The Photography of Mike O'Neill ABIPP

Stalking The Ghurkhas

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Just before last Christmas I found myself facing a gargantuan road trip of epic proportions.  I was to travel to Lairg in Scotland to photograph a team of Nepalise Snipers from 1 Royal Ghurka Rifles who had been invited Deerstalking with a veiw to a published article in Shooting Times.

What an assignment! I thought to myself as I tried to get transport sorted and checked the routemap.  It would take around six hours to get to Lairg, however I could not reach the group by Telephone and no one had any further details as to where these guys were staying.  It shouldt be too hard to find Ghurkas in the Highlands surely?

In addition to this the new reports were full of woe to anyone contemplating driving:  “Dont go unless absolutley!” neccessary they said.  I was not deterred from my task, the mental picture of Ghurkhas in white ghillie suits with sniper rifles was driving me, it will be a great shot.  I just have to get there….

When I set off at 6pm I had no idea what was in front of me.  The journey was fine albeit for a couple of overturned lorries although I did get caught in a blizzard as I came down off the Cairngorms.  I arrived in Lairg after 2am, I parked in a car park by the Spar shop on the shore of Loch Shin.  I got my sleeping bag out and got my head down.

Waking up at first light my first stop was the Spar.  “Seen any Ghurkas?” I asked the bewildered staff, obviously not used to a uniformed soldier in these parts.  No was the answer so I carried on.  A postal sorting office in mid flow provided me with an answer to try the Duke of Edinburgh’s Ranger Lodge and they gave me directions.

An hour later I was there with the rangers and a hotel telephone number in my hand.  I tried repeatedly throughout my broken communications to reach the Ghurka team but it was all in vain.  The hotel proprieter informed “They left this morning!”.

Gutted.  A word that can only describe my dissappointment at the failed task, however as I looked around the stunning scenery I realised I probably would never have come were it not for the tasking.  It truly is a beautiful place, maybe Ill go back.

It turns out the Ghurkas have indeed been invited back to shoot again, and they have invited me to go with them…

Next time they can pick me up en route.

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