There’s a popular Scottish song that tells of the travelling people who leave their stationary winter quarters to set off on the road “when the yellow’s on the broom” at this time of year.
“We’ll meet up wi’ oor kinfolk
From a’ the country roon’
When the ganaboot folk tak’ the road
And the yellow’s on the broom”
I didn’t walk past any broom today, but for mile after dazzling mile the yellow was thick and heavily scented on the gorse; weak lemony pale on the daffodils; and the dandelions shone brightly, luring in the bees and butterflies from miles around. It was one long Mellow Yellow Scottish spring day.
I should have been working, of course. Or packing for The Big Move later in the week. Or cleaning. Or researching. But the sun was forcing its brightness around the black-out blinds when I opened my eyes this morning, and I couldn’t resist. I’ve been following Trepidatious Traveller Maggie’s adventures (http://magwood.me ) on her latest Spanish Camino these last few days and have been itching to get on the road myself, so on a whim I abandoned the world of work and set off on the first 12 miles of the long-distance West Highland Way.
And it all came rushing back: the satisfying crunch of boots on gravel; a pack strapped to my back; the adventure of the open road; sun shadows, random encounters and conversations with strangers. I hummed the Yellow on the Broom tune as I walked towards the hills and reflected on my own nomadic experiences these past three years.
The rootless chapter of my recent life will close this week when I get the keys for my little fisherman’s house by the sea. The wandering years opened my eyes but I need a home again. Even when the countryside is yellow.
It’s misty and moody and I just can’t stay away.
Scotland’s west coast has been calling me this summer and I’m no sooner away than I’m back. I’ve walked through showers and downpours then wakened in the tent to pools of water in the “porch” and a wee cowerin’ beastie (not a rat or mouse or vole – so what was it?) nestling under my rucksack. That was a surprise; for both of us.
I follow hill tracks and paths with a head full of Bonny Prince Charlie, clan battles and Highlanders, between mountains and alongside rivers in spate; near Glencoe, Black Mount and onwards to Kingshouse below the Buachaille Etive Mor.
And I’m going back again today. Stob Binnean and Ben More are the big hills that beckon my old walking pal and I. There’s rain forecast, of course, but we’re undaunted.
The West Highland Way is Scotland’s best known long distance path, but nobody seems to have informed the cattle that it’s a right-of-way. Or maybe they were just a bit weary of the endless hikers on a May holiday weekend and decided to stage a protest.
I’m not frightened of cattle (although these girls had a definite glint in their eyes) but I spotted a few folk who preferred to take a huge detour rather than run the gauntlet. Pamplona’s Bull Run would be the Camino’s equivalent, I suppose – although I don’t remember any pilgrims signing up for that either!