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Scottish Highlands Field Trip with Tribe Red Leaf

March 15, 2018

A Scottish Highlands Field Trip with Tribe Red Leaf.

Scottish Highlands Field Trip with Tribe Red Leaf

The Scottish Highlands is a place that has a special dwelling in our hearts, we spent our 1st wedding anniversary out there and have lots of wonderful memories from our time there.

We had been through a personally challenging year and when the opportunity arose to go on road-trip back to the Scottish Highlands, courtesy of Tribe Red Leaf, we jumped at the chance. We had all sorts of plans to travel along the coastal route NC500 and wild camp in a VW van, soak up the starts after a dram, roast marshmallows on the camp fire, but we had to take this trip in either November or December (I know, with our weather!), so it didn’t quite go as planned…

Off we went, along with our good friend and fellow photography buddy Jacqui Dunbar (who actually organised the whole thing).  The first day we arrived in Edinburgh and spent the night by Glencoe, we woke up on the second day of our trip ready for our travels ahead and what we found was ourselves in the midst of extreme weather conditions!  Inches of snow had fallen overnight and it continued throughout the day, and it became a great battle of driving through extreme snow-storms.

We had a couple of near-crashes due to the roads completely filled with snow and having to dodge other drivers that came gliding full-steam ahead towards us, but luckily we managed to avoid any collisions (driving skills!).

Unfortunately the weather did end up holding us back in terms of the routes we wanted to travel, the transportation we had to take, and where we spent our nights (in a big dome aka freezing cold and damp tent in the middle of nowhere). We had no electricity so our phones were flat, and the wifi /signals were pretty non-existent most of the time. So we abandoned our initial plan and decided to take each day as it came anew.

We had to quickly accept that the trip would no longer be about hiking in the Scottish Highlands for hours and hours to get amazing photos (partly because the blizzards washed most of the landscape out and it was impossible to walk in let alone hike), although the mountains did look pretty spectacular covered in snow when the storm passed and gave us brief clearing before another one came (road-side views of course).

We had very long dark and damp afternoon/evenings, but they thankfully consisted of a log burner, a bottle a whisky and the company of each-other.  The local pub was also closed and the areas we stayed at were pretty desolate in general. But it gave us time to reflect. And the reality was that despite the harsh conditions and disappointments we were happy, happy to have each other’s company and we started seeing it as an adventure, a journey, that we were able to embrace and experience together (what other option was there?!).

We went to wherever was reachable which meant going to some of the same places we had visited on our 1st wedding anniversary.  It was nice to be able to re-visit the places where we had made so many happy memories (although they looked vastly different compared to the Summer time).

Towards the end of the trip we travelled through the Cairngorms (which is really magnificent and quite spectacular), and a place that we had planned to visit initially (hurrah!).

We learned it was also a place where Jacqui spent a lot of her childhood and it was warming to hear of Jacqui’s joyful childhood memories which were held in such a majestic place.

Our Scottish Highlands field trip was a journey of nostalgia; re-visiting earlier memories in the places where we all held a bit of history of our own, as well as making new memories, and reflecting on the events that had taken place in-between. It became a trip of reflection, healing and an appreciation of our own resilience and strength…

If we were to do it all again? We would book a cottage in Inverness with hot water, electricity and heating!

Thanks to Tribe Red Leaf for the experience!

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