Sunday 23 June 2019

A Restorative Walk Up Craigellachie

I haven’t been out much recently. Here’s why.

The last – I was going to say ‘week’ but actually it’s longer than that. Let’s start again. The last ten days have been very frustrating. I’ve had a bad cold, a horrible cold; a stinking headachy, snotty, hacking cough cold; a cold that left me feeling brain dead and exhausted for days. It wasn’t nice. For writing I had to do – deadlines, deadlines – the words were dragged out of me, slowly and painfully. My mind really didn’t want to think, just wanted to be left alone to half-watch DVDs and half-read books. I had to bully myself. 

In the depths of the cold I didn’t care that I wasn’t getting into the hills. I felt too ill. But a slow recovery started me longing to head upwards, to do more than short strolls. As always with illness this period was the most frustrating of all. I felt awake, alert, again but my body was lagging behind. I knew if I pushed myself it would probably just mean a longer recuperation. Patience! Patience!

A short hill walk seemed a good test – nothing too strenuous or committing, a there-and-back route I could abandon easily. Craigellachie beckoned. I had to be in Aviemore anyway so why not wander up this dramatic little hill. Rising directly above Aviemore it’s a craggy wooded hillside. Once on top open moorland stretches out to higher summits.

The ascent is quite short but steep in places. I soon knew how well I could go uphill. Slowly, it turned out. Most of the way winds through lovely birch forest, the leaves still fresh and green. Below the forest swathes of long thick grass, blaeberry and unfurling bracken were dotted with flowers – speedwell, buttercups, tormentil. In one place lovely cranesbill. In a shallow lochan bright yellow iris. But shades of green dominated, soothing and refreshing. 

As the trees faded out the terrain turned to brown, rock-spattered moorland. Looking back down I admired the young trees spreading slowly upwards – pine as well as birch. This is a healthy forest. 

The summit was breezy, the sky dark with clouds. But there was no rain and the air was warm. The cold wetness of recent weeks was fading with my cold. In the distance hills faded into indistinct greyness. It felt good to be high above the world again. 

Descending back into the forest I was coughing and spluttering but I felt mentally renewed. Next week, a longer venture.


  1. Patience indeed.. I was recently in hospital for a few days. Upon arriving home after being discharged, my sack was packed and I was on the train to the Lakes. A low level walk planned between Windermere-Coniston. I got as far as Hawkshead on a glorious day, but that was enough.. "Come on Jay, you were using a summer frame accompanied by a nurse to visit the bathroom four days ago - be patient!" I had to tell myself. I rested the next two days, planning two long distance walks in Italy, eating, rehydrating, being patient. Glad you're feeling better Chris.