17 Sep 2015

led astray by fairies in the trossachs

 Boyfriend and I went to the Trossachs for a couple of days where we saw some very impressive hills and my feet got a lot wetter than I normally like them to be while they're still inside shoes.

Doon Hill, the Fairy Knowe, is a wee hill in Aberfoyle where fairies live, they say. At the top is an old pine tree that is said to be the entrance to fairy land, where the spirit of Reverend Robert Kirk is held captive after he wrote his book The Secret Commonwealth which revealed the secrets of the fairies and caused them to snatch him away. He was found dead in his nightshirt on top of the hill on the 14th May 1692, though whether it was really the fairies or some other perturbed party... who knows.

If you walk around the pine tree seven times your wish will come true. If you walk around it seven times backwards - well, best not do that.

The glade up at the top of the hill is strewn with cloutie ribbons and gifts now. When we arrived there in the drizzling rain we realised maybe we should have brought something, but we didn't even have a coin between us (and Boyfriend could not be persuaded to leave his hat.) Then, on the way down off this really very small hill, we somehow managed to take the wrong path and ended up wandering around in the rain for a good twenty minutes longer than it should have taken us to get back. We were squelching by the time we made it back to the car, and I can only assume we were right in thinking we shouldn't have come empty-handed.
 Back at the van we made a wee robin pal and shared some of our bread with him, and in return he posed very nicely for my camera.

 About halfway up the Duke's Pass is the Lodge, from where you can do a number of walks. We only did the shortest one but it turned out to have a few fun things on the way. These mirror people scared the shit out of me when we first came across them. They're eerie things, like ghosts in the woods. Then we came to a tumbling waterfall over which people occasionally went screaming on a zipwire.

The following day I was to be coaxed up to the summit of Ben A'an which, despite the assurances of Boyfriend ("It's really not that high, not compared to the other hills around here") is actually plenty high enough to make a rather physically feeble young woman in an insubstantial pair of trainers still wet from the day before feel a bit like lying down on a rock to be taken away by a buzzard. To make matters worse, the normal path up to the hill was closed due to tree felling and the diverted route (a) started much further away, and (b) was basically swamp land, or as good as after a season of heavy rain and footfall. It was horrendous to be honest, and my already moist feet were moistened tenfold.

When we did at last emerge onto the dry path, it very quickly turned into a getting-on-for-vertical ascent up some crude stone steps. At ten minute intervals for the duration of this climb, Boyfriend would turn to me cheerfully and say "That's the worst bit done! Nearly there now!" and I, delusional or desperate, willfully ignored the fact that I knew he was lying.

We did eventually make it to the top, which I had to begrudgingly admit was worth the effort. The vast blue plate of Loch Katrine laid out to one side, heather-coated moorland on the other. Boyfriend pointed out to me the horned Cobbler in the distance, with a glint in his eye that told me I'd likely be on top of that at some point in the near future too.

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