Memories of Rannoch Moor…

The night before last, after my Hot Toddy I fell into bed, tired… As I lay down I felt it start to happen… That familiar ‘pull’… And as I closed my eyes, I felt myself drift… Then rush… Leaving my sleeping body behind…

I ran… And with every step, hundreds of miles passed beneath me… If I was still ‘in’ my body I would have surely lost my stomach… At a dizzying, giddy pace I leapt through the sky, over the ocean until I felt the pull no longer… I knew where I was, and I needed no pull to tell me where I was to go…

My feet touched down on Rannoch Moor… And an old friend awaited me… He wore my sprig of white heather… We talked, we laughed, we cried, he gave me a lesson or two, and shared with me glimpses of the Otherworlds that could only come from someone who had passed over and walked those paths daily… What was shared must surely remain ‘sub rosa’… Just before the Sun broke over the horizon he bid me farewell… Walking away and fading into the Moor once again… I watched the Sun rise alone…

Windswept expanses of peat bogs, sweeping moorland clad with heather, granite tors, and gnarled pines of ancient Caledonian forests make up the Rannoch Moor. The Moor has legend and mystery woven into it’s very soil, and makes for a spot of beguiling beauty in good weather. It’s a world of shimmering lochs, waving grass and purple heather with tree-clad islets and sandy bays. Thousands of enormous rocks, which were torn from the sides of  hills and corries by a giant glacier moving eastwards 20,000 years ago, litter it’s landscape. According to local legend these boulders were thrown there by a pair of Fomorian Giants, that inhabited the area hundreds and hundreds of moons ago…

But The Moor can as easily become an extremely somber stretch of country when shrouded in mist or pelted by rain or snow. The terrible, black storm clouds hanging heavy and threatening overhead can strike fear and terror into the hearts of those who dare brave it’s wilderness. Especially when the lightning and thunder start to crack and boom above, and the only protection you have is a flimsy tent – 4-season or no, it’s not going to help you much now is it?…

It was on such a night that six Witches (four men and two women) made camp for their first night on Rannoch Moor, we were to trek across the wilderness together and spend two nights on the Moor itself. I had been practicing with the group, on and off for a while, but I only really knew two of them very well. I can still remember my eagerness, my timidness, and my fear quite acutely!

The first night we set up camp as the storm rolled in, we watched it come, drawing closer and closer, as we drummed. The sky blackening as we huddled together, a bottle of whisky, Ol’ Rose’s stories & lessons, and each other for warmth and company…

The next day was a complete difference, we woke to the Sun beaming down from above, setting the ‘lochlettes’ a-shimmer, the the curloo-oo‘s of the nearby Curlews drifting on the soft and refreshing breeze. The occasional roar of a rutting Stag echoing across the moor, making a shiver run down my spine and my heart race. The air smelling of the damp ground from the night before. The storm now a distant memory…

We carried on our trek during the day and in the afternoon we set up camp, not wanting the darkness to catch up with us before we had had a chance to prepare properly. After the camp was set, we all went about our assigned tasks in preparing for the rite at hand. Mine was to collect water. And so I did from nearby ‘lochlettes’ and streams. As I collected the waters in various jars, I was joined by Karl; a tall fellow with dark eyes and dark wavy hair. He was quiet and reserved, but had a look in his eyes that was well beyond his years; He was only a few years older than myself. We were the youngest of the group. He tucked a sprig of white heather into my hair as we talked and busied ourselves, until it was time to help me carry back my water jars…

I still don’t know where he found that solitary sprig of white heather, I can only remember hues of purple and pink – But from that moment we became fast friends, even death cannot stop our friendship it seems…

As we were about our appointed, prearranged duties Ol’ Rose delegated an extra tidbit here and there to those younger that herself (all of us) until it was time to change. We each washed ourselves down in the nearby stream and ducked into our tents to don our robes… Simple… Plain… Black… Practical… Warming against the chill that would surely join us after the Sun had set below the horizon…

I stood outside my tent and straightened the cord belt at my waist, and watched as the sky faded to twilight… I straightened the sprig of heather in my hair, and fingered the beads at my neck…

Ray, a sprightly man in his fifties – our eldest after Ol’ Rose – called to us that it was time to begin, he called out into the night… Our fires were lit, our forked staff erected, our rings of flour & water made, and our Gods invoked…

Witchery was to happen this night…

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6 responses to “Memories of Rannoch Moor…

  1. Wonderful piece of writing and your images are incredible. This prompted me to hunt for my old piccies of Loch Rannoch and the fairy mountain (Schiehallion). If I find them (I did see them 2 house moves ago), I will scan (they are non-digital) and see if they are worthy of posting on FB. Thanks again for this, its great !
    F/F/F
    Matt

    • I wish I could say I took those wonderful photos, but my own photos of the area are burried somewhere in boxes from my move to the States! 🙂 I would love to see your photos if you can find them! I’ve been meaning to try and find time during trips home to take Jason up to Scotland, if he fell in love with Cornwall, I’m sure he’ll fall in love doubly with Scotland…

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  3. arnoud van gaal

    I found the place of the most beautiful Rannoch Moor by a Dutch folkgroup called Ogham. They make scottish folk and made a most beautiful song about the children of Rannoch Moor, a sort of ghost story. Does anyone know about this legend: the moor knows an ancient forest that is so old because nobody dared to go there. The piece of forest is haunted by ghostchildren. If you hear, feel or touch them, you’ll never get out again and it’ll be the last thing you do.

  4. Pingback: Reddening the Bones… | Crooked & Hidden Ways

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