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Making morning memories

P1070232When dawn is breaking at 04.15 and the sun’s rays are just starting to inch their way down the rocky mountain tops, it isn’t easy to walk away from the wilderness.

I’d been camping out in the remote wilds of Fisherfield in Scotland’s far north west for two nights, climbing some of the most inaccessible hills in the country, and it was time to leave.

My friends tents were motionless in the half light; the inhabitants still asleep. Quietly I packed up my dew-sodden shelter, stuffed the gear into my rucksack and set off on the track between the sprawling lochs and hills. What a morning to be alive and alone.

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At the first loch I unhooked my pack, washed my face in the soft peaty water, stowed my jacket and sized up the last of my food store: just an orange and a tiny breakfast bar. The walk would take at least five hours so I delayed my feast and crossed the stone causeway between two lonely stretches of water.

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I heard the cuckoo calling and startled a few red deer as my boots grazed the stones of the rough path. And as I walked I tried to think of other mornings in my life that had felt as magical and momentous as this one. The early hours when my children were born are unforgettable, of course; there’s a string of dawns spent walking out from a corrie camp one romantic summer many decades ago that merge into one; and most nostalgic of all are the occasional early mornings of an idyllic childhood when my father woke me early to walk with him up to our high fields to collect the cows for the early milking. I recall anxious swallows swooping with food for their young in the eaves of the barns and the otherwise stillness of summer dawn as I held Dad’s hand and we walked up the road. I remember my sandshoes getting damp on dewy grass, the herd rustling and impatient at the gate and the precious feeling that no-one else in the world was up this early.

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There was no-one else up early in Fisherfield either. I didn’t meet a soul for hours.

And I resolved to make more morning memories.

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14 Comments Post a comment
  1. Awesome! What kind of camera do you carry when you travel solo like this?

    August 10, 2015
    • It’s a compact Panasonic Lumix which isn’t giving the great results it did when it was new, just three years ago. Maybe has been out in too many damp Scottish days. I miss my SLR but it’s too heavy when every gram matters. Sometimes I just use my iPhone.

      August 10, 2015
  2. Wow, you really have to be a special kind of tough to enjoy life on the road this way. I lack such toughness and admire it. Where in the world do you get internet connections to share these beautiful photos of such remote places?

    July 1, 2015
    • I’m not “on the road” any more Lori. I wasn’t tough enough either! I just head off into the hills as often as possible. And you’re right, getting reliable internet was a huge problem when I was trying to live and work from my camper. But I’m glad I gave it a shot.

      August 10, 2015
  3. This is stunning, Nancy. Your words, your photos. You have filled me with that magical ache of hiraeth. Thank you for sharing these moments with us.

    June 21, 2015
    • You’re right; it is an ache and it can be overwhelming. But I feel fortunate too that I feel such longing. Thank you Julie Christine, I appreciate your words.

      June 22, 2015
  4. John loved them Nance, his words, they are awesome my sister is very talented, i miss it so much, well done sis ,, love John, xxx

    June 21, 2015
    • Oh John, I didn’t mean to make you so nostalgic for home. You too had those same early morning walks up the Sandy Road or The Glen for the cows, Dad sometimes peeling an orange as we walked. Let’s do it again next time you’re back. Don’t leave it much longer. Lots of love xx

      June 21, 2015
  5. So, Nancy, clearly you are a genius with words!! I’m not sure if you are aiming for such evocation but in my case I cannot help but be very moved by so much that you write and this post certainly hits home. Wishing you well.

    June 21, 2015
    • Thanks Scott, you’re very generous. All’s well but my feet are itching to be walking more. How about you? Email me with your news when you get time x

      June 21, 2015
  6. What a glorious morning hike out! We could feel the beauty and quiet through your words:)

    June 21, 2015
    • The peace of the place will remain with me for a very long time.

      June 21, 2015
  7. Thanks for a very poetic and evocative account of a morning walk in what looks to be a starkly beautiful countryside. I am feeling this need to visit Scotland again!

    June 20, 2015

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