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Issue 57 - Land of history

Scotland Magazine Issue 57
June 2011

 

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Land of history

The Editor contemplates the allure of ancient places

There is always a frisson of excitement the night before leaving for Scotland, and the trip I am about to embark on is no different. There is something satisfying about laying all the kit I need out on the bed and then packing it onto the bike.
I am really looking forward to this trip, just a short hop up to Glasgow, then to Aberfoyle to meet up with the team I will be climbing with for the Bowmore Ben Nevis Challenge.
The event, supporting Capability Scotland, Scotland’s best known disability organisation, will see teams of disabled and non-disabled people work together to take on the challenge of scaling the UK’s highest peak.
I know sometimes I keep going on about being in the great outdoors, but I think that the way today's world is going there is a real lure in exploring the hills and glens.
For me, there is a pull of ancient places. Sure England has got some excellent Neolithic sites like Silbury Hill, Avebury and Stonehenge, but, especially with the 'Henge, you cannot really get up close enough to really feel their power.
Two of my favourite places to visit are the Rings of Brodgar and Masehowe on Orkney. Here you can wander among the stones, touch and feel their weather beaten faces and contemplate your place in the grand scheme of things.
The harshness of life our ancestors must have faced there is tangible, especially if you are there in the autumn or winter. We may be far removed from it today with all our technology, but strip back these modern trappings and I think there are still vestiges of this old way of life buried in us all. What else explains the feeling of belonging when you stand in places like this?
Then, stepping closer to the modern day, there is the magnificent desolation of Glen Coe and the enduring sadness of Culloden moor. The events that happened here and the blood spilt still linger. The ghosts of the dead can be felt in the morning mists and most keenly during the winter, staining the atmosphere during the dark days.
Of course all this is tempered by modern Scotland where you can find some of the best pubs, restaurants and places to stay. Speaking of which I think I have a new home from home: the recent boutique hotel development of the AA club in Blythswood Square in Glasgow. An oasis of luxury to soothe the woes of long distance travel.