Wednesday, October 17, 2012

In the "footsteps" of Scott, but not to Antarctica...

Layers of "weather" - 
the sun breaks through the heavy overcast on Glen Prosen.
Back in the town of Forfar, for a short stint at St. Margaret's Parish Church, we are rediscovering the outstanding and varied beauty of the county of Angus, known as the birthplace of Scotland.

The explorer and adventurer, Robert Falcon Scott, loved this area. He must have walked often on these same paths as he thought deeply about his two expeditions to the South Pole in the early part of the last century. The dramatic views over the hills and valleys of Glen Prosen would have soothed his spirit in the face of the incredible odds he knew he would face in the completely unforgiving environment of Antarctica. His second expedition, exactly one century ago this year, in 1912, would be his last. Having reached the South Pole, he and his four companions died on the Ross Ice Shelf on the return trek - victims of brutally cold weather, extreme fatigue, and starvation.

The trail to the Airlie Monument through a pine and larch forest.
It was just last year when we were here in Scotland, that we received the news of my mother's passing from a very close friend. For mum, it was admittedly a blessing. At ninety three, she had lived well and enjoyed many great adventures. In the past several years, however, she had suffered all too much. As for us, we would miss her very, very much. With wonderful memories flooding our minds, we knew we had to get some "elevation".

We headed to Glen Prosen, and the trail to the Airlie Monument and beyond, through the rough fields of heather, the sheep, and the forested slopes.

The Airlie Monument.
A couple of days ago, we retraced those same steps that we had taken last year. The elevation gain in "metres" is not overly significant here, but any hill walk promises a "summit" experience - for heart and soul. For us, on that day last year, it was healing. I could well imagine Scott in this very place, taking in the same vistas...pondering what was to come at the bottom of the world, bracing himself for the unknown in the months to come. I could also imagine the ancient and mighty Picts, who left their legacy on standing stones, intricately carved with pictures of animals and mysterious symbols. They too would have known this place.

The delicate beauty of a most rugged little plant- heather.
Sheep in the fields...closing each gate behind us.
Fence line through the heather.
The sun-dappled landscape.
Near the trailhead, the memorial to Scott and Wilson.
The inscription reads:
Robert Falcon Scott and
Edward Adrian Wilson
who knew this glen. They reached the
South Pole on 17 January, 1912 and
died together on the Great Ice Barrier
March 1912

"For the journey is done and the 
summit attained and the barriers fall"

J.M. Barrie, who wrote Peter Pan, lived nearby, in the little town of Kirriemuir. Peter Pan, of course, was the little boy who could fly and who never grew up. It was my most favourite book as a child. I must admit, flying and never growing up holds great appeal to this very day! Perhaps that is why the feeling that Scott and his good friend and physician Edward Wilson had probably walked this very trail, brought to me such a tangible sense of excitement and vicarious adventure.

Here's to never growing up!


PS And this morning, we awoke to snow, dusting these same hills!


  1. I especially love the first beautiful with the light. I'm all with you on never growing up!
    Sorry to hear about the snow :)

  2. Thanks for that L. Very much like on VI, the light and "layers of weather" continually change, teasing us about what is to come next, rain or sun.. and the snow remained just a "dusting" for now. D.