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60 MIN READ TIME

WHERE WE'RE GOING, WE DON'T NEED ROADS

WORDS AND PICTURES BY PETE SCULLION

Only the wake from the CalMac ferry bound for Skye disturbs the almost glass-like water and the sky above is just about cloudless as we enter Loch Nevis. A far cry indeed from the din and the dusty heat of the Fort William World Cup that came to its climax the previous afternoon. Even with a 350hp diesel lump under our feet urging the boat forward, the contrast between today and 12 hours before is hard to take in, knowing full well that many are driving hundreds of motorway miles back to offices. This is truly what summer’s days are made of. Cormorants make their low-level dashes across the mouth of this deep-sea loch as seals inquisitively poke their heads above the surface. En route, Billy, our guide and a gent clearly not one to have ever sat behind a desk, swings the boat around to investigate his lobster pots. A life at sea leaves him quite happy perched on the edge of the boat as he hauls the line and the pots off the seabed.

Mountain bike guiding and trawler fishing might not seem like good companions, but it’s Billy’s knowledge of the sea around Mallaig that allows him to offer something a little more unique than bikes thrown into a van or a trailer. You certainly can’t catch your dinner from a van. Decades spent at sea, navigating these deceptively treacherous waters the hard way at the business end of the fishing industry have given him knowledge you can’t buy. What this lifetime has also done is sculpt Billy into a man who could tear a Yellow Pages clean in twain. He complains his wife teases him for his skinny legs – I shy away, hoping not to have my own sparrow’s legs mocked. Billy left the peaks and troughs of the fishing industry as he felt it was consuming his life and he needed a new challenge.

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