Cairngorms, part three

26 Sep

Friday. Tarf Hotel. A rest day.

I’d been looking forward to peace and quiet and there was lots of it to be had here. The only sounds were the wind outside and a red grouse clucking away every now and then. I slept for twelve hours solid. Someone had left a couple of sheets of carpet underlay, which made for a comfy mattress. It was such a pleasure to be able to rise from my cocoon whenever I liked, make a cup of tea and read, then maybe have a snooze or two in the daytime. I read a lot. Finished Seraphita by Balzac and read half of Man’s Fate by André Malraux. Some would find it eerie to spend so long a time alone in a hut, on a moor, knowing that at any time, anybody could come along, and I can understand that, although I don’t feel it myself. Axe murderers and crazed rapists tend not to go backpacking: it’s mainly sensible, middle-aged, middle-class types. Having said that, one of my snoozes featured a dream in which the place was surrounded by marquees, helicopters and trucks and that the place I wanted to sunbathe had been turned into a car park. It was tricky knowing whether I was awake or still in the dream, maybe because time spent in such places doesn’t easily dissolve into the stuff everyday life is made of.

And that was my second full day in the Highlands. No stimuli at all outside of a stove, sleeping bag and a couple of books. Lovely.


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