Sunday morning we were off by 07.30 heading north back over the Pennines, up to Glasgow, by Loch Lomond and on to Rannoch Moor and Glencoe. We made loch lomond by lunchtime, found a layby to brew up in and have lunch.
This was the beginning of the serious Oooo-Aaaaah time!
The mountains are completely amazing! So are the moors … dark, wild, full of wyrd, a place of the Old Ones, the ancient gods, the ones from far before the later gods we know now, the time of even before Math ap Mathonwy, the times of Beli Mawr, Beli the Great, who I know through the Sun.
Crossing Rannoch Moor that afternoon, heading for the King’s House, we passed through dark lands full of water and peat bog, not an easy place to walk if we had had to but one that would swallow you whole without a second glance. Some folk would be terrified but really want the chance to walk there – with due care, attention and a map! To sleep out in that ancient land, in the hand of the gods, to wake in the night and again at dawn, to know them. To truly know the Old Ones you must go out there, into their land, away from the comforts of modern life and give yourself to them even if you are terrified. I couldn’t do that fully but I got a good chance for it later on.
We stopped at The King’s House, a very old hostelry that does excellent food. As we drew up we saw the deer … the Queen and the King along with some youngsters were there right in front of the Inn. We ate an excellent venison casserole followed by a Scottish version of Eaton Mess made with raspberries and single malt; I like it better than Eaton Mess, it’s less sweet and the whisky gives a nice bite.
After such a deer-full welcome I thought I would likely dream of Deer, of Elen, and to some extent I did but over, above and behind all was a huge ancient one, like an Ice Giant, an Ettin, whose antlered head peered over the mountain top and called me. I woke and went outside. The new moon was setting over the mountains where we were parked at the head of Glencoe; the stars gave so much light, and the mountains called … called, called.
It’s strange, the mountains are huge but they look so close, as if I could just run up them in ten minutes! the temptation was so strong, I began to walk the path that led to the mountain. I went about fifty yards before I forced myself to stop, stood there. The feel of the call is like that of a lover … a lover with antlers, great, ancient and beautiful.
At the time I didn’t think of Beli Mawr and, in that land, he would not carry that name. Ogma the Honey-tongued, the sun-faced, came to mind, I must talk with him but he only hinted his presence to me that night. I stood awhile feeling the strength, love, presence of the Old One, feeling it wash over and through me, it was wonderful.
After what seemed like forever and yet no time at all I came back to the everyday world – if you can call Glencoe that! I blinked, blinked again, shook my head. “Thank you,” I told the Old One. He gave me a nod and a smile, let me go back to the Kite Waggon and to sleep.
Dawn, we were up for it, coloured the mountains and the sky. We stopped a wee while to give thanks for the dreams and journeys we’d both had that night. The sun slithered upwards, the colours transformed land and sky.
The Ettins shifted shape before our eyes.
We drove through Glencoe and out the other side up to Ben Nevis to pay our respects to the Commando Memorial a mile from Spean village.
Our tallest mountain is wonderfully impressive. It’s not the same as the Ettins of Rannoch and Glencoe. Glencoe is some 470 million years old; Ben Nevis is igneous rock of about 400 million years ago. It feels as if that 70 million years is much more than just Earthly years … perhaps that’s when the Ettins changed to the gods we feel we know better?
We went up the Great Glen the rest of the day – the great crack in the world. It feels as if the crack which is Loch Ness goes down to the very centre of the Earth. Manawyddan’s water horses undoubtedly live there but we didn’t see them that day. The journey took us through Invermoriston … there are waterfalls and lovely walk in the woods. It refreshed us.
We went on to spend the night at Dornoch, time for a shower and using the laundry :-).