Mountain Therapy

27 Oct

A couple of weeks ago my sister got married on the banks of Loch Leven in Glencoe. My Mum made the wedding cake, it’s got playmobil on the top! I was a bridesmaid and it was a lovely day.


After the wedding I spent time with my family in Fort William and I went to visit a friend on The Isle of Skye. I’ve got a new phone, the Samsung Galaxy Note. It’s a cross between a phone and a tablet. “Is that your phone?, It’s a beast” Is a common response but I love it and it takes great pictures.

So here’s my highland holiday from the Galaxy note (and me).

Ben Nevis

I took these at the bottom of the mountain, can you spot snow on the hills and a yellow dog?:

We took a cable car up Ben Nevis, here’s the view from the top:

Neptune’s Staircase

We visited Neptune’s staircase – eight locks in a row on the Caledonian Canal:

Fort William to Skye

I took the train from Fort William to Mallaig – it’s a famous rail journey and it’s very beautiful but I think the Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh journey is even better! I’ve been to Skye a few times but this is the first time I’ve traveled by ferry (speed bonny boat!):

Kinloch Forest Trail

I went a wee walk in a place I discovered when I last visited Skye, the Kinloch Forest Trail.


The trail takes you to one of my favourite views on Skye:

After that I hitched to Broadford and caught up with my friend Reuben. We cooked a feast for his friends Laurence and Bridget. We all stayed in a caravan with a wood burning stove and later we enjoyed oatcakes, a cheese selection and a wee dram. It was brilliant.


The next day we went for a drive to see the view over to Knoydart, the closest point to the mainland,:


Then we drove to Sligachan for some magical mountain views.


After that we went to the Fairy pools, my friend Tom recently wrote about them here.

The Fairy Pools

This is Bridget and Laurence at the fairy pools:

Bridget makes Firebread Pizza in London and Laurence is an artist in Edinburgh, they were both great.

There was snow on the mountains above. That didn’t stop this group climbing down to get to the pools to do something extraordinary:

I’ve blogged about the joys of wild swimming but there was no way I was taking off multiple layers of thermals and fleeces to enter the icy cold water. I love the carved curves and shapes in the pools. Here’s the icy water pummeling the rocks and splashing up into the air, you can see how it starts to shape the rocks:

Saved By Cheese

After that I went for a walk by myself over the hills. It was a three-mile track from the Fairy Pools car park to Sligachan but it took hours and I had a very strange experience. I’d been steadily climbing uphill for a while and the wind was blowing hard, it was freezing. Suddenly the wind dropped and I felt totally calm. It seemed like a really good idea to lie down so I did.

I didn’t feel cold at all and I decided to have a little sleep. At the same time there seemed to be a voice in my head saying “Don’t sleep, whatever you do don’t sleep!” but I felt so comfy and tired I just ignored it. As I closed my eyes the voice said “Don’t sleep, get up and eat cheese instead!”. At that point I opened my eyes, it seemed like a good alternative. So I got up and ate two slices of cheese I’d saved from my packed lunch as I walked on. Five minutes later I was quite appalled to think I was about to have a sleep on the freezing cold hillside! It started raining and I started singing into the wind just to make sure I stayed wide awake.

Finally the path came near to its end and I recognised the Sligachan mountains. It was very beautiful but I was mighty glad to getting off the freezing hillside and onto the road at last.


I hitched back to Broadford with an interesting lady, Dunia. She was a Cullin Fools circus performer, an artist and many other things (as is customary on Skye). She used to live in the city and was a social butterfly – she explained how she would often double book herself. Then she moved to Skye and everything changed. She now enjoys time alone and has been living around Skye for 13 years. She’s just brought a croft with her husband and they’re learning to do everything on the croft from scratch. I chatted to her and by the time we got to Broadford she had decided to start a blog to share her experiences. I’m looking forward to reading it!


The next day I got the ferry home, as I walked up the ramp I felt a sinking weight of sadness. Thankfully the ferry ticket man was so cheery he stopped me crying with his smile. I was going to miss Skye. I had a few hours in Mallaig before I got my train to Fort William so I asked a couple of guys where the best place to get a bacon roll and a cup of tea was. They sent me to the Fisherman’s Mission.

The Fisherman’s Mission

The mission was brilliant and really cheap, I spent a few hours there and was surprised to be asked to sign a leaving card. They explained I was one of the last customers at the Mission. It was closing that day due to declining fishing industry. It seemed such a shame. Just near closing time skipper Ewen Nicholson (above) came in for his last supper. He had worn his best suit for the occasion and he asked staff to take a photo. He’d been coming to the mission for 30 years. No one had a camera so in the end I offered. I ended up taking lots of photos of Ewen and having a good chat about his life, fishing and his pet seal. I wrote about him on the Leith Library blog here.

Mallaig to Fort William

I got my train and took more photos from the window, I was quite pleased with this one of the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct (from the Harry Potter Films):

The Slug Allotments

Back in Fort William I walked up the hill in Fort William with my Mum and found some lovely allotments:


The Train Home

The next day I got a very early train home to Edinburgh across a misty Rannoch Moor. Deer kept running along beside the train. It was very beautiful. I experimented taking photos of the vegetation passing the lochs and mountains to make streaks.


Back in Edinburgh

I’ve found it hard to readjust to a busy life back in the city. I’ve been back just one week but it’s been full on. I had the Reader in Residence induction day and a poetry gig. I filmed and blogged interviews at the launch of book week Scotland and had to rearrange a speaker for this Thursday’s NENgage social media training. I’ve also had three meetings to set up three new freelance projects and I’ve been working at the library.

Don’t get me wrong, all the things I’ve been doing this week have been great but I loved being anonymous in the mountains. I wanted to stay a little longer there.

But life goes on. I’ve vowed to get out on my mountain bike a little more and go walking in the hills at weekends. That way I can maybe get a little mountain therapy all year round.


Posted by on October 27, 2012 in Environment, nature


Tags: , , , , , ,

9 responses to “Mountain Therapy

  1. @rupertbu

    October 27, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    What a super narration of your time in the wilds, along with the pics, and what I thought were bee-hives are gardeners huts 🙂

    • auntyemily

      October 27, 2012 at 6:19 pm

      Thanks Rupert! They do look like bee-hives (:

  2. Elspeth

    October 28, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    You heard the voice of Cheesus!

    • auntyemily

      October 28, 2012 at 9:58 pm

      Love it! Brilliant Elspeth (:

  3. FruitlessWork

    October 28, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    Great blog – wonderful photographs and some extraordinary tales to tell. Spent a week round Fort William and Glen Nevis in September, so good to see some of the same places and also plenty more that I didn’t get to see. Have every intention of going back! Particularly jealous of you riding the train to Mallaig.

    Completely sympathise with the feeling of being forced back into reality – felt very much the same after taking on the challenge of climbing Ben Nevis. The open space and the solitude (which exists even if you’re with other people, strangely) are so very very appealing, and incredibly easy to adapt to.

    If you’ll forgive the shameless plug, I wrote about it here:

    • auntyemily

      October 28, 2012 at 10:03 pm

      Hi Paul. Thanks loads for the feedback – I’ve read your blog. Loved the description of climbing the mountain and the stark contrast to the traffic. Also liked when you said about having smug thoughts! Brilliant (:

  4. Marianne Wheelaghan (@MWheelaghan)

    October 31, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    Great photos and a brilliant record of your trip away – wow were you busy! loved it. I’m with you on thermals and not taking them off to swim in icy cold water ;o)


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