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Scottish Stories

17 January 201810:16AMviking-raidtravel

1. Stay Close

They call this the Fairy Glen.

strangely shaped hills, a winding path, clusters of trees

I like to think I'm a pretty rational person. I don't believe in ghosts or demons or the Loch Ness Monster. Which is why I was surprised to find myself thinking, "Hmm, we should stay close together" as we walked around. "Because this is the kind of place where people might disappear."

Not, like, a conscious thought. More of a gut feeling. Probably from bathing in an endless stream of standard fantasy and generic western folklore which teaches us above all else to stay out of the woods.

a path through the trees

We'd joked about leaving shortbread out for the fairies when we arrived but I suddenly found myself wishing we had.

The risk of becoming another set of footprints which goes one way and never comes out, of turning around and finding myself somewhere else, of being just another group of tourists who vanished without a trace... suddenly seemed very real. At least to the deep, old parts of my brain where the stories live.

2. Here Be Dragons

We'd been hiking along a river for about half an hour when we reached the first waterfall, tumbling gently into a crystal clear green pool. It was beatiful. And over the next half an hour of hiking, they only got more and more dramatic. These were the Fairy Pools, hidden beyond roadworks, guarded by sheep and swept by wind.

cascading waterfalls

But this time, it wasn't something subtle and mysterious that tickled my narrative instincts. It was the track we were standing on. It continued past the pools along the river the honest-to-god Mountain Pass behind them.

a mountain pass shrouded in cloud

The path that lay ahead of us was treacherous and filled with danger. It leads through the wild places to the unknown. To cross it requires great skill and greater determination, and only the most foolhardy or desparate travellers even make the attempt.

Naturally, we turned around and went the other way.

3. The Lodge

It had been a long day of driving.

The lodge on Loch Lochie had everything you could want from a hotel in the Scottish Highlands. It had a crackling fireplace and a well-stocked bar. It served haggis and black pudding for breakfast. It had tartan carpets.

whisky by the fireplace

It also had taxidermied animals on the walls. It had mysterious sounds in the roof, and mysterious-accented Eastern European staff who insisted it was just the wind. It had at least one madman running around in a kilt. It had tartan carpets.

stuffed animals by the staircase

It walked - nay, it highland danced the line between cozy and creepy. Everything you could want from a hotel in the Scottish Highlands.

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