On a recent muddy hike from Plockton to Carn a’ Bhealaich Mhòir (343m), the weather proved very Scottish: first we were pelted with hailstones, then soaked by heavy rain for several hours, and blasted by wind and snow at the top.
At the top, thankful for Goretex and a flask of hot stuff, I took shelter at the covered entrance to the building up at the transmitter mast and plotted how to take a few shots while the wind howled and the snow spun around us.
I find it difficult to use my camera in the wind and rain – so much faffing around to keep things dry. Since rainless moments that day were rare and brief and the track easy, this time I kept my camera tightly zipped under my waterproof jacket, ready to shoot without too much delay.
Finally a dry moment, although under my waterproof jacket, my lens had become all steamed up. Still, I quite like the enchanted forest effect of this one!
Plenty of old man’s beard around too, indicating an unpolluted environment. Odd. Well, have you ever seen an old man with a green beard?
A final drenching on the return leg, with dry weather arriving once the hike had ended. Typical!
On Skye that day, snow on the Storr meant wearing spikes. I finally gave in and used a walking pole too. Together, they probably spared me a twisted knee or worse, while gaiters stopped the soft snow from soaking my socks.
One of my two fellow-walkers had learned from a local shopkeeper that the Storr was a location for Kurzel’s Macbeth, with filming due to start in a couple of days. The hike promised to be memorable in any case, but with scenes filmed up the Storr, this new Macbeth would surely be all the more meaningful for anyone who’s been there.
On the way up, the three of us met other walkers who’d been forced to turn back, not because they were unfit or because the weather conditions were impossible but because they realised they were ill-prepared. So true that saying that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes!
We three “Weird Sisters” plodded on. From a distance, the Storr had looked like it had a mere dusting of snow here and there. Only en route did we find that the snow was up to our knees, and in some places deeper still.
Those ham and mustard sandwiches tasted good as I stood beneath the pinnacle of the Old Man of Storr, contemplating the legend Kirsty had just told me. The story is that the Old Man and the Old Woman of Storr had been turned to stone because they had looked back while fleeing some hostile force.
Over the years, the Old Woman of Storr had crumbled, scattering into the boulders you see dotted around. Didn’t Lady Macbeth also go to pieces, in spite of an apparently tough exterior? And then “what’s done cannot be undone.” No turning back.
Getting back down the Storr was a bit tricky at times, slippery enough to force me to concentrate on digging my heels into the snowy slope. If I stopped to look back would I too turn to stone?
The views across to snowy Applecross in the distance kept me going. Tomorrow we would be heading on over there.