In February, Le Chameau travelled to Ardnamurchan in the Scottish Highlands to meet the West Highland Hunting Team and to find out more about the extraordinary work they do to protect and preserve the land. Ardnamurchan, on the most westerly extremity of the Scottish Highlands, and in fact the British mainland, is a 50-square-mile peninsula halfway up the rugged west coast. Almost completely surrounded by water, the peninsula is completely unspoilt and undisturbed by man and is therefore home to a wide range of raptors and mammals rarely seen in other parts of the country. The land is managed year-round by the West Highland Hunting Team whose typical day is up to 12 hours on the hoof climbing steep hills and rough terrain and who are responsible for the maintenance and protection of the land and its' wildlife. The team, lead by Niall Rowantree, is kept busy throughout the year, from monitoring raptor nests and controlling foxes that are causing problems for sheep, to stalking deer in the autumn, then keeping them going and making sure that they are all right throughout the winter. "Our whole year is connected to the management of the land and wildlife, right through from planting trees to harvesting natural resources. We’re custodians of the land.” says Niall proudly. Living and working on the most westerly point of mainland Britain means they are constantly exposed to challenging conditions, as the topography is not only dramatic but the weather is wild year-round. “I meet a lot of people who come here to escape their day-to-day city life and want to experience what we do professionally,” adds Niall. “I defy anybody not to be moved by having eagles swirling overhead and wild red deer walking around you. If you see something super rare like a wild cat, it doesn’t just make your day, it can make your year." It is clear from the moment we meet Niall and the team, that they are passionate about what they do, explaining that for them, it's not a job but a lifestyle. The pride felt by the team is tangible. “People ask why we are the way we are. Because it goes in through the soles of your feet. It’s what you are. Most people, when they look at a wildlife programme, feel like they are looking through a window at something. You need to take a step back and actually become part of it.” Like Le Chameau’s master craftsmen, Niall and his team are certainly passionate about what they do. They put everything into it, heart and sole. To fully enjoy the video of our time spent with the team below, please watch with the sound on.
Le Chameau in the Field: Exploring Ardnamurchan
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