I have always thought the waters of Loch Maree are one of those few places in Scotland that can only be described by one word: elemental. As if they came fresh from the forging of the world. Pure. Tempestuous. Wild.
The long nose of the kayak rode up on a wave and slapped down hard, splashing water into the air. The wind snatched the spray and slapped me in the face with it, catching me in the eyes. Stung, I shook my head and blinked, but I couldn’t raise a hand to my eyes. I couldn’t stop paddling; not even for a moment. Instead I dug in again, keeping to the rhythm, keeping the boat moving forward. I was alone on the water in the storm, fighting through the headwind. As my eyes cleared once again I looked up through the spray. I could see I still had a long way to go before I reached the shore.
“this journey (…) is not to be undertaken lightly. One walks among elementals, and elementals are not governable. There are awakened also in oneself by the contact elementals that are as unpredictable as wind or snow” Nan Shepherd, The living Mountain I don’t know what it is, but there’s just something about this place. TheseContinue reading “A Walk Among Elementals”
The recent spell of fine weather here in the Highlands was a great opportunity to enjoy a relatively easy night out in a tent. After several good hill days on Cairngorm and Creag Meagaidh, I was very keen and eager to spend some more time among the mountains with my camera. I chose a fairlyContinue reading “My First Wild Camp of the Year”
I needed a moment to pause as I took in the ridge that I was about to climb. ‘Oh boy. Here we go.’ Sometimes I think it would be nice if these mountains would just stay the same size for once. But they seem to grow and they shrink. Tonight the ridge seems long. ‘NoContinue reading “Sunset on Cairngorm”
Despite having spent over a decade exploring the Caledonian Forests of the Rothiemurchus estate, there are some areas of these woods where I have very rarely set foot. The higher reaches of the forest, where it fades and blends into the mountainsides of the northern Cairngorms, is an area of huge photographic and emotional potentialContinue reading “Walking at the Forest’s Edge”
I’ve been trying to get my head in gear to write a new post for weeks now. This is the 5th draft I’ve started in ten minutes, but this is the one that’s going to stick. When I sat down and started writing I thought I’d go with the prevalent mood that I see online today – the mood of fury and disaster. I even drafted something apologising for my tendency to always seek a positive note, to give myself permission to wallow in the collective misery.
A few days ago the first snows of winter arrived on the mountains. There was a hard edged clarity of light in the forest that I only know from winter – white edges and black shadows running along every branch. The remains of autumn colours clung to the tips of wind stripped birch trees, likeContinue reading “Today Was a Gift”
“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”“The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.” John Muir A young deer was looking at me. I held the gaze of its dark and shiny eyes, its long eyelashes and dark snout. IContinue reading “Deer Eyes”
As soon as the man on the phone stopped shouting at me and hung up, I made up my mind about going away. A few minutes later I had a self catering cottage booked in the village of Kilchoan on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula. I reasoned that besides being a place I’d wanted to spend timeContinue reading “The Oaks of Sunart”
It occurred to me the other day, while I was walking up a hill through long grass beneath shady birch trees, that the most important and enduring relationship we have in our lives is the one we have with the land we live on. It then occurred to me that this should always have beenContinue reading “Land the Person”