When I first came up with the idea of the TALES section of the site, I thought of it as a place where I’d share my own stories; key moments in my life that were linked to the outdoors. It would be a journal for me and eventually for my children but one that I hoped might bring some solace to others. Sometimes, plans change and ideas evolve. There are some tales that are so humbling that they need to be shared and I felt that this was one of those.
Last year, I got an email asking to help find locations and local people for a pilot in Snowdonia. Rufus Exton and Steve Bliss were shooting an adventure documentary that took in the different parts of the UK, encouraging people to literally head for the hills at the end of the working week.
There was a real focus on the human element and a genuine desire to share the stories and lives of those who resided out in the wilds. Their first port of call was Scotland and Rufus sent me a copy of the first episode. It was honest, thoughtful and refreshingly different. When things didn’t go to plan such as getting lost or crashing the drone, these bits weren’t confined to the cutting room floor but were featured and celebrated. In the film we meet Alasdair Macleod, a gentle fisherman who is warm, honest and utterly engaging in sharing his outlook on life. As enchanting as the landscape is in this film, the real beauty comes from the impression Alasdair leaves on Rufus and Steve and the time-served wisdom he shares with them.
A couple of days ago, I heard from Rufus. These are his words.
In April last year Steve Bliss and I spent a week in the Highlands filming what we hoped would be the pilot for an online adventure show set in the UK. A film that would showcase the wilds of this country and the great people who live and work in the places that we spend our weekends running away to.
It was never aimed at your hardened Bear Grylls fan, instead we wanted to offer something achievable to the casual camper, the city dweller who yearns to cut loose and head for the hills, albeit only for the weekend. The person who camps once a year at festivals but wants to get out more often.
Sadly this first episode had a tragic twist. Alasdair, the fisherman who took us under his wing, passed away late last year in a fishing accident. We immediately shelved the project but after speaking to his family we have decided to publish our film in the hope that it spreads his name a little further than the Highlands where he was a well known figure. As he himself wrote in his blog about the death of local man “we keep these people with us, by telling and retelling their stories.”
Please bear in mind that the film was completed long before Alasdair’s accident and so tonally it may feel at odds with the severity of his situation. Although we wanted to touch on serious messages around the power of nature and solitude and the harshness of these environments, we always wanted these films to be about the fun of getting out of your comfort zone, dicking around in nature and having a laugh with old and new friends. It was always meant to be flippant and fun, whereas now, for me, it will always be a stark reminder of the daily dangers faced by people living and working these areas.
Thank you Ali, Scotland could not have asked for a better ambassador, generous in time, knowledge and langoustine. We never got round to thanking you properly – ‘Send Alasdair a thank you gift’ was on my To Do list until it was too late. Sorry.
The film can be viewed here :
You can read Alasdair’s blog here :
Read my other Tales from the Outside here.