Might and Majesty

Eileen Donan Castle

Eileen Donan Castle

 

The sheer size of the rugged mountains in the Scottish Highlands immediately makes us feel like tiny ants. Endless miles of empty inhospitable landscapes, rolling out into the distance, forces the dawning realisation that we are small and insignificant. Tiny passing moments in the big sweep of this ancient place.

The roads wrap around the edges of lochs and glens like fragile threads barely connecting the tiny fragile pockets of human life, huddled in the soft warm glens. The emptiness begins to soak deeply into your bones, and then just as you begin to feel utterly alone, a majestic stone castle seems to have grown from the rocks. The ancient stones match the surroundings, showing signs of extreme weathering in salt, wind and snow. Walls which have sheltered many lives in this harsh environment.

The Five Sisters of Kintail

The Five Sisters of Kintail

 

These Five Sisters have towered over the head of Loch Duich for millenia. Their heads are dusted in snow, like sweet icing sugar, but the sharp angles of their bones speak of cruelty and death. The safe way through is via the cattle pass, trodden into the hard earth by thousands of hooves clinging to the lower slopes, on their way to markets in the distant south.

Loch Duich

Loch Duich

There is another way over the mountains into the soft isolated glen of brochs and otters of the Knoydart peninsula. It’s a military road, built by the might of Royal will, forcing its way in hair-raising bends and inclines. It brought soldiers marching into this wild area, breaching the protection of the high mountains, suppressing a previously free people. It paid no heed to natures trails, and has left us with an astonishing route through the hills.

Road to Glen Elg

Road to Glen Elg

The sides of the glen take on a warm golden hue as you curl down into the protection of the valley. The air warms and life feels less on a razors edge as the earth extends her protection once more.

Nike - Goddess of Victory

Nike – Goddess of Victory

The surprising majesty of Nike, towers up into the vast and empty sky of the Sound of Sleat. Victorious she gathers the fallen heroes of this patch of earth beneath her protective wings. These soldiers veins were filled with highland blood, spilled on a foreign field thousands of miles from home. But Nike will return them here and let them rest in peace on the soft earth where they were born.

Memorial - Sound of Sleat

War Memorial – Sound of Sleat

The scale of the landscape drops back down to human sized, and warm sunshine fills this sheltered spot.

Icelandic Horses at home

Icelandic Horses at home

Life feels slow and safe, comforted by natures soft walls and roof. Ancestors of these horses may have sheltered in these trees in the distant past, filling the air with a timeless feel.

Glen Elg Broch

Glen Elg Broch

Our ancestors certainly sheltered in these stone walls, still standing majestic and awe-inspiring after all those millenia. The bones of the surrounding hills, shaped into a protective circle, by hands long since buried. The sense of safety and stability flows through the place, and you can almost imagine the sounds of footsteps running for protection from invading hoards from the sea. Safe within these walls people survived and life endured in this glen, with nature providing everything which was needed. History waves from the shadows, full of unspoken tales, and we feel our true size surrounded by all this might and majesty. One small life in this vast rolling landscape. Our unimportance releases and frees us into the common pool of shared humanity, deep within the mountains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About greenmackenzie

Hi, I'm Seonaid, and I share my home with my husband, my son and a collection of cats and dogs. I am forever snapping shots of things which catch my eye. I love art which is here now and gone tomorrow...like food and nature...but also have a passion for vintage and the ancient past! Nature is my favourite muse, with her wild ever shifting seasons. I have been using and teaching mindfulness and relaxation for over 12 years, and have yet to become any sort of expert :-) I'm a Psychotherapist, and run the Maggies Highlands Cancer Centre, in Inverness, Scotland.
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38 Responses to Might and Majesty

  1. tree girl says:

    The photos of the landscapes look like paintings.

    Looking at that castle I wondered if it was the one in the movie Snow White & The Huntsman. And it is.

    You live in a most amazing, diverse, and beautiful place

  2. Frances Gibbs says:

    Loved this blog about the highlands and the Brouche. I am also very interested in acient history and have been for many years and the Brouche wer fascinating to say the least. Scotlands looks the most wonderful place and would truely love to visit someday, hopefully not too distant future getting old now and time running out, but the internet has given me the media to see all I cannot not get to. I am also interested in Spiritaual mystery and in and aroun the Scottish Isles you have some wonderful standing stones and ancient sites. Again thans to u tube able to visit in a way.
    Frances Gibbs

    • Frances it’s lovely to meet you, isn’t it wonderful the way we can connect across such vast distances with technology ๐Ÿ™‚
      I have a whole series of shots I took of this broch, or brouche, which I must get round to posting. I love to visit very ancient sites, it’s as though if we listen hard enough we can hear echoes from the past ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. shazza91321 says:

    This is beautiful I want to go to there!!!! LOL

  4. ginnietom says:

    fantastic shots…

  5. Fergiemoto says:

    Stunning photos, especially the first one!

  6. ladyfi says:

    Wow wow wow – stunning shots! The first one is pure magic.

    • Thanks so much Lady Fi, I was glad to have to chance to stop again and take a photo at a different time of day. It’s better lit in this photo than the one in my earlier post, so it’s less silhouetted, and I like the deep blue of the sky and sea around midday.

  7. Paula says:

    Seonaid, these photos and description makes me even more eager to visit Scotland some time soon.

  8. Another stunning reminder why Scotland is on my travel bucket list.

    • Happy to help Kat. We were so lucky to have all that sunshine. It’s been so dry up in the North West of Scotland this year that they are having problems with wildfires. We saw several while we were up there.

  9. Your stories are such fun, thank you.

  10. Amy says:

    Beautiful narrative and photos! The five sisters are gorgeous.

  11. Seonaid, you must be pulling our legs – there can’t be such clouds, and so few of them, over that terrain for so long ๐Ÿ˜‰ Your photos are really too charming to be true. Admit having used photoshop, heavily!

    • Lol, no photoshop involved! This was in fact one of the cloudiest days of our whole trip. Blue skies and sunshine all the way.
      I have processed the photos using an app called snapseed, but the clouds are real ๐Ÿ™‚ This set of photos were all taken between Plockton and Glen Elg last Sunday, and it really is as charming as it looks…better actually than the photos can show! The mountain shots are HDR images, which helps to create the drama and perhaps the charm…

  12. Fantastic landscape and your words make it come even more alive…Brilliantly breathtaking. Thank you!

  13. Beachbums1 says:

    Beautiful photos! I keep adding to the list of what I want to visit in Scotland the next time we go there! Keep them coming…

  14. If I never make it to Scotland I can say that I have, at least, experienced its beauty through these images. Please keep them coming. Any of sheep? D

    • There are plenty more to come, but lets hope you make it over here some day. I’ve got a couple of good shots of sheep which we came across high on the mountains in Skye….they will be posted soon I promise ….in fact I was thinking of you guys while I was out and about and kept looking for good sheep shots, but they were shy of the dogs ๐Ÿ™‚ maybe I’ll do a sheep post just for you two

  15. Opalla says:

    You writing and you photos truly capture the imagination.

  16. Mjollnir says:

    Lovely, evocative post and wonderful photos. One minor complaint – Eilean, not Eileen (much to the disappointment of Dexy’s midnight Runners!). ๐Ÿ™‚

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