Up the Hill and Down to the Loch
It sounds so simple--up the hill and down to the loch. And if you balance effort as a ratio of pleasure gained, then it was easy. It was already later than we had expected to be starting and our first proposed walk site was not available, so walking up to the Betty Hill fort (or broch?) was already a compromise with a lateish start, but turned out to be a rare treasure of late summer flowers, thriving juniper, and heather near its peak of colour.
We parked the car at a bend in the road next to an old iron bridge that is passable--just--by a single car. Not even a sheep--of which there are many on the roads up here--is foolish enough to linger there. We crossed quickly as if the bridge troll might get us and walked along the shingly gravel beach beside the meandering Naver river. Sheep munched contentedly on the nearby grass, the tide was coming in, a cock was crowing and a dog was barking. Within a few steps, the sounds were blanketed and obscured. As we climbed; the silence of a still late summer day welcomed us into it.
The objective, as much as our walks ever really have an objective, was the so-called hill fort behind Betty Hill. As usual, I was following along content with wherever the path took us. We joked a bit about anything except bracken, which had dogged our steps on the last walk, as we found eyebright and fairy foxglove.
We followed the sheep's tracks up the first hill, often stopping just to catch our breath or breathe in the soft air and quiet. We both had thought the occasional rustling we heard was water from a burn making its way down the hill. On one of these listening stops, however, we sussed that the sound was the rustling of leaves from an aspen growing triumphantly, incongruously out of what appeared to be solid stone.
After our conversation with the aspen, we climbed further upward--not even the sheep had left a path here. Traces of wildflowers remained, but the vegetation was getting thinner, with juniper hugging the ground. And at the very top of the hill are these remains of a hill fort or broch. The wall has been obviously rebuilt--the convention for amateurs and archaeologists to make any new construction clearly different from the original work.
Here the loudest sound was that of the bees hard at work on the heather. The warm sun filled the air with the mixed scent of juniper and heather. We were reluctant to leave but by now it was getting late and we still had to climb back over the hill.
Each walk we take, like each year's Christmas tree, is the best ever--until the next one--but I suspect this walk will be hard to beat.