Albion, ancient sites, Photography, symbolism, travel

Solstice of the Moon: Chasing Memories

A very long time ago now, I had a wonderful job that took me, every weekend, driving around Britain. By the time I reached Scotland, I knew… barring disaster… whether I would have some time to spare before I needed to be back so that I could wander away from the planned route. On a couple of occasions, I had made the time to visit a magical spot I had seen many years before on holiday. That first time, I had only glimpsed it through the trees. On subsequent visits I had explored a little, but I had not felt it prudent, especially as I was technically at work, for a woman alone to go wandering the forest paths too far from the road.

I had never known what the place was called and, in the days before online mapping, it was not so easy to find out. Even so, it was this spot I was hoping to find once more after we had left Loch Ness. The trouble was, I had never approached it from this direction, nor could I recall the road numbers I had used so long ago; memory can be a fickle beast. On the other hand, I have a pretty good memory for roads and places and I was relying on that, and Stuart’s map-reading skills, to find this very special place.

Coming from the opposite direction than usual, and after a decade or so had passed since my last visit, my memories were vague at best, but a signpost for Kinloch Laggan seemed familiar. I remembered a long lake with a castle, perhaps, or a big house on its shores and a small beach. One thing was certain… with the distance that we still had to travel, once committed to a road, there would be no chance to go back and try another… and there are few to choose from in the Scottish Highlands.

We left Loch Ness behind and drove beside Loch Lochy for a while before turning off towards the Cairngorms. The landscape seemed almost familiar as we followed the course of the River Spean… and finally came to another of the great lochs, which Google now tells me is Loch Laggan. There, on the far bank, we saw the big house I had half-remembered and the spit of sand at the end of the loch.

I was trying not to be too excited… many things change over the course of a decade or so. It was entirely possible that this was not the road we needed. Or that the place had changed dramatically. Possible too that the memory of peace and solitude had painted the place I was looking for with a magic that bore little resemblance to reality. But I knew that if this was the right road, we would soon find out…

We drove on. The road seemed completely unfamiliar. I did not recall the village through which we drove, nor the dim tunnel of trees that arched over the road. I resigned myself to disappointment, yet I was loving every second of the long drive through such a beautiful land. Then a curve of road felt right, there was a glimpse of water… I almost missed the layby under the trees… almost, but not quite. I could barely wait to get out of the car… we had found it…

8 thoughts on “Solstice of the Moon: Chasing Memories”

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