock we only had five miles to go but the route to Kenmore had a 700 ft climb, a 1200 ft descent and a feckin great thunderstorm in the way.... time for a sharp exit onto the bus with the Gringos and the Canary getting rid of the their lightning conductors and as fast as Liam can find the back of the Broadwood net. Anyway by four o'clock we were all soaked and enjoying the hospitality of the Kenmore Hotel.
Top block today - Caley Fifer - there we were, walking along by Loch Freuchie when this black motor goes by with a red and blue scarf hanging out of the window. "Rangers?" says ITN.... thirty seconds later the motor stops and out steps the great man. Top marks mate!
Fifer left us in Kenmore when we legged it up the road to Pitlochry for our latest backpacker extravaganza. The Backpacker Hostel was the only joint that demanded full payment up front when we booked the accommodation back in September so it was only natural that they had no record of the booking and demanded payment all over again. Anyway, an hour of hassle, phone calls and customer service ended with Visa card telling the burd on reception that had indeed taken the dosh so they gave us free use of towels for our trouble. Canary went for some scran with his folks from Aberdeen at the posh restaurant next door and the rest of us almost followed him until he waved us away from his window seat. We all thought he was telling us to feck off whereas in fact he was relieving us of some God-awful service. Cheers mate. The evening ended with Junior and ITN on the pool table in the hostel after the rest had turned in, with porn on the telly. I thought at first that the young 'un had taken an asthma attack..... LOL.
DAY 4 Tuesday 11th May 2004
Kenmore to foot of Drumotcher.
The ITN bacon brekky master plan almost backfired when the van turned up at Ballanluig at ten past seven . We'd reckoned on the truckstop being open for the big fry up but to our horror (on arrival) discovered that it opens at eight. Feck that.... off to Aberfeldy since we'd to go through there anyway, and Colin spotted a wee baker's shop open... there went the entire supply of bacon rolls in a one-er.
Back to Kenmore for the 8 o'clock kick off and we set about the first of the trois hills of the day. This leg reminded me of one of those Alpine stages in the Tour De France. Next time you're thumbing through a map of Scotland , have a look at the road from Kenmore to Dalnacardoch via Tummel Bridge and Trinafour. Scenic as feck but as hilly as it too. There's an 800ft climb out of Kenmore up towards Schehallion (the mountain that we were unable to leave behind, even the next day.) then a big drop down into Tummel Bridge before guess what, another 700ft climb out on the Trinafour road. Colin had gone ahead to reccy the pub life and returned with bad news.. No beer. At half twelve, Junior and ITN sat by the stream waiting on the others and when they arrived, we piled into the bus and made for the local at Struan, which, rather ironically had just re-opened after renovation and we were its first customers!
With a couple of beers in the belly, it was back to Trinafour for the final 800ft climb and the final descent to Dalnarcardoch Lodge and a triple ambush. first ITN on Junior from a ditch (complete with hand grenades and a bazooka), then Junior and ITN on Colin and Mrs G in the bus (swords this time) then the mother of all ambushes on Gringo and Canary at the completion of their day's work (Colin, suitably armed with the BBC daily diary camera, caught all of this on film by the way.).
We spent Tuesday night up the road in the bunkhouse at Laggan Bridge . None of us had ever been there before but it's a top place. We gave the pub a miss in order to play The Really Nasty Horse Racing Game (in which ITN won £800K - na na na na na) after the pasta and meatball house special.
DAY 5 Wednesday 12th May 2004
Foot of Drumotcher throught the Pass of Glen Tromie.
This was to just about everyone's favourite day. The Gaick Pass / Pass of Glen Tromie , call it what you like. You just HAVE to walk this once in your life on a day as gorgeous as the one we had. Peter Watt from BBC Scotland joined us for the first hour, taking footage for use in Reporting Scotland and Lunchtime Sportscene. The 'exposure' threw up gems such as 'The Grand Old SPL' and Gringo's map reading skills but the best was saved for last when ITN went for a leak, not realising that the camera was still rolling. Tears all round..
The scenery in the Glen is quite breathtaking. The wooded track from the south soon opens out into wonderful countryside, with views of our old friend Schehallion to the distant south west. Gringo had been worried for weeks that were were going to get our feet wet (in very much the same way as Uncle Albert had been predicting the previous year) in the river crossings but in the event the dry spring came to our rescue. There were half a dozen crossings to make but none was of the ferocious 'past yer knees' variety and I think in the end, both Gringo and Canary took their boots off more for a wee paddle than anything else. Special mention must be made of the Canary on this particular day. ITN and Junior G carried the flag all morning when it wasn't quite so warm but the Golden one carried it all afternoon.
Wednesday was also the first day in which we felt that we were in the Highlands . Colin was doing a smashing job of keeping MFR up to speed while we were off-signal mobilewise and when we'd finished the leg, just supping a wee mineral water at the roadside (not.), a minibus from the Kincraig outward bound center stopped by. "Are you the Highland Marchers" asked the driver. "We are indeed. Fame at last.
Quite apart from the scenery, this was the day that Canary got sunburnt and had to carry the flag and we fleeced Tom Baker, Dr Who, for a tenner in the pub in Newtonmore. It was also the night that Junior established himself as a real threat on the pool table and the combatants ended the night all square at 6-6.
A report on the marchers appeared in the Cumbernauld News and Kilsyth Chronicle today. Click on image below for a larger, readable version.
DAY 6 Thursday 13th May 2004
Drumguish (top end of the Pass) to Aviemore.
Thursday was the first day of 'The Big Breakfast'.. If ever you're passing by Newtonmore early doors, stop by the truckers foodstop on the road out of town at the southern end. Double everything with all the toast you can eat for under four quid. A bargain especially if, like us, you're planning to storm Ruthven Barracks before 8am . With the boys firmly back in the barracks (to quote Alan Partridge), we set off from the top end of the Glen Tromie track near Drumguish for the stroll into Aviemore along the wee B road. Ten miles up the road a bloke stops, jumps out of his motor and says "hey, this is great" to JG and ITN who were flag bearers at the time. I work for Inverness Medical and this will make great PR. Photo opportunity...
The Canary was struggling by this time. This was the leg (excuse the pun) that did for him last year and it was down to the encouragement and support of both Colin and Papa Gringo that the Golden Burd made it to the Winking Owl for lunch. Earlier in the week, ITN had been doing the MFR link-ups and the guys back in his office in Glasgow had been tuning in over the net. For the Thursday link-up, we'd been challenged to get 'hippopotamus' into the conversation for an extra ten quid in the kitty; well Canary did the interview, the presenter was well primed and we got eight 'ker-chings' from him as the Golden One waxed lyrical about there being no hippopotamae in Glen Tromie. Top stuff.
There was more excitement over lunch when first of all some of ITN's distant relatives arrived from Englandshire to join us for the rest of the week, then a film crew from Grampian arrived for a photoshoot. It was somehow poetic justice that the BBC, who'd been with us on and off all week, should get the Gaick Pass whilst Grampian had to make do with Aviemore High St . Anyway, by the afternoon and the walk alongside the Strathspey railway, our numbers had swollen to eight walkers. Getting exicting now...
We spent Thursday night in the Aviemore bunkhouse which had a kind of 'Prisoner, Cell Block H' feel about it. Cold breezeblock walls, steel framed bunk beds and everyone in a room you could hardly swing a cat in. Not to worry, we had a great eye-level view of the main line which kept Gringo happy until it was time to hobble next door to the 'Old Bridge Inn'. The only good things you could say about 'TOBI' are that it had proper ale and internet access (where everyone was madly changing theire crowd prediction for Saturday, quite apart from scratching around the site to see what Caley Fifer had managed to get uploaded). Quite apart from the fact that he can't read my writing, he's a top block (sic). While we were in there, we made the mistake of eating in.. Big plates and little food, you know the script. Gringo complained. Pity he didn't complain about the fat crooner on the guitar as well. What a waste of space he was.Not to worry, you live and learn; we won't be going back there in a hurry.
DAY 7 Friday 14th May 2004
Aviemore to Tomatin.
Not the warmest of starts but we knew it wouldn't take long to get out of Carrbridge, over Slocht and down into Tomatin. Whilst approaching the village, a car buzzed the Army a couple of times before it stopped and a lady got out. "Are you the Highland Marchers"? "Aye..". "I work at the primary school which is half a mile up the road. Would you mind if we brought the children out to see you pass through the village"? Photo opportunity. We were a little early arriving at the Tomatin Inn and had to drink the remainder of the beer supply on the bus [there wasn't much left, honest guv] before the pub opened. Whilst in there, we got a call from the P&J requesting a photoshoot for Saturday's paper. "Just come on up boys, you'll find us in the pub". Friday was GJ's day on the pool table. He'd been threatening to storm the HM Championship all week and over a liquid lunch, ITN could do nothing right whilst the night porter could do no wrong. Four frames in a row handed the 2004 title to the young gun on a 10-6 verdict. Well played that man.
After lunch, the P&J boys had us hunting high and low for a roadside on the A9 that showed how far it was to Inverness . We already knew of course. It was just around the next bend, and the one after that, and the one after that.; crikey that Friday afternoon seemed to go on for hours and hours without us actually seeing Daviot Church . Thank feck we eventually did. Anyway, the boys eventually got their picture and of course history will show that we made the front page the next day.
We stayed the Friday night at the quaint old Carrbridge bunkhouse. Bronson and Uncle Albert will remember this place from last year but Gringo was gobsmacked. The old Mexican lookalike just couldn't get over this ranch from the wild west slap bang in the middle of the Scottish Highlands. After an eternal number of showers (and Fifer re-joining us), we piled into the bus (and his motor) and legged it down to the Cairn Hotel for food, beer and Reporting Scotland. The late-showerers watched RS in the bunkhouse (which was just as well because we had to make do with sub-titles in the pub) so the rousing rendition of "Where's the Wig, Where's the Wig, Where's the Wig, Where's the Wig..." had to be seen to be believed when the Balden Eagle hobbled into the bar. A top night was had by all and thank you Fifer for capturing it all on film. I could make reference to a farting competition at this point but as this is a family site, that particular story has been put aside for another time and another place.
DAY 8 Saturday 15th May 2004
Tomatin to Caledonian Stadium via the Innes Bar.
What can you say about Saturday? Every one of us knew it was going to be something special and by eck, it didn't disappoint. P&J early doors at the local shop; even the newsagent knew who we were. The lovely Lyndsay from MFR was waiting for us in the Little Chef at Tomatin where, without exception, everyone and his dog went Olympic Breakfast crazy (pity they ripped us off therefore, for extra 'free' coffee, on a technicality because they'd taken our original cups away; "Little Chef, yer having a laugh.").
Saturday's walk was always going to be a proverbial piece of piss, given the fact that we'd walked to Daviot on the Friday. Nonetheless, we still had to conquer Daviot Wood and whatever ambushes it had to offer... LOL. By half eleven we were over the top and to quote the old Jim Reeves classic. "I hear the sound of distant drums". We'd made it. Forget the fact that we couldn't actually see the stadium yet; we were about to be re-united with the BENI boys. A top moment indeed.
So on down the hill to Dow's Diner, a wee refreshment, loads more supporters and time to count down the clock to half twelve for the march across the city. FANTASTIC. Quite literally. Car horns blowing, people hanging out of windows waving, MFR buckets jingling and getting heavier by the minute. and did we make a racket! Drums, horns and singing. this was indeed a special experience. having the legal right to make a right good racket in support of the team (with about fifty in tow by this time), all in the good name of Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
We got the Innes at the back of one and it was already packed. It was quite humbling to go in there and see so many old faces at the end of such a titantic week. Bronson and Uncle Albert, who of course had been with us last year, Colin was there, the Mob in it's entirety, this was just a surreal experience. Come half one and an orange juice later, it was time to set off again on the last mile, accompanied by a piper, live on MFR. It's hard to put into words how each of us felt as we marched at the front of that column of bodies along the harbour road, but I think we realised just what we'd achieved, and what it meant to the people of Inverness when a car drew up as we approached the Kessock Bridge and out stepped Ken Mackie, Les Kidger and a couple of other Directors. On this day, arguably the most important day in the club's short history, they'd taken time out to come and see us. Top blokes. The top table walked with us the last 200 yards to the stadium where we were ushered into a reception room for champagne. I remember thinking at the time "crikey, I hope we're not the only people who're going to be drinking this here today".. I needn't have worried. Les advised us of the timetable. at eight minutes to three, we'd be piped up the tunnel and we had exactly five minutes to get around the track. To be perfectly honest, I don't remember how long it took but I do recall being tuned in to Radio Scotland, who were covering the game live and they actually mentioned the Highland Marchers as they went off to Brechin where there'd been a goal before we even kicked off.
What followed between three o'clock and half five was a fitting way to end a great day and a great week. There will be other Highland Marches and each will throw up its own characters and experiences but HM2 will go down as the greatest Highland March of them all. Thank you to each and every one of you..
Start of the march outside Broadwood stadium. Final photos before the start of the journey. [Video A (4MB)]
In the hills to the south of Kenmore, by Loch Freuchie. [Video B (2.6MB)]
ITN running from the rain (and thunder) on Craig Hill, on the decent to Kenmore. [Video C (4.2MB)]
A few miles further on and still running on arrival at Kenmore! [Video D (3.2MB)]
Battle of Kenmore re-enactment, a bloody sword fight! [Video E (1.2MB)]
Where's the wig? A powerful anthem, inspired by the colourful wig Canary sported on the march on the march.[Video F (3.1MB)]
Gringo speaks... ITN hoots! Caley Fifer aborts his first attempt at a video interview. [Video G (2.9MB)]
The final decent, into Inverness, on the old Edinburgh road by Druid Temple Farm. [Video H (6.9MB)]
After a refreshment stop at Dow's the march is joined by a group of local supporters and heads off into the town centre. [Video I (4.2MB)]
The final stop before the stadium, a favourite with the local supporters, is the Innes Bar. Bronson and Colin pose for a photo with the marchers. [Video J (4.3MB)]
The sound of bagpipes announce the arrival of the marchers at Caley Stadium and the end of the journey. [Video K (4.4MB)]
Minutes before the game begins the marchers do a lap of honour around the football pitch accompanied by the piper. [Video L (4.1MB)]