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Glen Affric, South Loch Ness (Credit: Visit Inverness Loch Ness)

Affric Winter Walk

By Roderick Lightbody

...I realised that there was complete and utter silence, not a sound to be heard- a universal stillness- suddenly I was the only person in the world.

About 500 feet below me I saw the start of the great Caledonian Pine forest of Affric covering the hillside right down to the very edge of the loch. It was a stirring sight to see this remnant of a mighty forest that once covered the whole of Scotland still surviving in the shelter of the surrounding mountains of Affric.

I had considered the Caledonian Pine to be one of my favourite trees, ancient, strong, majestic and a natural complement to the rugged landscape. Each tree had an individuality of form, a personality if you like. I digress...better look for shelter instead of wafting eloquent. The snow is starting to get much heavier and the sky getting blacker, it looks like a blizzard is in the offing.

Descending to the upper edge of the forest I found the going slow and tiring due to the depth of the heather and the increasing snowfall on top of the existing layers. The snow was now coming down vertically as though there there was no tomorrow. Huge snowflakes the size of onions and visibility already down to about 100 feet. I was in my element. The whole landscape, or what I could see of it was turning into a gigantic Christmas card. The trees had great heavy clumps of snow piling up on their massive branches and every now and then a large dollop of excess snow would slide off adding to the covering and make the going even tougher.

As I stood surveying the Christmassy scene, the the hairs on the back of my neck stood up as I realised there was something missing...It was not until I stopped and stood for a moment listening I realised that there was complete and utter silence, not a sound to be heard- a universal stillness- suddenly I was the only person in the world. It was so eerie like standing in the middle of a great natural cathedral all alone surrounded by a great white silent wilderness- was I at the North Pole? or was my car was only a mile away in Affric car park?


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