09 – Lake District and the Highlands ’13

Driving safe on dangerous roads. Discovering Loch Maree. White trees around Beinn Eighe. Part of the macro-organism. 



12:04 pm

Rubhareidh Lighthouse, West Coast, Highlands

The craziest drive yesterday. Through mountain valleys, along narrow cliff side roads that wound up steep inclines—steep enough that the car struggled with them, and that you felt the strong possibility of rolling back the way you’d come, the car flipping, and ending up a fiery wreck on a beautiful beach. We went along slowly disintegrating roads that were a metre away from fifty foot drops to the ocean. One error on Yuri’s part could have cost our lives. For most of the journey my right hand rested over my heart and I sat perfectly straight in the passenger seat.


After leaving Loch Ness we stopped at Loch Maree, a quieter location, surrounded by the Bein Eighe range, far further from civilisation, and much better suited to loch monsters. Here the trees had white bark and their roots stretched over and between pebbles on the shore, burrowing down amongst them. We’d never seen trees like this; low, drooping trees, growing at the edge of a large body of water, not on mud or grass, but stones.

I sat on the branch of a tree for a while. It overhung a stream that fed Loch Maree. I could have stayed there my entire life and I doubt I’d of regretted it. The tree was perfectly shaped to sit on and easy to climb, one of those natural formations that seem better evidence of God than any of his numerous works of literature.


The water that ran beneath me was clear and shallow. I was lost in myself and lost in the world. I felt almost a part of the tree. I suppose we are all part of the macro-organism—planet Earth—me and the tree equally, and at that time I felt our connection as something tangible. My body consists of thousands of types of bacteria, it has hundreds of different organisms on and in it. The tree and I are the same. A part of the whole. Along with the river and the ocean, the mountains and the dirt, the sky and the sediment.


Later, we parked up on another shore of Loch Maree and stared across the water at cloud-faded Slioch. The mountain dominates the view even when partially obscured. You can feel it looming over the loch. There were a few camper vans nearby but not many people were outside. The midges are particularly persistent around Loch Maree. It’s rare you can venture outside without a midge net. I rolled a joint and in the moody gloom we watched the water ripple and the treetops rustle and when I was ready and the mood in the car was right, we listened to the new John Frusciante E.P. Our first time. We’d saved it for the occasion.

I sat in the passenger seat and let moments pass. We waited for nothing.

This is the nature of life and exploration.

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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.
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7 Responses to 09 – Lake District and the Highlands ’13

  1. Great post – I love those last 2 lines!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. twobrownfeet says:

    Road trips are always unpredictable! Your pictures and words fittingly capture the fluidity of that feeling.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: 12 – The Lake District and Highlands ’13 – Reflections | Journeys Through Pre-World War 3 Britain

  4. Pingback: 15 – The Highlands ’13 – Reflections: Giant Mushrooms on the Dead Ground | Journeys Through Pre-World War 3 Britain

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

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