Gateshead Mencap Society

Our Haggis Hunt
by ace reporter Ivan Inkling

We had a fabulous time on our haggis hunt last July. Andy Mann drove the bus all the way to Ochaye Thinoo. He played Jimmy Shand records for the entire journey so we were all fluent in Scottish by the time we got there.

The luxurious Swinging Kilt Hotel was our abode for the weekend. We had a delicious breakfast of salty porridge and cullen skink before setting out on our hunt. Willie Eckaslike asked the hotel manager where the best place to hunt haggis was but he wouldn't say as it's a well kept secret.
Luke Bothwase led the group as we set off into the woods. It wasn't long before Tess Coe spotted what looked like a haggis's nest. Andy Mann put down some bait to try to lure them out. Haggis are very shy creatures and after waiting for an hour we decided to move on. Just then we were surprised by a rustling noise. We were all excited to see our first haggis. Sadly it was not to be. The sound we heard was from a Lesser Striped Sporran. Avery Niceman told us we were not allowed to catch it as the sporran hunting season didn't start for another two weeks.

We moved further into the forest but there wasn't a haggis in sight. In a short while we stumbled upon a picnic area. We were all a bit hungry so we sat round the picnic table and took out our packed lunches.

Wendy Winblows opened a large packet of ginger snaps and offered them to us all. We were about to tuck in when a hoard of little creatures shot out of the woods and promptly snatched all the ginger snaps then quickly disappeared back into the woods again. Luke Bothwase explained that they were a particular species of haggis and not the nice fluffy ones we were expecting. They were not very friendly and had sharp claws and teeth. It turned out that they find the smell of ginger irresistible and can't get enough of it.

Luke Bothwase had an idea. Wendy had a few bits of broken ginger snap left so Luke took them to the edge of the woods and asked Tim Bucktoo to wait with a net. Sure enough out came a haggis and stared to nibble the biscuits. Tim quickly lowered the net but alas not fast enough. The haggis was off like a rocket.

Andy Mann suggested we should go up into the hills in search of the Hairless Odd Legged Haggis. They spend their lives running round the hills and have evolved to have the right legs longer than the left. This keeps them upright on the side of the hill. Some clever scotsman discovered years ago that all you need to do is jump out in front of them and they will turn and run. Then the legs will be on the wrong side so they will roll down the hill. We all decided to give it a go and set out for the hills.

Luke Bothwase had a look at his map and compass to find the best route to the hills. He then proceeded to lead us further into the woods. After a while Andy Mann said he thought the hills were in the opposite direction. The two men had a discussion and finally agreed that we were lost. We all decided to abandon the trip to the hills and find our way back to Ochaye Thinoo. Willie Eckaslike said he was in the scouts when he was a boy and might be able to help.

Willie stood silently and scanned the forest as he turned full circle. Then he pointed to a gap in the trees and said "that way". We all followed and within half an hour we could see the edge of the town. When we got back Andy Mann asked Willie how he found the way. Willie said, "It was easy, I could see the church steeple above the trees".

Everyone said they had a great time and were lucky to see wild haggis and the sight of the wild sporran was an added bonus.