Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Breakaway: Gairloch (Day 2)

Sunday in Gairloch was cold. Ridiculously cold. And windy. Did I mention cold and windy? I thought that I was going to be prepared for the wind in Scotland because I grew up on the water and we had wind and cold during the winter and that was quite normal. But there was nothing that prepared me for the way that this wind and cold cuts right through whatever you have on unless it is windproof. And even then, it's wily so it can find a way under the windproof garments.

I got talked into doing another low-medium walk even though my legs were still burning from the previous day with the promise that the one today would be more indicative of a traditional low-medium walk. Fine, it's cool. The burn will feel good.

I don't remember the actual name of where we went (which means I should probably pull out a map and figure it out -- all I remember is pulling off to the side of the road and going through a sheep gate, but that doesn't exactly narrow down the choices in Scotland, does it?) but it was a lovely long rocky path with small lochs and a valley... and a lot of mud. It had snowed a bit the night before and so now the ground was alternately solid and muddy. Lovely.

The forest path before we got up to the rocky hills.

Ah, here we go.

Make sure to add a stone to the cairn as you pass.

Again with the desperate and lonely beauty of the area.

At this point the path headed down to the valley and we were given a choice. We could all go down to the valley, or a few of us could break off and go cross country to circle back to the path. Considering that the valley walk was an extra 7km, and we'd been shaking with cold as we ate lunch, and the fact that I'm pretty sure my legs could get me down into the valley, but up was another deal all together...

I opted for cross country! Which was a bit more interesting than just staying on the path. It was more solitude with the five of us who broke off and a feeling of being out in the middle of the landscape alone.

It's an interesting feeling -- that feeling of being alone in a big, wide expanse. I'm sure that some people would find it incredibly uncomfortable, but I think it's liberating. Fresh air, a chance to clear the mind, and a chance to completely ignore any problems back home for a few glorious hours (or in this case for a few days). No iPod, no constant conversation... a rare opportunity to spend a little time alone with your thoughts as you walk.

It's... uncluttered, I guess is the best way to describe it. And there are far too few times when I feel uncluttered.


  1. I think that the last few sentences of this post sum up the reasons why I love hiking. Uncluttered is a great description. Somehow, the open air and natural surroundings make everything else seem insignificant.

  2. Being out in an open space like that makes me feel small and makes me realize how big everything around me is. And I think that it's nice to feel like a part of something so big and enduring. Some people hate that small feeling, but I find it freeing.