The Loch Broom Expedition

"The Wild Lady of Lochbroom" Expedition is going ahead...

ON SATURDAY 26th of August we'll be attempting a 7-mile/11km swim down the length of Loch Broom in Scotland. If we're lucky we might be joined in the water by a curious porpoise or seal, as well as blooms of jellyfish. We'll hit the water early in the morning and swim with the tide. We're going to start at Ullapool and swim to the river mouth, close to a church at Clachan, which is symbollic to us because it's where we buried our Grandma Wild in March 2015.

She was 88.

Our Gran earned the nickname The Wild Lady for two reasons, the first being rather obviously that her maiden name was Wild, but the second being that she personified all that it means to truly be wild. It's not about bravado or recklessness, it's about being deeply and unequivocally connected to the natural world, immersed in the outdoors - something that cannot be controlled or caged by the modern world. She moved to the highlands in 1984 after the death of our Grandpa and, whilst I think she initially sought refuge on the hillsides around the lochs, I think she found peace and a haven we were lucky enough to experience for ourselves. She roamed the coppices hacking at bracken with her machette, chopping wood and fighting off the midges. She would tell ancient tales of Celtic Folklore and could beat us in an arm wrestle well into our teens. As we grew older every journey to see our Grandma Wild became a pilgrimage to reconnect with the natural word. I still get the feeling that I'm returning home, that the wild in the world is calling me onwards every time we turn off the road down the avenue of giant trees, past the mighty mountain called Tor and onwards to Lon Fiodhag, the house and haven we all grew to love.

Our Grandma was a true matriarch and a force of nature. She lived alone in the highlands for more than 30 years - far from any shop or semblance of civilisation.

We wanted to swim the loch in honour of her memory and everything she represents to us. Lots of our family members will be there as well and we're hoping that they'll jump in and swim the last stretch with us. The last mile of the swim is going to be invitational as well - Mum, Aunty Fiona and quite a few others will be joining us for that last bit. We know that Grandma would appreciate seeing a familial human flotilla ploughing through the waters she loved so much. When we make it down the loch and finish the swim we'll lay a wreath on grandma’s grave.

She has had a huge influence on me and has given me a deep love for the natural world. We would spend hours watching for porpoise in the loch or trying to catch a glimpse of a Golden Eagle. Our granny encompassed everything that we believe in. She wasn’t chasing anything. She was just quietly content with her place amongst the world.
— Calum Hudson

Afterwards we'll be heading to the Morefield in Ullapool (pictured above) - one of the best Seafood restaurants in the UK. Then it's likely we'll spend the evening drinking Whisky in Lexies (a renovated stone bothy above the house where grandma lived).

We will also be doing this swim to raise awareness for the Scottish Wildcat, which is the UK’s only indigenous cat, our last large mammal predator and one of the most elusive and untameable animals in the world, we'll be working in partnership with Scottish Wildcat Action and want to support the incredible work they do in protecting this beautiful and elusive animal, you can view their comprehensive Conservation Action Plan - here. Sadly the Tiger of the Highlands is critically endangered and it is estimated that fewer than 100 purebred Scottish Wildcats remain in the wild and this devastating mass extinction of one of the British Isles most fascinating and beautiful creatures is largely ignored by the media. Ancient, untameable and elusive, there is no other animal more deserving of our respect and we are bound by a duty to the natural world to protect it. The plight of the Scottish Wildcat epitomises the wider struggle of the natural world against the incessant and destructive desire of the human race to control, de-wild and garden the creatures with which we share this earth and we think our Gran would have been the first people to fight for it's survival.

They’ll fight to the death for their freedom; they epitomise what it takes to be truly free I think.
—  Mike Tomkies, The Wilderness Man

Read more about this upcoming expedition in the Scotsman.