Read an exclusive piece by Ian 'Spike' Sykes, author of 'In the Shadow of Ben Nevis', about what it was like revisiting the Coruisk hut with Coldhouse Collective for the first episode in the PERTEX® Elemental Journeys series.
'It was raining as the boat left Elgol and sailed up Loch Scavaig to the beautiful hidden harbour of Loch na Cuilce at its head, right in the heart of the Cuillin Mountains of Skye. Nothing strange about this, it had been raining in the Highlands all summer.
It had been a few years since I was last here but nothing had changed much. Mountains rising steeply into the mist and a vast amount of steep black rock with Coruisk JMCS hut standing white and tiny with its back against a giant gabbro cliff.
I hobbled and splashed the 50 yards to the hut. The Coldhouse crew were already filming. “This can’t be much good,” I thought, looking at the leaden streaming sky, but nobody seemed to mind.“This is exactly what we want,” Matt Pycroft said, peering into his camera. “Atmosphere!” Well there was plenty of that!
The hut hadn’t changed much either. The first time I had been here was 55 years ago under very different circumstances. During New Year, 1962, whilst working as a young 'erk' in the RAF I had been involved in a call-out to retrieve three climbers who had taken a fatal fall on The Dubhs, the beautiful mountain right behind the hut. That night it had been a miserable place of sadness for the small party of people waiting here in anguish for news.
This time it was different, the hut was spic and span and by the time I arrived Emma had a brew on the boil and Matt H and Ryan were already sorting out the cameras and filmmaking stuff.
I had been involved in a number of film shoots over the years but this was a bit different.
I felt a bit like an old bodger at first. I was still on crutches after a knee operation but the crew put me at ease and I gained a few ‘brownie’ points when I pulled a litre bottle of Bell’s out of my rucksack. An evening of merriment ensued and it felt as though we had known each other for years as we made our bed for the night in the hut.
Day two had its moments as well, the rain was pouring down in buckets when out of the mirk appeared a bride in a full , if somewhat bedraggled wedding dress with a rather sheepish groom. They’d wanted somewhere different to get married and this was certainly it! Filming ceased for a while and we broke out the Bell’s to celebrate.
That evening I discovered that the entire team were tone deaf as they listened eagerly to my crap banjo playing and actually asked for more, and then, blimey, they filmed it! By now I was getting right into this and basking in the game of being a film star.
The weather bucked up and the boys were filming using a drone. I’d never seen this done before but the footage they were getting of the Skye ridge was absolutely spectacular. This was our last day and I didnot want to leave. We sailed out into Loch Scavaig, the drone buzzing
around the boat still filming us with the spectacular silhouette of the Cuillin Ridge in the background.
So, I guess that’s the easy bit done. Coldhouse Collective have still to film Finlay Wild running along the ridge and all that, and then there’s the painstaking work of editing the miles of film taken. I know the huge effort that has gone into the making of this film and that ‘Cúchulainn’ will give an amazing and real picture of Skye in all its many moods.'
Written by Ian 'Spike' Sykes exclusively for Coldhouse Collective.