The Angry Corrie 38: Aug-Sep 98

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Tolsta

Out of the side door of the crofthouse we go, me and my granda, the one who said the interminable long Gaelic prayers at dinner times while your soup got cold. Out we went in our wellie boots and through the metal gate with the clanky side bolt action. Down the heathery drop from the house to the road, past the well with its wooden cover, over the ditch across to the newly "macadamed" road, over the ditch on the other side, and then we were there: the path up the Ben.

The path to the Ben is not a path, it is a myriad of sheep tracks, none of which go to the Ben. (Why don't sheep go to the top?) We carry on over disused peat banks and then, in some more heathery stuff, we pass the beautiful flowers which (until returning later in life) I did not know were so special and now, sadly, so rare.

Hop, jump, skip, squelch, splash, then the firmer ground and the stroll to the top. It is only in later years that I find it a blip in the contours although attributed a "proper" Gaelic title by the OS. But to me, at seven years of age, it is my Everest. Glee when I arrive at the top, and that would be fine and enough until I see the view. It is clear across an icy blue Minch to the hills of Assynt and in particular Suilven looking crystal with a light frosting.

I urge my grandfather to take me to climb those mountains. To me they are an arm's length, but they are a Minch's width away, and even he, with all his seafaring knowledge, cannot sail over in a half hour. So he tells me no, not today, and we go back down the Ben to the croft across the squelchy moor, and a hill dreamer is born.

Iain Cameron

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