I can't--after all the times we've been here--get over the beauty of it. All of Scotland, really, or almost. You're in the most dire industrial park or retail assortment of big box stores, and within fifteen minutes you're away into someplace wild, or into the beautiful patchwork of farmland, there with a visible stone circle up a hill in the middle of the golden field, the Maiden Stone by the side of the road. You just have to open your eyes and there it is: dazzling, all of it rolling past in a tapestry that only ends at the hem of the sea.
Around these parts, Bennachie is the hill to climb, and it's always been on the list of things we wanted to do, but we'd never done it. This was the day to do it: the sun shone in over the trees this morning, and it stayed sunny and fair nearly all the day long, as we had read it would. It took a bit of prying to get everyone with shoes and socks on, snacks packed, a hoodie, water bottles--but we got out, drove to the trailhead, and began.
It's not a hard hike, first of all, but it's not nothing, either, especially with kids, two of whom had not hiked it before. My daughter often hikes it with friends, timing their departure so that they arrive at the top in time to watch the sun rise. We weren't up that early today, of course. But the air was cool as we went, starting where the trees and shade were thick, then ascending above the tree line. The last part is a little bit of a scramble up some stone, through the remains of a Pictish hill fort.
From the top, you can see the farms and the hills around for miles. In the distance, you can see the village and other small towns. We stayed up at the top, though it was windy and cool, because it was also brilliant and spectacular in the etymological sense of the word.
Tomorrow the kids go back to school. Then, the day after, we get on a series of planes to return to our lives and home, and the work awaiting us there. And Bruiser, and the ones we love who live there. As always, it's time to leave, or nearly, and it will be good to be home. But it's the nature of these things: I don't want to leave even so.
|the beginning of the hike|
|up a stone section of the trail.|
|we're alive, dammit! (at the summit)|
|down a dry stone wall.|
|fireweed still a-blooming.|
|later in the day, we went to Findhorn, and the nature reserve there.|
|the tide was out.|
|it was Findhorn Bay, but you could see the way out to sea.|
|at the end of the day.|