North West Scotland is as close to wilderness as it is possible to be in the UK. A land of mountains, water, forests and rough moorland with a fractured coastline of sea lochs and remote peninsulas protected from the full might of the north Atlantic by the double-layered island archipelago of the Hebrides.
A few days here and the normal assumptions about the ease of modern life start to shift. Nothing happens fast. Distances are stretched by the time it takes to navigate the few narrow twisting roads that snake through the area subservient to the topography of mountains and lochs. Here the landscape not the motorists’ convenience takes priority.
Connection with the outside world is momentarily possible as you climb a hill and fleetingly a few bars flicker into life on your phone only for the path to turn a corner or dip back down into the glen and the door on to the outside world is slammed shut. Stopping in one of the few pubs in the area with public Wi-Fi, refugees from the metropolis clamour not for a drink but for the access code, like junkies in jail queuing up for their daily dose of methadone. Once hooked up, they scuttle off into a corner greedily relishing the sudden glut of craved-for connectivity. But after a few days the urgent need to stay in touch with the ubiquity of instantaneous information starts to recede and this land with its different rhythms and altered priorities starts to take hold. [Read more…]