Let’s start with the father. Charles (Charlie) MacLean MBE is the world’s foremost expert on whisky (not to be confused with whiskey). His nose is sought out by every distillery in Scotland. He has published 18 books, one of which won a James Beard award, he’s appeared in a Cannes-winning film. Yet he would certainly (and proudly) concede that his greatest accomplishments in life are his three boys Ewan, Jamie and Lachlan (Lala).
The three brothers grew up running the trails near their uncle’s bothie in Nedd, northwestern Scotland. They’re competitive in a way that only siblings can be. And supportive in a way that few siblings are. This is likely due in part to the fact that they are the fastest (and youngest) three people to ever have rowed across the Atlantic ocean. It took them just over 35 days to make it from the Canary Islands to the sandy shores of Antigua. Along the way they lost their navigation system, an oar and a few kilos each. But they raised thousands of pounds for their charity BROAR. They also came to appreciate the incredible properties of Dyneema. Dyneema, the same bio-based fibre used in the upper of every pair of nordas, is also used to make the ropes that their lives depended on to cross the ocean.
Once back in Scotland, it was Jamie who first reached out to say hello once he’d discovered the brand through the legendary Achilles Heel store in Glasgow. One thing led to another and before we knew it we were on a flight from Montreal to Edinburgh to meet the brothers and do some trail-tripping through their corner of the Scottish Highlands.
We started out with a quick lunch stop in Ullapool (black pudding pizza from a wood-fired oven in a tiny food truck was just a hint of the culinary journey we were on). Bonus points to our photographer Moe Lauchert reminding us Canadians this is a “try’ day where you eat a least one thing you never have, before heading out for some local trails near our base in Lochinver.
Over the next 3 days, we discovered waterfalls, forgotten castles and many, many patches of seed ticks in the heather. The brothers got to test drive our new FW colourways. In return they showed us some of the most stunning scenery we’ve ever seen, let alone run. We cruised the spongy peat fields near the Old Man of Stoer. We raced beside the emerald blue waters of Clachtoll beach. We ran through the mossy, fern-filled forests by the sea near Nedd, foraged fresh chanterelles, bought live langoustines direct from the boat (thank you to Fisherman Mr Sandy Sheep- yes that’s his real name), and watched the brothers build a fire under the brightest rainbow we’ve ever seen. We are not making this up. We kept waiting for the crew of Outlander to appear from around the bend (oh admit it, you’ve watched a couple episodes at least). The pinnacle moment came as we struggled to keep up with Ewan, Jamie and Lala scrambling to the peak of Stac Pollaidh in just twenty minutes, the brothers donning proudly their Maclean kilts that weigh a good stone each (FKT in kilts?). We chased the setting sun around the back of the mountain before running into a majestic stag (is there any other kind?) who watched motionless as we ran past. Oh come on Scotland, what else you got?
The trip ended, as all trips must, with one final climb, up the stairs to the ‘tasting room’ of their father Charlie. He welcomed us like long-lost family (we all want to be a Maclean brother now) and poured out drams that were older than we were. We set out to shoot FW campaign and we left with everlasting kinship with the Maclean brothers and respect for the beauty of Lochinever, Assynt, Nedd and beyond. It was the perfect end to a perfect Scottish adventure, trail-tripping in the Highlands.
Thank you to Ewan, Jamie, and Lachlan: norda’s themes of trust, family and community are embodied by the unforgettable experience of running with you.
Words by Stuart Macmilan/cheeky edits by Willa Martire. Photos by Moe Lauchert
PS Best squash chanterelle risotto and langoustines we’ve ever had. Brothers that row, run and cook. What’s under the kilt?