Misty Track

The pull of the Himalayas, the Alps, high peaks of all the world, I get it. It’s the all-conquering stuff I don’t. Man against nature. A world for wannabe Bears. Grylls that is. What a weird conceit. Imagine telling Basho you’d ‘conquered’ a mountain. A roar of laughter, sake everywhere. Or John Muir. Biting his lip behind that big white beard, eyes twinkling with that something you’ll ever miss. So I’ve never been a Munro Bagger. Too much the mountain as commodity. The hill that brought home the futility was Foinaven. Just short of 3000 feet and, accordingly, bypassed by many. But what a hill! A shatter of quartz in the desolation of peat hag that is Sutherland. There’s appeal in all sizes- no sniggering- you just have to look closer. Hogmanay, my father and I stayed low, headed up Glen Turret to Choinneachain Hill, opposite the Munro of Ben Chonzie, ha! The usual New Year guns spooked the distance, tracks and water pipes and the odd tree to remind you that the 360 moor was once all wooded. It could be dispiriting, this lack of wild. But then I remember- you just have to look closer.

guns on the high moor

tracks of the 4×4
water under ice like eels
the moor a patchwork
an old woman’s melancholy
the black a hide
where the posh boys skulk
braying louder than
the grouse they come to kill.

©Tom McCulloch