Just got back from two weeks Up North, mostly in the Highlands. As Timothy Cavendish says in Cloud Atlas, ‘There is a whole country up here.’ Husband and I have not been as enamoured of a country since Italy.
I’m supposed to be busy doing other stuff at the moment, so instead of presenting a day-by-day account, here’s one of them trendy listicles structured around an arbitrary number. Like (500 Miles), just take ’25’ to mean infinity and beyond…
25 REASONS WHY I LOVE SCOTLAND
1. Catching the same flight as Tilda Swinton from London Gatwick to Inverness. Yes, easyJet is good enough for The Swinton.
2. Locals and their hobbies.
3. The view from our B&B in Kylesku, the fishing village in Sutherland where we were based during our weeklong hiking trip with Wilderness Scotland.
4. Stag party.
5. A full Scottish breakfast (with haggis).
6. Spotting cities of puffins and skuas on the shores of Handa Island, a nature reserve that is privately owned but managed by Scottish Wildlife Trust.
7. Seeing sea anemone.
8. Cape Wrath, the north-westernmost point of the island of Britain, accessible only by a ferry run by a notoriously mercurial boatman, followed by a bus ride on some of the worst-maintained public roads in the kingdom. The area is a live firing range for the military.
9. It also has a 19th-century lighthouse.
10. ‘There can be only one.’
11. Bagging our first Munro (a Scottish peak over 3,000ft).
12. Gigs at the pub.
13. Long bridges over sea lochs.
14. Highland traffic jams.
15. Going to the Talisker whisky distillery and learning that Scotland is as far north as parts of Alaska.
16. On a three-day kayaking trip with Sea to Skye, I learnt that some jellyfish are not dangerous and can in fact be used in ‘jellyfish fights’.
17. Also spotted the enormous corpse of a Lion’s Mane jellyfish.
18. Sheep grazing in a river valley.
19. Kayaking amongst the seals off Plockton.
20. The water is so still and reflective in the sea lochs (we were lucky) that it is like kayaking into the sky.
21. The exorbitant fine for public drinking in Kyle of Lochalsh.
22. Down in Edinburgh, it’s like stepping into my childhood idealisation of Europe, all beautiful old buildings and fog.
23. A view from Arthur’s Seat.
24. I have my own Cloud Atlas (movie) moment at the Scott Monument.
25. Whatever happens on September 18, 2014, I know Scotland will remain a great country. We can’t wait to return.