I have always loved mountains! When I was 11 my school took us on an outward bound retreat at Blairvadach on the east shores of Gare Loch, near Loch Lomond. We did many fun activities, including climbing a mountain and my group had the joy of going up one Ben Lawers, the highest mountain in the southern part of the Scottish Highlands, 3983 feet. Needless to say it took us all day to get up and back down, my recollection being the going up was hard but the coming down was much harder! Stood on the top we could see for miles around and some clouds were actually below us which was breathtaking!
I recall that day as one of my most strenuous and yet thrilling day of my younger years, probably the day I fell in love with mountains – their sheer size, majesty, grandeur, awe and beauty. The air breathed from the top of a mountain is like no other, the sounds of wildlife living up here that you can never encounter down below and the sense of being a little closer to heaven, perhaps, is just wonderful to behold and be a part of.
My family loved travelling around the tourist spots of Scotland on holiday, Callander being a favourite place for basing ourselves in the summer holidays. But I remember one day we travelled through a magnificent place called Glencoe – a place I had come to be fascinated about in my History studies at school – with the gory history of Clan Macdonald and the Glencoe Massacre of 1692. As one who becomes part of any story she reads, I was of course overwhelmed with sadness at what happened here on that fateful day when the clan was set upon by government soldiers, some of whom had been offered hospitality by the clan just moments earlier. The video of the massacre in Glencoe Visitor’s Centre does not portray the English or Lowland Scots responsible in a very endearing light, and history suggests this bloodshed could have been avoided. Whatever the facts, the mystery and macabre of the Macdonald’s story lingers on in these mountains and valleys, a place that many are still drawn to today.
What is it, I wonder, that draws us to this most barren of places? I will share some thoughts with you in the days and weeks to come of why I and others continue to be drawn to these mountainous landscapes. Follow me and, who knows, perhaps you might enable the mountain to be in you too…..