originally part of training/fundraising for the Hepatitis C Trust's Nepal trek. Now, sporadic musings...

Sunday, October 07, 2007

walking in wild landscapes

Three full days of walking. Three days full of bliss...
The woods around Loch Scresort give way to heathered moorland and spectacular waterfalls as the rocky 'road' rises into the hills.
Given that Rum was once compulsorily vacated to make way for 8,000 sheep (we met a chap from Nova Scotia who'd traced his roots to one of those evicted families), I didn't pick up the same grim atmosphere which characterises some areas of the Highlands - Glencoe, for example. Though that, admittedly, was the scene of a massacre - displacement doesn't equal those echoes.
Obviously, ordinary life here has never exactly been a breeze, but maybe the spirituality of the early Christian hermits, or the fun enjoyed by Edwardian playboys balanced that legacy with a lighter energy. (At the start of the 20th century, the castle's owner had 3 racing cars - there were men working full-time on maintaining the roads then, though. The tracks now are, in some places, a challenge even for the 4x4s... )
On our first full day, as we approach Kilmory, we can see the Skye Cuillins across the sea. Kilmory used to be the site of the laundry for the castle - a mere five miles away! - but now has a deer research outpost. We meet several others; the young couple from Penrith spending some time on the Islands as part of their Scottish road trip, Mr Nova Scotia, the hikers who have been castle-bound for the last two days because of rain (? the walking equivalent of fair-weather bikers?) and the teachers accompanying the troupe of teenagers wild-camping their way to their gold Duke of Edinburgh awards. We pass the ghillie's white Toyota pick-up, mercifully minus deer carcases - even when it overtakes us later, a few miles from Kinloch.

from my journal
The hostel rooms are in the old servants quarters on the third floor. Lucy and I are squeezed into a tiny room under the eaves, with space for our beds and a wardrobe and very little else. We have a skylight window that doesn't shut properly, but an old radiator that does, pumping more than enough heat into the space to make it cosy - adequate to dry the clothes we can't shoehorn into the drying room with the other hostellers' gear.
From our window (if we stand up) we can see looming hills and waving treetops.
Our ten-mile hike is such delight. At Kilmory, we find a curve of rock close to the water which shelters us from the biting wind as we feast on our packed lunches.
I take picture after picture, and we breathe lungfuls of fresh island air as the clouds swathe the hills around us. We're lucky, only getting slightly damp in the changeable conditions - and that as much as from internal conditions as external; walking in this landscape is hot work!

It's an artificial community, comprised of Scottish Natural Heritage employees. Although there are specific roles, everyone fulfills a multitude of tasks - the manager of the hostel and hotel took a crash course in hydroelectrics when the island mechanic left recently, and currently operates the islands generators. He and his wife and baby son have been on Rum for 18 months now; his previous post was in the Cairngorms.
'I don't do city jobs,' he tells me when I ask what motivates people to come and work here.

I know what he means.

It's wild out there now - blowing a gale and pouring with rain, the lullaby to sing me to sleep excess water rushing down drain pipes and overspilling other water channels... then the wind dies, and it's just the music of a channel somewhere runnelling off excess water.

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About Me

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I began blogging during training for a trek in the Himalayas... several lifetimes ago. Currently working on my novel - in the tiny spaces left by a 50 hour plus working week...