Yesterday, I was in the central Highlands, to go walking with a friend. Specifically we were in the area around An Aghaidh Mhòr (Aviemore). We had a great time, the scenery was fantastic, and the weather was almost unbelievable for February.

I'll be posting quite a few photos from the day's adventures.

This first photo is of Loch Mhùrlaig (Loch Morlich), and was taken about 2 minutes after we parked the car. Bright blue skies, no wind, and -2°C temp.

At the western end of the loch there is an outflow (river) called Luineag. It really caught the low-level sunshine in the morning. Around the edges the water was frozen, but the fast flowing parts were ice free.

Show thread

At the point where we completed our circuit of the loch there was a lovely sandy beach. Judging from the number of footprints in the sand it was a popular place for people to visit.

Tucked into one corner of the beach was a wooden building, which during the tourist season is a centre for wind-surfer and dinghy hire.

After finishing our circuit of the loch we made our way to An Lochan Uaine (the little green lake). You'll just have to believe me that the lochan is vividly green when viewed from the eastern side, as I didn't take a photo from this angle.

From there we continued up Rathad nam Mèirleach (The Thieves' road) to the bothy at Ruighe a’ Bhothain (Ryvoan). We were surprised to find 6 people inside the bothy when we looked inside.

Show thread

One of the things I loved about this area was the profusion of trees.

In particular, I found the shapes of the Scots Pines (giuthas-Albannach - pinus sylvestris) were endlessly fascinating. Every tree had a unique shape. Some were tall and narrow, others were umbrella shaped, and in-between there was every shape imaginable.

Sad as it was to see dead trees, they still added to the landscape. They remained upright, losing their bark and turning silvery.

Show thread

Bothies are small buildings provided for hill walkers to rest during the day, and for overnight accomodation.

@fitheach How do we come by the word 'bothie'?
I think then our ski lodge is a bothie? never locked. open year round. you are welcome to light a fire and use the kitchen. And then there is the moose hut. Maybe that is more of a bothie, but you could live in it for a while.
They are 30km between Terrace and Kitimat. Once, they were vandalized, but the perps outed themselves and did public service to atone.

Derived from the word booth, which in modern English is most commonly used for a small shop or office.

I only happened to know this because I had asked myself the same question in the past.

Booth and bothy became a loan words into Gaelic, where bothag and bùthan have basically the same meanings.

@fitheach I wish you could go to our little ski trails. The lodge has a full kitchen and there's hydro. The moose hut doesn't have anything, but that's kind of the point I suppose. And you have ski out there. Or snowshoe, or walk if it's not snowy.
You know - that other time of year, not winter.

> and there's hydro
Do you mean they have running water or they generate their own power? 😉

Those trails sound enticing, though I'd probably be more interested doing them between spring and autumn (fall).

@fitheach Sorry. We call 'electrical power' 'hydro' here, because nearly all our electricity comes from hydro (dams).
Of course, the trail are available year round.
Just tricky to ski on without snow
Maybe we could put Scots on them in the summer? IDK.

Same here. The dominant local electricity supplier used to be called Scottish Hydro.

That was why my post had a wink at the end.

@fitheach I didn't know that. I did catch the wink, but didn't know what it meant.

I use it to mean "I'm not being serious". Like "nudge, nudge, wink, wink".

@fitheach Me too. I think that's the accepted meaning.
I just didn't know what it meant specifically in that particular case.

@fitheach I just realized, that when I read that in my head I hear 'noodj noodj wink wink', which is not what I would read out loud. Hmm. Nudj. I don't know the proper way to express it. There is a vocabulary for it.

I'm not a skier, I wouldn't fancy doing it in snow. Too much like hard work.

@fitheach You can glide a long way with no work. It's why we do it.
Well. That's why I do it.

Sure. We call that cross-country skiing (as opposed to Alpine or downhill). An effective means of transport when there is snow on the ground, but probably more effort than walking when there isn't any snow.

@fitheach @gemlog

Interesting; I had previously thought it was the other way round (having never heard of bothies other than from friends in more remote bits of Scotland, although apparently they exist in Northern England as well)

Like the etymology of almost all words the travels of booth and bothy are quite complex.

I suspect the word booth (originally buth) was borrowed into Scots. From there Gealic borrowed it. However, the "ie" or "y" addition is a very Scottish thing, to denote something small, similar to using "an" in Gaelic or "chen" in German.


@fitheach The Thieves’ Road is a pretty awesome name.

Originally named as an escape route for those doing cattle lifting. Cows weren't actually lifted. Lifted in the sense of taken away, usually illegally.

In Highland culture stealing cattle was almost considered a sport. If you could do it without the owner knowing about it, then you had proven your prowess. A bit like "Gone in 60 seconds".

@fitheach @tsturm Cattle lifting should be a thing in the Gaelic Games.

Hmmm, I'm not sure. It would make American Football seem like a short & snappy sport.

In antiquity there was a sport included in Highland Games which involved dead cows, but I don't think I should tell you about it.


@fitheach @tsturm You should please tell me about it. Is it horribly earthy?

I think it would be fun to see clan versus clan, some kind of face off whereby they have to compete herding cattle from one base to another and sometimes swing at each other with kendo claymores.

Dead cow sport 

I need to stress this happened in antiquity. Nothing like this happens in modern Highland games.

Like a lot of the Highland games it was a trial of strength. The participants had to pull the legs off a dead cow. No knives or sharp instruments were allowed, only hands. I can imagine that the rear legs would be considerably more difficult.


Dead cow sport 

@fitheach @tsturm Oh, so like tug of war with a corpse? That’s all? I thought it was something like speed eating raw ox innards or such.

I might could have entered that, auld lang syne. I dismantled heaps chickens by hand. We did usually need a knife, though, for the bone and gristle. Nasty work. I have respect for anyone who could do that by hand to a cow.

Poor cow, though.

Dead cow sport 

The cow was past caring.

In the accounts I've read of the sport, the vast majority of the participants failed in their attempts.


Dead cow sport 

@fitheach @tsturm That’s nice. It’s like footie, it teaches humility.

Dead cow sport 

Except for those that manage the feat, they would end up with egos as big as the cows.


Dead cow sport 

@fitheach @tsturm Must have a few Cu Chullains running about to make it a highland affair eh.

Dead cow sport 

Absolutely. In Celtic mythology Cú Chulainn was the main protaganist in the Táin Bó Cúailnge. See up thread for a discussion on the importance of cattle lifting in Highland culture. The culture was the continuation of the myth into relatively recent times.

Cú Chulainn is linked to the island of Skye, where the An Cuiltheann (Cuillins) mountain range is named after him.


Dead cow sport 

@fitheach @tsturm It’s on my list to read the Táin if I can find a good bilingual edition. Know aught?

Dead cow sport 

There are many books/versions of the Táin Bó Cúailnge. I've only got one, so I can't advise on which ones are better.

However, I can recommend that you listen to/buy the Horslips album called "The Táin", which would be great to listen to while reading the book.


@fitheach Nice pictures (the whole thread)! This is my favourite part of Scotland. I also love the Scots pines, so varied in their shapes.

It makes such a difference to see an area like this during some fantastic weather. Even more surprising for February.

@fitheach It definitely is, though I like to be there in any weather.

I have a similar affinity for Glen Affric. I like seeing it in any weather, particularly in snow, but it is good to have seen it many times in sunny weather.

The sad thing is that these kind of trees live to a different time scale to us. If we were to plant any of these trees we would never see them in their mature state.

The Scots Pines in my photos are probably hundreds of years old already.

@fitheach That just makes the work more glorious, to plant for posterity, to believe in a future and make it happen. I’m just chatting, but serious. I wanna plant 10000 trees in Scotland.

Thanks for sharing these outstanding pictures. Looks like you had a great time. Can't wait for the kids to be old enough to go camping around here.

Aye, it was a great day. I can't stress enough how much difference the weather made, both to the enjoyment of the walk and the look of the photos.

@fitheach The reason we don't raise any at the tree farm is that they absolutely refuse to grow in an orderly fashion, which... sounds kind of familiar actually.

Compared to other conifers they are fairly slow growing, too. Not ideal for any commercial enterprise. As part of a plan to re-generate parts of the Caledonian Forest in Glen Affric, they planted Scots Pines in the 1950s. Most of those trees still look fairly immature.

@fitheach Yes. That's the other thing about them; very slow growing.
Well, I've run myself out of banked time now and we're a long way from break up. I'll have to take on something I suppose.
The other day I did less than one hour's work and got paid 4 times what I make at the tree farm, but...
I like this new working outdoors thing.
No woosh of cooling fans. All you hear are birds and squirrels. And the wing beats of ravens and bald eagles...
-9C just now. Pogey? Nah. IDK...

@fitheach It never occurred to me that you would have beaches!

Not far from where I live we have lots of seaside (salt water) beaches. Some of those beaches are among the best in the world.

On a slightly smaller scale are the freshwater sandy beaches to be found at the edge of lochs and lochans.

Attached photo is one of my favourite freshwater beaches at Lochan na h-Earba.

@fitheach I meant on the edge of lochs obviously 😉. Those photos are wonderful.

Sign in to participate in the conversation

The social network of the future: No ads, no corporate surveillance, ethical design, and decentralization! Own your data with Mastodon!