4th August 2007
So let’s see… when I last checked in, I was about to head off for another visit to Scotland – on a quest to find the elusive Fairy Glen on the Isle of Skye. See April entry. I’m happy to report that I found my way through the mists back to Fairy Glen and spent a lovely time there. I’m not sure how I got there – and can’t guarantee I could get back… but I did get there in May. In the context of an Isle so saturated of magical energy, this place radiates its own special harmonics. Ooohwee!.
One thing leads to another in Scotland if I can just keep my ears and heart open. So when I mentioned to one of the locals that I’d been to Fairy Glen he told me about the Fairy Pools near Glen Brittle. When the day was done, I had hiked miles and miles across moorland to the base of Sligeachan and the source of a truly unusual series of pools carved out of limestone by runoff from the magnificent Black Cuillins mountain range.. I could almost see the faeries… just outside of my periphery – skittering along the ledges encircling the pools.
What becomes more and more apparent as I spend more time in Scotland is just how much activity seems to take place just outside my peripheral vision. When I am able to stand perfectly still, I can almost see it. It…. Words fail. I can certainly feel the presence of lots of “activity.” I don’t know how better to express it than that. Here’s what I know: there are places which seem to exist simultaneously in more than one reality. In these locations, if I am attentive, wondrous things occur. And for me – who has always been such a solid ground kind of gal – a real empiricist, this is remarkable.
Each trip to Scotland – six in all since October 2003 – has been transformative for me in one way or another. Though I have always headed for the wild terrain of the west coast and Outer Hebrides, I haven’t really done a lot of interacting with the landscape that would really count as “hiking and climbing.” I have often felt hindered by the weather. Maybe it’s that I travel alone so putting myself in risky physical conditions Also, being a city girl, the idea of slogging along in the mud created by a sudden thunderstorm – which happens all the time – just hasn’t appealed to me.
Really, since I’m not a maven of the outdoors, let alone the Queen of Hiking, I have felt intimidated by the same landscapes I have been drawn to. Morag Campbell of Leabank (my favorite B&B on the Trotternish Ridge) warned me to pay attention to the mist when I hiked the Quiraing mountainside because she had once seen a sheep fall right off the path on a day when the mist dropped quickly down on the range. Huh? However, this trip, I watched the weather carefully and one morning I simply went for it! I can’t tell you how thrilling it was to stand at the very top of that notch in the landscape – the very top. It took hours but I can’t say that I noticed.
Another day, the ever-present mist slowly lifted to expose The Old Man of Storr, that tiny little pinnacle at the top of Storr Mountain. Storr Mountain Views here. I have looked at that landscape on postcards and I have driven by the car park at the base of that particular hiking trail for the past three years – always longing to make the climb but not sure enough of my own physical capacity. It may be that I turned 60 years old in February and wanted to reclaim my physical self in some dramatic way, or it may be that my longing to be in the landscape instead of observing it, just took a hold of me. Climbing the Quiraing Ridge and Storr Mountain reminded me of my first scuba diving experiences after years of snorkeling. Being submerged….surrounded and enveloped in the experience physically as well as spiritually and energetically – was deeply satisfying.
The Storr PinnaclesIt’s not often I feel “proud of myself” but I felt “proud of myself” for reaching the summits of these two mountains. Of course, as life has a way of doing – just so that I don’t lose perspective – as I reached the hardest part of each hike, scrambling over the scree along the escarpment (fabulous climbing words!) I was greeted on both occasions by a young woman HOLDING A BABY IN ONE ARM! as she skipped down the mountainside from the top of the mountain. Jeez. So how long did it take each of them to reach the summit with a baby on their hip? The first time I encountered this lesson in perspective I got a little bit of a resentment, but the second time….I laughed my head off.
What I have just recounted amounts to three days’ experiences of my three-week trip in May. I have so many stories to tell about the trip – so many other startling and remarkable adventures to share. Perhaps I’ll be able to sit down again some time soon to write a second installment. I can’t be sure, though, because the very act of writing about the trip sets off great longing in me to return to Scotland once again. I find that fascinating in and of itself. Hmmmm.
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