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Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Leaving the Highlands

Sharon dropped me and Oscar off at Inverness station at 0919 this morning. Not too many people travelling, so I've two seats to myself. After Dalwhinnie, past the river Truim flowing north, the Gary south, my train to Glasgow Queen Street gets up speed descending from Drumochter Pass towards Blair Atholl. This is when I leave the the Highlands.
* * * I've walked, alone and with my mother, and always with the terriers. Two days ago I strolled in the gentle rain in woods above Farr, the dogs running in all directions, but in my periphery, never straying to where I might worry they'd bother stock. A hind jumped delicately across my path. Oscar poked his head through the thicket behind her, puzzled at the beast he'd startled. The rain has hardly raised the water in the Farnack but it stirred the burns. I came back to Brin Croft pleasantly soaked in soft water, towelled the dogs before tea.
Another day we went to Nairn and strolled the Culbin marshes in sun and breeze; on Sunday we visited Coignafearne on the Findhorn and yesterday I drove mum to Shenakie, on the same river 10 miles down. The midges were troublesome despite a net and she was weary, so suggested I climb to exercise the dogs. We walked for half an hour up to where the wind blew away the midges and I could lie back in the ling and gaze on a burn that fed the Findhorn as the dogs explored, showing now and then a tail or ears above the violet cover. As I clambered awkwardly down a dry burn a small toad caught my eye, sat in a sphagnumed cavity among the surrounding greenery. It gazed out at the world serene as a Buddha. I stared back, entranced, glad that a digital camera has no intrusive click - though I doubt she'd have been disturbed. Because I held my breathe the midges couldn't find me. I watched unbothered by them, as they flew around and the toad, a steady pulse at its throat, waited.
* * *
I was on a private bridge over the shallow waters of the summer Findhorn at Coignafearn. Driving eight miles from Brin Croft via the Garbole Road from Farr in Strathnairn, we strolled here with the three terriers - Oscar, Beebee and Lulu. Gentle breeze and blue sky and the sound of the river and an occasional curlew. Oscar came upon and killed a rabbit showing early signs of myxomatosis, listless before Oscar found it, with swollen eyelids. The estate here is Sigrid Rausing's, heir to the inventor of TetraPaks (drink cartons with clever openings) - with relatives, recently in the news for a drug offence - a philanthropic family involved with many causes, including the environment and others aimed at weening the young off drugs. My mother and I talked about this as we strolled beside the river and the dogs romped in the heather. I've slept soundly. The usual nightmares of corruption and betrayal token my waking content.

2 comments:

  1. Simon,

    Thanks for taking me along on your walk. Scotland seems beautiful and untamed. A place one can hear himself think again. May the wind be always at your back.

    Give your Mum a hug for me.

    Stay well.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I will Stavros, but it must be virtual for the moment as we lie now in Greece, in dear Ελλας

    ReplyDelete

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