"Oh god I forgot the matches", were not the words I wanted to hear from my brother as we started our five-day trek and canoe trip in one of the remotest parts of the Scottish Highlands.
My three brothers (Ini, 29, Alfy, 31, and Lucian, 32) and I were going on a "sibling only" holiday for the first time ever – namely because all the people we invited dropped out.
Fortunately Ini was given some matches by a man who lived in one of the few houses clustered around the isolated Highland station of Achnasheen, around 90 minutes west of Inverness by train. It was here we started hiking in glorious sunshine in this land of rock, bog, heather and dilapidated houses, whose inhabitants include deer, buzzards, oystercatchers and peewits.
According to the man in the Blacks outdoor equipment shop – a source of extra kit in Inverness – the country had not seen weather this good in eight years. Our organisation may have been poor but our timing was impeccable.
For the next five days we saw only a handful of people – two climbers, two fisherman and a sheep farmer. We lived out of rucksacks, slept in tents and carried inflatable pack rafts to navigate the lochs.
The landscape appears so prehistoric and timeless it's tempting to believe it's always looked this way. But this is a misconception. The clue is in the countless petrified tree roots preserved in the peat bogs.
Some of them are up to 4,500 years old and are remains from when Neolithic humans cleared and burned the woodland on these hills to make way for early forms of agriculture. It might seem empty, but this is very much a landscape shaped by humans.
Every night we camped next to lochs and managed to fit in a swim first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
We carried as little as possible. Stones and grit in the lochs were used instead of washing up liquid, a solar pack charged Lucian's drone (a luxury we all had to carry) and coffee beans were used twice. Supper was either a sachet of rice, lentils or pasta.
Not knowing quite how empty the Scottish Highlands would be, we only provisioned food for three days thinking we would "pass a shop at some point".
And in fact we knew we wouldn't. We'd been told as much by a man in Inverness we'd hired our pack raft from, but we didn't have time to buy anything extra because we had a train to catch.
The trip turned out to be like going on fat camp - we carefully rationed food each night right down to the last cube of Dairy Milk chocolate.
The most incredible view was over the causeway between Fionn Loch (White Loch) and Dubh Loch (Black Loch). This was one of the many occasions in which Lucian took out his drone. Taken from hundreds of feet high, his amazing images show the landscape for tens of miles around – with not a single sign of active inhabitation.
In classic sibling style Lucian would not let anyone else have a go with his drone (we weren't even allowed to look over his shoulder in case we learnt the controls).
One evening he put it in our tent. "Don't put your bedding in", he warned me. "Actually just don't go in there at all". Lucian's behaviour was particularly ironic considering he had crashed Alfy's drone into a tree.
Down in the valley by the causeway we met two climbers. The older man said he'd been climbing for 52 years and had been dreaming of tackling the sheer rocks in this remote valley since he started. They'd walked for two days to get there and would be walking two days back.
We met another pair salmon fishing on Loch Maree. They eulogised about how wonderful the weather was and didn't mind a jot that they hadn't seen a fish all day. They seemed somewhat inebriated and kindly gave us their last Old Speckled Hen and fulfilled my brothers' three-day long dream of drinking cold beer.
On the third night we slept on an island in Loch Maree. Ini noticed deer prints in the sand and suggested, given our dwindling food supplies, that we round the creature up and hunt it down. However, unkempt heather on the island, lots of ticks and a lack of willpower from his less blood-thirsty siblings stopped him getting far with his proposed ambush.
On our penultimate morning we took a rogue route across some marshy land and clambered across two rivers with sinking mud at the bottom. By 10am we were not only extremely wet but knee-deep in "boggy deposits". The horseflies were so virulent not even my insect repellent kept them away. At the end of "bog-gate" Lucian counted 164 bites on his legs and arms alone.
Our trip finished in a small town on the west coast called Poolewe. The place is known for its gardens but Alfy capsized our pack raft before we could get there. Instead we spent the afternoon in the car park of a local pub drying out all our electronics. We'd worn the same clothes all week so perhaps it's for the best we never made it to the gardens.