A Trust Member describes a close encounter on the banks of a Knoydart lochan in early summer.
On hill-bagging trips I like to go backpacking for several days, travelling from hill to hill through wild and remote country. During one such trip I was in Knoydart on a sunny early summer’s afternoon, walking eastwards up Glen Barrisdale.
It was a magnificent walk; the path climbed steadily up the glen for mile after mile, twisting and turning between the big hills on either side, their rocky slopes showing in crystal clarity in the afternoon sun. Eventually I came to a delightful lochan, tucked in between the path and the hills, and set up camp for the night.
I cooked up the first course of dinner and as the day was still warm I went to sit on a grassy bank by the lochside to eat. It was a very low bank so I was sitting quite hunched up and I was still wearing a sun hat, so not very obvious to passers-by.
Suddenly there was a great splashing of water further along the lochan. At first I thought someone had come by with a large dog, but then I saw that it was a young stag that had run into the lochan.
I sat very still and watched as the stag waded into the lochan up to its knees. It then stopped and had a bit of a snuffle and scratch at its flank. After a while it turned and saw me sitting low on the bank. It slowly came towards me until I could gaze straight into its eyes; it was so close that I could see the moisture glistening on its muzzle. I swear that it had an expression of curiosity and friendliness.
When it was about ten yards from me I began to wonder how this was going to end. Being a young stag, each antler was a single straight tine, about a foot long and very sharp at the end; I could be in trouble if the animal turned aggressive.
I moved very slightly. A startled look came into the stag’s eyes. It stared at me for about a minute then turned tail, ran out of the water and away up the hillside. I felt very privileged to have come so close to such a beautiful wild animal.