Tag: Scotland

Highland Main Line Train

The Highland Main line train siddles out of the cold comfort of Dalwhinnie. In the distance sugar dusted mountains tickled by fluffy low lying cloud, smiled on by the blue eyes of heaven. We trundle by wirey puffs of scrubby heather knitted into the patchwork greens of this bobbly blanket, covering a duvet of bouncy peaty soil. The necklace of pylons and the dinky trucks on the distant roadway wink sparks of winter sun. Scatterlings of light spin off shiny silver bark ruffling the copper mops of autumnal trees. Through the leafy cut, saluted by skinny regiments of pine, ignored by the shawl of afro haired sheep across the fields and the sleepy gaze of one brawny white bull lounger in the soggy bog. Kingussie huddled in a snowy cleavage. We are greeted by the dancing shimmer of white ladies ready to wave us on our way into the Northern light and the call of Inverness.

Travelling the Highland Main Line from Glasgow to Inverness November 2013

Randolph’s Leap

IMAG3068November 21st 2013: Scotland: Forres to Aviemore and back.

If you look up Randolph’s Leap on the internet you will find that they are a Glasgow based figment of your imagination.  This is not the Randolphs Leap I was looking for, the leap of rushing waters and craggy rocks where the Findhorn and the Divie rivers converge http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randolph%27s_Leap here the Findhorn tumbles side on into unrelenting hardcore and is squeezed around this bend and through a mean gap in the rocks.

Legend has it that this narrow gorge was Alistair Cummings’ (Comyn) saving grace when being chased by the Earl of Moray (Thomas Randolph) as a result of land scrimishes.  Although he was able to leap to freedom he was not lucky enough, in the long run, to hold on to land that historically belonged to the Cummings. Over time he lost his right to the legend too as Comyns Leap became Randolph’s.  We, myself , Adam and Bob,  stop off en route to Aviemore where Bob has to catch a train to Edinburgh.  We are all enchanted in this deeply russet chalice of nature.  On a quiet day it is benign but accidents have happened; a 39 yr old man lost his life here earlier this year and there is a warning of flash floods.  In this narrow gorge it is possible for water to raise 50ft above normal levels.  The caged stones marking the floods of 1829 bracket our walk down to the gorge and the mound of Venus where the waters meet.  Here you can sit and and absorb the ions of copulating rivers.  I can imagine druids and rock faeries hanging here, siphoning off the peaty waters for spells and whisky.  We stay longer than intended and it is rush to get Bob for his train.  We are late by 2 minutes but to be obliging the train is delayed by 4 min.  Bob safely aboard Adam and I partake of an abundance of cheap and cheerful meatballs at Papa Rocks, sipping cider in amongst motorbikes and pensioners http://www.paparock.org.uk/

Home along the flat flood plain of the River Spey, bouncing along on squishy peaty roads under the off white fleece of felted sky, soft and shot through with pink and blue hints of heaven. We arrive at Logie Steading at the closing of the day in time to browse the book haven and craft shops. Discovering old tomes and trying on hats of elves and orks http://www.logie.co.uk/

Going To Glasgow

On the 5th November 2013 I left London on my journey north to find the Findhorn Community in Morayshire. My first stop Glasgow, to visit my goddaughter Hana, on her overseas from New Zealand. Hana warned me of her student abode. To my delight I discover that student digs arent what they use to be in my day.  Far superior indeed, lots of space, a guest room with a double bed and art work on the walls! I was less delighted to discover than in November Glasgow is ‘two pairs of tights and three sweater’ country.  It was 11 degrees C leaving London, four hours later a frosty -1 degrees C.  I was grateful for my hat with earflaps and two pairs of gloves to brave the chill of wildly punchy firework display from the slopes of the West Brewery on Glasgow Green with Hana, Krishna from Trivandrum & Alison from Minnesota.

Despite my struggle with the cold, damp and darkness I had a heart warming visit; haggis & chips at Old Saltys on Argyll Street, at the Kelvingrove an unexpected organ recital, a taste of the Glasgow boys, the famous stuffed Mr Jones (with eyelashes, leg and ear hair intact), memories of great coffee at Kember & Jones on Byres Rd, infusions of student life and ginger & lavender tea at Tchai Ovna http://tchaiovna.com/ where we are served a twist of Mongolian caravan, a large spoonful of centuries of student life and a dash of conversation all stirred with dreams.  A night of Black Russians at the Lebowski and the acoustic tones of balladeers and rough edged voices of new youth at the No 78 Open Mike night. A second day of chocolate at No 1 The Chocolate Factory, Sauchiehall street and some Mackintosh indulgence rounded off with cinema and wine at The Grosvenor where Alan Partridge gave Judi Dench a run for her money in carefully crafted Philomena.

A flying visit that took me over the threshold of Scotland, rekindling the magic of Picts and Celts. Next stop Inverness!