Wrapped up warm. It was odd to be here, layered up. Out of place despite the drizzle that dripped down my cheeks and radiated up from the concrete heat. Humidity pressed as close as the crowds that thronged around and I had no umbrella. Stood still, we waited for a sleeper to take us to a different world and out of the city.

The night wound and twisted around us as we rolled North. Flat plains buckled and folded before us until the slopes steepened and we could taste the crisper air; a toy train in a giant’s playground.

Scotland Coastline

Here. A foggit land dwarfed us as we climbed dappled rocks of dark greys and deep browns mapped onto an ocean of green. Our eyes reflected across the clouds that hovered shade over lychen and wove flashes of white into silent tapestry. Shadows recast hills that wandered as slowly as sailing ships as a glint of movement caught my eye. A patch of shade detached galloped alongside a stream. Our nosy eyes pressed up to unopened windows, and they strode out, nodding elegant branches in our direction.

If weather is time, it move slowly here. It built on the horizon and pressed the sky to carry its weight. Loaded, like a gun cocked, it fired down pellets that streaked the sky and blurred our vision. Before long we arrived and I traced my fingers along lakes that interlocked like puddles in spring. I found my wellies just as the clouds left - stretch marks whistling away. Under a blue sky of bright light we put on dark glasses and filled others with bubbles, clinking celebratory cheers.

Kayak Scotland

Braced for brais, and shedding coats for wetsuits and a kayak or three, we headed out to the island. An early morning haze-fire tinted the ocean red. White-topped waves whipped into rolling peaks as we beat to a steady Viking chant. Faces numb, our arms splashed blind as we sawed tight circles: up, twist, down, again. Driving forward moving backward, we eventually sighed a happy defeat and returned under mackerel sky.

Under the next day’s morning sun I followed a pebbled pathway curiously framed by tiger-striped tree trunks that curved above in scattered archways. I was a slow muddle of lost footing, feeling my way through the haggy ground full of hidden holes and slippery moss that threatened to twist ankles with every step. Puddles pretended at being grass and my feet found every one of them as I made my way on muddied hands. No way to tell I was at the top until the trees emptied the land and I stared. I stared out at the mountain; bright as a pinprick of light through a rising sea damp.

Boating scotland

Cold. The sort that steals the air right from your chest with no warning and leaves you gasping. And yet, in time, the water’s freeze became a comfort. I saw this landscape from the base up. A seascape of sorts. Looking up and out, at slopes which began here and towered above. Like a toddler crawling with his body close to the earth, touching limbs to floor and face to dirt. Grounded in water. Spinning in slow circles the world floated past while my numb hands pawed to remain weightless, dancing a paddle.

I felt the cold against my skin and tried not to think of what lay beneath my feet where the water was as vast as it was deep. Blind below as shadows flickered above I held my breath. Gasping for air and warmth and sight, I erupted shivering out. I lifted weary limbs; tired now and back for breakfast.

It was over too soon and we went back where we came. Back here. On the train. Back to earth and grounded again. Past mountains that shrank into skies faded grey, in the distance. All too sudden it was flat and green, not black or grey or speckled with browns that brought my eyes out to the sky in the morning. Shut my eyes and sleep. Return to the place of foggit views and dappled blues. Where cold white-topped waves rippled and danced before the eyes of seals that caught my own and held them; pools of black and staring back.

Wild swimming in Scotland