Albion, ancient sites, Photography, sacred sites, spirituality, Stuart France and Sue Vincent, symbolism, travel

Solstice of the Moon: Frustration…

Sir Walter Scott called it the “…longest, loneliest and loveliest glen in Scotland…”, but to me, our all-too-brief foray into the outer reaches of Glen Lyon was pure frustration. It has absolutely everything you could possibly imagine or want in a Scottish glen… It also has a road just wide enough for a car in places, there are few places to stop and we had no time in which to explore. Even so, and with the little we were able to see, it is utterly breathtaking in its beauty.

Stuart has become a dab hand at drive-by shooting when there is nowhere to stop for pictures, but even he was unable to capture the scale of the land or the expanse of clear blue arcing above the valley. Trees and lack of a safe parking space prevented us from getting a shot of the white water in the valley as we turned into the glen. With all that road and silence, still inconvenient cars stopped us from stopping where we would have liked and we knew full well that the ancient shrine at the head of the glen was well out of our reach.

Unlike many of these valleys, Glen Lyon is not somewhere you can simply drive through on your way to somewhere else. You need to go on purpose, or perhaps with purpose. It seems to demand a dedication, a commitment from those it draws into its embrace. Later research revealed there are alternative routes out of the glen…one single track road that climbs eighteen hundred feet over Ben Lawers and another, crumbling memory of a track that is almost impassable. Whatever we did, we would have to turn around and go back the way we came. No-one in their right mind would attempt to take my little car up roads like those…would they?

Even so, the glen is compelling. That’s the only word I can think of to describe both the land and the pull of the place. It is hard to discern just what it is about the land that tugs at your heart. Its visible beauty is no greater than many other places. There are castles, chapels and churches in other glens… and while few may have vestiges of ancient forest held close within them, most have a tumbling river at their heart.

Glen Lyon does hold many ancient sites and seems to have been an important place in prehistoric times. There is so much history in this glen. It has been home to saints and holds the ruined chapel of St Brandon and the standing cross of St Adomnán. Many great names that resonate through history have lived here, including Captain Robert Campbell, who led the government troops who massacred the Scots at Glencoe. But there is something more than human history here…

I cannot find the words to express the feeling of the place, save to say that the land seems to be aware, conscious of its own life and the lives within it. We felt we had been called and had responded, even though we had to turn back not far beyond Bridge of Balgie. The only thing I am certain of is that we will have to go back one day… and with much more time…

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