Isle of Lewis Trip
A Lairds foray to the Hebrides
We've been busy of late!
The Shotgun Chef, William Aldis, carelessly invited the Lairds team to spend some time with him at his sporting lodge in the Hebrides.
A few weeks back at Team Lairds and some of our friends spent a week on the Isle of Lewis as guests of The Shotgun Chef, William Aldis. Our intention...bother salmon, chase grouse, stalk deer and try some amazing food.
The journey to Lewis is a long one. Opting for an overnight drive three of us drove for 10 hours to Ullapool ferry port. Stopping numerous times for sustinance in the form or "cheap" overpriced burgers and chips and to spend a pound to spend a penny...God love service stations.
After a 2.5 hour ferry jouney we finally arrived on the island and at the lodge, greeted by a health glass of red wine and venison fillet for dinner.
The Isle of lewis is a known for its huge (and growing) population of Greylag Geese. They are now a notorious pest on the island, eating their way through the grass of the crofts and what little their is of crop fields. We were only too happy to help thin the numbers down.
Whilst all of us have shot geese before, is is still a special thing to hear geese calling at first light and watch the early skeins make their way to feed. We set up on a potatoe field and waited...but not for long. The first geese came into the decoys and were swiftly dealt with. I normally shoot Hull Cartridge for all my shooting, thought id give the new Cheddite Steel a whirl. At around £7.00 per 25 they are a good clean steel cartridge. Killing geese at range and most importantly cleanly.
The flight wasnt a particuarily long one but it was enough for eveyone to get a goose of two and build up an appetite for a full Scottish Breakfast!
Whilst I did not venture out myself in pursuit of red deer, two fo the party did. The island has a healthy population of red deer. The terrain although harsh offers some of the most breathtaking scenery in which to stalk. Woodcock and Snipe Ambassador John managed to shoot his first red hind with John Bean managing to shoot his first ever deer. A successful trip I think.
On Tuesday, we were invited to spend the night in one of the neighbouring estate lodges. A 3 hour hike into the heart of the ground in pursuit of Grouse. This was a tough but thoroughly enjoyable part of the week. 11 miles from the nearest people and surrounded by stunning scenery and most impressive of all was the volume of rutting stags. Whilst we were not stalking stags (they were out of season) we took immense pleasure stalking into the beasts to take some photos. G&T in a plastic bottle and camera in hand we got pretty close to one stag in particular. We spent the next hour watching, drink and taking pictures. It was also a full moon so managed to get some awesome shots.
Making our way back in the dark, we settled down for dinner of Grouse (shot on the walk in) and a healthy measure of whisky...topped off with a fine cuban cigar from my very own Cigar Cart non the less. We went long into the night, exchanging stories, drinking whisky and listening to the crack of the fire and the stags outside roaring away!. NOW THAT WAS HEAVEN!!
Being very new to fishing in general it is safe to say i am no expert. I can cast reasonably compitently and I am yet to hook myself...touch wood!!
I ventured up to Lewis for my first time on Salmon this year on the opening week of the Salmon season. The rivers are not large like on the mainland but still offer great sport. My failure to catch on my last trip up i had a score to settle with these little buggers so was determined to change my luck...that didnt happen!
The wind would pick up the line making controlling it near impossible the rain beat down on us making it uncomfortable but despite all of this, without wanting to sounch cliche, I am still hooked on fishing! and woudl strongly urge any beginners to consider taking up the sport and visiting the island for fishing.
Despite non fish, our walk back to the car did bring with it evidence of fish as we watched 3 or 4 small sea trout run a small stream that crossed the path.
The end of week dinner!
The week ended on a high with a black tie dinner and superb food and wine. A celebration of the game, the food and the laughs we had all had. Set in Soval House Lodge, it was how I imagine a victoria sporting break to the highlands would have been.
I would highly reccomend a trip to the Hebredes. The scenery is incredible and the sport to match.
If you would like to visit Soval House and experience the Shotgun Chef week then please contact
William Aldis via The Shotgun Chef or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
The only sad thing is that we just missed out on the northern lights days before we arrived!