Personal Experience (13)
Personal experiences of visitors and tourists to Scotland and the Scottish Isles
In January like many others, I made some new years resolutions...Not very often do I actually remember the resolutions ...even less likely in September, but one of them was to walk a route with a backpack and camp wild somewhere. It does sound very easy and I have read many trip reports about it...but to pick a nearly 40k route over pathless terrain, with a heavy backpack to carry was maybe slightly pushing it…
Enough to keep sane people in their cosy living rooms... but a few mad ones had to get out . After a renovation project on Saturday, I had made a late decision to head to the hills on Sunday and after reading that Tomsie would be in the area and was also looking for company in the hills, we arranged to meet up to walk the Tarmachan Ridge.
There are days when I can honestly say Scotland is indeed the most beautiful, dramatic small country in the world. On the other hand there are days when hillwalking throws you in this countryside and all you want to do is stand and stare amazed at nature.
With too many things do do at the weekend, I had to ignore the hills up north , but had to go for a wee walk on Saturday as I could not ignore the beautiful day. I decided to go for a wee walk up my 'local ' hill which is literally just a few minutes walk away from my front door.
Route: Beinn Dearg: the Four Munros circuit
Munros: Beinn Dearg (Ullapool), Cona' Mheall, Eididh nan Clach Geala, Meall nan Ceapraichean
Date walked: 23/03/2012
Time taken: 10 hours
Sitting in my car we just passed Inverness about half an hour ago and were on the way to a place called Badrallach. We passed the last car about 15 min ago and the night was clear as a night could be in the northern Highlands of Scotland. Millions of stars were above us and we frequently had to stop for deer which was either standing next to the road or on it. Nature at its best! Taking the turn to Badrallach old trees framed the sides of the road and annoyed sheep stared at us, when they realized they have to give up their sleeping place in the middle of the road to let us past. Driving along a tiny single track road were signs warned that CTTV cameras were in action due to sheep rustling :shock: , it became clear that we were in the middle of no mans land. :D :D :D
The trip, an annual event with "friends of friends" called the “Mid-Summer Run”, began that year at Fairmilehead, on the outskirts of Edinburgh.
I undertook it on a motorbike but everyone is welcome to take whatever vehicle suits. We headed North, which is about all the route planning undertaken each year and I took up “point” in front of the convoy, not because I had a route in mind but simply because I had the slowest vehicle.
For me, on that route, every trip really only starts as I head down the steep hill on the M90 that descends towards Bridge of Earn. I like to look over my right shoulder (if safe to do so) and take in the view all the way along the Tay valley towards Dundee. On the A9, memories of previous trips are triggered by signposts for Dunkeld, The Hermitage and Aberfeldy. The memories provoke an overwhelming sense of Deja vu, something I find only Scotland's sights and sounds can produce with such intensity.
Driving past the House of Bruar I remembered swimming in the VERY cold rock pools of the falls at the rear of the shopping complex (both places worth a visit) and as if on cue a rain shower reminded me just how cold our water can be. Scotland is nothing if not Synchronistic.
Unfortunately, I broke down in Drumochter Pass and as the others carried on, I waited for the repair van whilst taking in the “empty” landscape. I still think back in awe of the wildlife that thrives there simply BECAUSE we’re not there.
The next day I get back on the road to catch up my friends and after enjoying the Inverness-Ullapool road (a must for all motorcyclists) I caught the ferry to Stornoway. No time to pop in for the best Black Pudding in the world as I meet up with my friends at Callanish, the 5,000 year old site of standing stones that have a spirit all of their own.
We head onward to Harris and spend the night at the Rodel Hotel where Donnie and Dena’s hospitality and Sea Otter sightings make it a very special place. From Tarbert we take the ferry to Skye and after stopping in Uig for a swim in the crystal clear water off the public jetty, we dried out in the sun before continuing South. After dinner and a few pints at the Sligachan hotel across from the campsite we walk back without torches, taking in the permanently twilit sky that this trip is all about.
The next day, on the homeward leg as we approach Edinburgh, I waved goodbye to new friends and old that I’ll likely not see for a couple of years.
Only Scottish memories make such remote friendships endure.