08 – Lake District and the Highlands ’13

Exploring the Grampians. Old new discoveries. Checking out an abandoned house, one of many in the Highlands. Light footed on a slowly collapsing bridge. 

North of Loch Ness

19.8.12

12:41 am

This morning I woke with an Immortal Technique t-shirt over my face, blocking out the sun.

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We crossed the Grampian Mountains today. Down meandering roads, over blind summits, stone bridges too narrow for more than one car at a time, up mountain sides with sheer drops metres away. Words would never adequately describe the scale, the vastness, the truth of the scene. The mountains are brown with moss and weed, interspersed with purple heather and shades of green from bright grass to pine cone dark.

During the drive, weaving around mountains and following rivers, we listened to Bosnian Rainbows, Nina Simone, Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada. A few times, we stopped to explore and appreciate the viscera of the wild, the reality of it underfoot and all around. No signs of civilisation besides the occasion farm, a few cars and camper vans and long, lonely roads.

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We found an abandoned stone house on a field at the foot of a hill, a shallow river ran behind it. The closest point of entry was a stainless steel gate, we climbed over and headed down the gravel track to the old building. The front door was broken down and the building smelt strongly of sheep shit. A thick, earthy, heavy smell. We stepped through the debris and checked each room. Little was left; some rusted cutlery, an overturned sofa, a mural of a face on the wall.

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The stairs seemed unstable, some of the exposed wood was lime green with rot. Holes in the roof showed white clouds moving fast overhead. Through the remaining windows, you’d see mountains fill the frame in every direction. We edged up the stairs, pressing the step ahead with our toes to test its strength. On the landing and nestled in a corner, we found a bird’s nest, three frightened chicks inside. Their heads poked out the top of a stick and mud cup their mother had built. Their beaks were so big they hid their faces.

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The small river next to the house had an old, grey wood and cable bridge across it. The ladder at the far end had come away almost completely and the panels bent underfoot. The middle of the bridge sagged onto a small pebble island that split the river. We both crossed it cautiously and felt like we were discovering the remains of some lost civilisation. With no one else around, any find feels like a new discovery.

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It’s nearly a full moon tonight. Black clouds drift in and break the moon light, spreading white and yellow above and below; the night sky itself is a dark blue, jagged lines of black—the tops of evergreens—making up the distant horizon.

 

About Luke Smith

I travel around and write about it. When I'm not travelling around, I write about whatever seems meaningful to me at the time; these are usually meditations on current events, finding ways to survive the crushing existential grind of modern civilisation or vaguely philosophical musings.
This entry was posted in In The Swamp, Lake District and the Scottish Highlands '13 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 08 – Lake District and the Highlands ’13

  1. Sue Vincent says:

    Sheep or not… I’d happily move in…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Lake District and the Highlands ’13 – Complete Contents Page | Journeys Through Pre-World War 3 Britain

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