I’ve never been to Barra

….. so Barra came to me, well, Storm Barra popped round. Luckily Edinburgh rarely gets the brunt of any bad weather, some poor sods had only just had their power reconnected after Storm Arwen to lose it again! (who chooses the names for storms?!) Arwen caused a right kerfuffle around the UK, she came the last weekend in November and set quite a high benchmark for the rest of the storms this winter! Storm Barra was never going to be as badass but he gave it go.

As I said, Edinburgh never gets hit as hard as other places, bad weather here is really just crappy weather, but, of course, folk will moan like it’s the absolute worst! Arwen brought Edinburgh cold high winds, some rain, and left a smattering of snow; I would have enjoyed a toddle around Holyrood Park but was booked to leave Edinburgh first thing on the Sunday morning, shame. At least there was snow where I was headed, and it was the easterly, powdery stuff, yay, and not so much as they had around Tan Hill in North Yorkshire, so getting about was fine.

The Tan Hill Inn, previously famous as the highest pub in Britain (1,732ft or 528m above sea level) is now famous for having a three day lock-in thanks to Storm Arwen. She brought 3ft of snow, but the high winds caused snowdrifts up to 9ft deep and downed a power line blocking the road, the pub was completely cut off – with over sixty folk inside, including an Oasis tribute band who’d been playing on the Friday night. The story made the news around the world, yesterday the pub’s Facebook page had an estimated audience size of 48M-56M, like wow! The tribute band Noasis (soon nicknamed Snoasis by the press) kept their fans updated on Facebook, finally announcing “Noasis have left the building”, hey, the story even got a mention in RollingStone.

This highest pub in Britain thing got me wondering about where the highest pub in Scotland is, the Highlands, surely? And how much higher could a pub in Yorkshire be than a pub up in the Highlands? It turns out, the highest pub in Scotland is nowhere near the Highlands, it’s actually way down in the south west in a village called Wanlockhead, goes by the name Wanlockhead Inn (no The for this Inn) and it falls 201ft short of the overall British title. Oh, and it’s not the second highest pub in Britain neither, that goes to The Cat & Fiddle in Cheshire at 1689ft above sea level. Have many folk visited all three as a thing, I wonder? Some years ago I may well have made it a challenge to myself, for now I’ll content myself with battling the wind blowing down the Cowgate!

I left Edinburgh after Arwen had swept through town and returned in time for Barra turning up. My trip away was also bookended by Carl Marah playing at Stramash, first with the Willie Dug Band ( I was going to see Willie Dug anyway, Carl was an unexpected bonus!) and then with his fellow Scat Rat, Scott Rough. After a full-on week it was so good to have a pint and listen to my favourite duo, the lads were on great form. I recall their rendition of Norwegian Wood was particularly fine, oh and they finished the first set with Del Shannon’s Runaway, don’t reckon I’ve heard them do that one before.

If I had to be stuck in a pub in the middle of nowhere for three days with a band, Logan’s Close would be my first choice, yes, above all other current bands (if we’re going full fantasy line-up, I’d need more time to think about it). As long as there was enough food in for full scottish fry-ups, oh yay, breakfast serenades!

I leave you with an attempt to replicate the plight of the Tan Hill Inn….

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