Friday, October 26, 2012

A most exquisite "Brandy"...totally unbottled.

A magnificent kettle...filled with "Brandy".
One of our favourite Scottish hill walks to date leads to the top of and around the craggy and precipitous slopes of Loch Brandy. We hiked the same circuit twice a year ago (in the summer) and had to go back again this time for the breath-taking views of autumn. This loch is a perfect example of a mountain corrie, or what we would call in the Canadian Rockies, a cirque. The word "corrie" has Gaelic origins and describes a kettle or cauldron - and it's a great description. Designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Loch Brandy is also home to a rare dragonfly - clearly, this is one insect with discriminating taste. :)

The trailhead is the parking lot for the Glen Clova Hotel and bunkhouse, truly a destination for hill-walkers, mountaineers, and anyone seeking a quiet and remote alpine venue to just "be".

Leaving the trailhead - it's all uphill, and the vista becomes more and more dramatic with every single step. Having filled the backpacks with additional layers of clothing and rain gear (change happens!), we found ourselves adding and removing layers as the often gusty winds blew the cool, clear air.

Hikers can choose to go as far as the deep, dark, and mysterious waters of the loch itself or continue on up the steep, rocky trail to a vast plateau that affords the most incredible 360 degree views. It's more than worth the extra "heartbeats" to go all the way!

Above the loch, the landscape is vast and wind-blown...
...very wind-blown, this day.
Food, any food, tastes so good when you're outside - a cairn is a great place to stop, refuel, and find in the lee of the pile of rocks, a little shelter from the wind.

Preparing a light lunch by the cairn, high above the Loch.
An ancient writer shared a thought, some 3000 years ago: "The mountains shall bring peace to the people." The perspective from these remote and high places brings clarity, not only to the eye, but to the heart and mind.

Scaled against the heights, depth, and breadth of the vast terrain, it is humbling to be reminded how small we humans truly are. We need to apply this scale to the struggles we have with one another in this world - and decide that there is no problem on this fragile, island planet, that we cannot solve together.

It's a very long way down!
"Mountaintop" experiences foster strength and hope. The effort to get there is always worth it and life is all too short not to seek out such opportunities. In the afterglow of such occasions, nothing seems impossible. We must hold on to that thought...and never let it go.

Layers of clothing removed, reluctantly heading down.
Descending to the trailhead, the shared feeling of exhilaration remained and returned to the valley with us.

Back in the "fold" with the sheep and the glorious autumn colours.
Like the stunning beauty of Loch Brandy, enthusiasm and energy for what is possible must be "unbottled", and freely shared. Perhaps, in this simple posting, it can be set free to touch and enrich others in some small way.

Oh yes, the good strong coffees and delicious, warm scones (each with their own little jar of jam) in the hotel pub is highly recommended - the more "fortified" drink only so long as you don't have to drive the scenic but very narrow road with countless blind corners. And then, of course, there are the rabbits, pheasants, and occasional sheep that are determined to share the road - with absolutely no apparent regard for their own safety!

This was one stiff shot of Brandy that was good for body, mind, and spirit. No "snifter" required. :)



  1. Absolutely lovely! So glad you got great weather for this walk :o)

    Kind regards

  2. Thank you for that, Ian. It was, indeed, a perfect day to be out. A swirling snow squall is currently passing through Forfar. On the road to Inverness tomorrow - so hoping weather and roads are clear. Ah, but it's all part of the adventure. :) Duncan.

  3. Beautiful post D,
    I love the pictures and the message. We all need those mountain top experiences to remind us of all that is possible in this world. Such great adventures you and Joan are experiencing over there!

  4. Glad they connected, L. You'd love these hills - all view, all the time. :) D.

  5. Hi Duncan and Joan,
    I'm so pleased you're getting out in the hills as much and you're certainly showing Scotland at it's best with your wonderful photos. I'm really sorry to have missed you, but was delighted you popped in to see me. I don't know how long you're here for, but have a fantastic time for the rest of your holidays.


  6. Hi Sarah,

    We weren't far away and it was fun to drop by - sorry we missed you and hope your time away was great. We may be back your way and if so, we'll call again. In the meantime, what a wonderful place to pursue endless forms of self-propelled sport! :) Cheers and warm wishes. Duncan.