Wednesday, 28 September 2011
This morning I set out to explore the Insh Marshes, because they caught my eye as I passed them on the road yesterday. An information panel in the car park explains that they are a nature reserve covering a large floodplain, and also an RSPB bird sanctuary.
The weather turned sunny and all at once unusually warm at twenty-two degrees Celsius. I am the only wanderer on the trail and greatly enjoy this light, marshy woodland. It strikes me as a landscape I have wanted to meet all my life without knowing it, and I find myself walking more slowly today as I breathe more deeply, stand still to listen more often, and look around for longer.
Many of these trees wear thick pelts of lichen. Aspen leaves whisper in the wind and scores of little birds sing in the branches. I see dragonflies hunting and damselflies coupling in the feverish heat of a marshy dell. A large, glossy frog sits on the path, watching me, and a roe deer is hiding in dense bracken by the wayside. Mushrooms are everywhere, their caps bright buttons of colour: saffron, chestnut, crimson, plum and oyster, in all the autumnal stages of burgeoning and decay.
It is indescribably lovely to be here as a solitary, silent witness of this celebration of the season, and once again I feel immersed in my proper element in this dreamlike wandering and the quiet observation of nature; becoming ever more conscious of what it is I am hoping to find on this journey.
A path leads down to a hide for birdwatchers in the reeds. I pay a brief visit and look out at the wide marsh, but the wildlife, as usual, has a pressing engagement elsewhere.
Then I wander on through old pine forests, carpeted with thick moss. The warm resin scent of a sun-filled pine wood has to be one of my favourite smells and makes me want to fill my lungs to capacity with its fragrance. This would be my perfume of choice, if only it could be bottled!
Now the soft, mossy path tempts me to remove my shoes and to walk barefoot for a while in absolute bliss, and it occurs to me that I am reconnecting with the chief delights of my childhood here. At this rate, I shall soon be climbing trees again …
After a walk of about three hours, I drive over to the Rothiemurchus Estate Centre to have lunch. At an outside table in the warm sunshine I enjoy venison sausages, produced by the estate, with mash and red onion gravy – all absolutely delicious!
Finally, I wander a path along the idyllic shore of Loch an’ Eilein for another hour, in yet more heartlifting serenity, beauty and peace. This stunning place is very quiet now, but must be bustling with crowds – and midges – in the summer months …
Read more in ‘Reports from the Road’, a tale for explorers of Great Britain – solo or not. Clicking on the cover will take you there:
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“While reading this wonderful account of the author’s rambles around Britain, I could envision what she was seeing and experience her days along with her. I felt her gaining strength day by day as she walked further and further. And felt her frustration when she had trouble finding a place to sleep some evenings. If you enjoy travelogues, this little volume is for you! And if you travel alone there are hints on what to do, and what not to do.” – J. Fender, US
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