Strawberry Cottage

Fancy A Bite?

This multi-generational account by Midge “Jo” Affric and her offspring describes an IMC meet to Strawberry Cottage in Glen Affric, shown above; it’s still a favourite meet, but perhaps more so outside the midgie season.

Things were just quietening down in the Glen Affric car park- we’d had a busy day of chasing tourists, cyclists and walkers and got all of them moving quickly, scratching and swearing within a few minutes. The IMC descended as we were thinking about turning in. It was just what we needed – a late night snack to see us through the final few hours. A last supper, you might say, with ample opportunity for entertainment.

We managed to get Pik Chun jigging around as soon as she got out of her car. This allowed the brilliant tactical manoeuvre of getting an intrigued Peter Reynolds to wind down his car window to ask her what on earth was going on, allowing us to get into the car and feast on all four occupants. Yummy. Unfortunately this alerted the rest of the group and they hastily threw themselves and their gear into the two cars which were allowed to drive along the private track to Strawberry Cottage, some 6km west of there. This left us with a paltry three humans to attack. We told our young children to seek out the IMC the next morning, and we settled down for our long sleep.

Our parents (sadly departed) had told us where to find food for the day, and we duly had the hut surrounded by 9am. To our horror we found the place deserted and everyone heading up the hills in the bright sunshine. We alerted the High Level Attack Squad who were stationed at various points along the north ridge, from Mullach na Dheiragain to Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan, and even between Mam Sodhail and Ben Ula. But the pickings weren’t great. Those eager IMC members, all 14 of them, just kept on going and split into lots of smaller groups all going their different ways. Jim Convery had even headed southwards from the hut. Our Squads were considerably spread out, making it extra difficult for us, but to be honest we weren’t really all that bothered. It was just too hot and sunny for dive bombing and exploring in people’s socks, crawling through their hair and trying to squeeze under watch straps. Someone must have done OK that day though, as I overhead Jo Kinghorn calculating that the club amassed 45 ‘ticks’ that day. Lucky things!

Culicoides impunctatus is our Latin name, but in Scots we’re known as midgies

That evening was a loss too. The swimmers in the river were protected by a light breeze, the hut door was firmly shut and all we could do was hang around outside the window looking in at platefuls of pasta and sauce, bottles of wine, port and malts being consumed. When only ‘Old Inverness’ whisky was left we decided that was enough, and hung around the tent hoping its occupants would arrive shortly. They didn’t, and there wasn’t even the hope of an outside toilet to ambush.

Our parents and our parent’s parents had passed on tales of the Great Friday Night Feast, and Sunday morning dawned bright for us, the new generation. Our hopes were high. We started off by a gentle exploration of some navy thermals hanging outside the tent (dark colours are so attractive) hoping to get some decent breakfast, but unfortunately the occupants were out of there and into the hut so fast that only a few of us got some grub. Then the club scattered all over the place; walking, biking, sunbathing with a breeze. Ewen Macniven resorted to whizzing about on his new mountain bike to further increase the wind, and he had added overnight protection with his ‘whoopee’ mattress in the hut. We managed to get a few of them as they walked out – along the lochside, or on the high level route via Tom a’Choinich. There were also quite a few day visitors venturing out so we didn’t do too badly after all, despite the hot sunny weather.

A final word on behalf of all the many generations of midgies in Scotland, not just Glen Affric: congratulations on your 50”’ Anniversary, and keep on coming up the hills, we need you!