Friday, 2 December 2011

Dark Landscape

 I found the Aberdeen side of the country very different to the west. Larger communities that look more stable somehow, as if they've been there a long time and aren't afraid to say so. Remembering the north west, the communities outside Ullapool and Lochinver always seemed romantic and somehow transient, without streets, often without drives or gardens; more as if they'd settled on a nice patch of land and would stay there for a while. Curious and interesting to see the two in the same visit.

I've often toyed with the idea of moving to the northwest, but I suppose it isn't practical and dh would hate it. I know there would be moments when I would miss being able to wander into Newcastle and around the big department stores  - which I do rarely, but they're there when I want them. The M&S is one of the flagship stores, second only to London because we have such a cross sectional mix of people prepared to spend - the town and country types of the Tyne valley, the urban dwellers of Newcastle and Gateshead, the suburbans in countless villages up and down the river, like me, and then the holiday traffic that comes in from northern Europe - Scandinavia, Denmark, and as was reported on the news yesterday, cruise ships from the Faroes bringing people to do their Christmas shopping.
We drove through  the hills from Tomintoul to Cock Bridge, said to be one of the highest roads in Britain at just over 2,000 feet, and the landscape got progressively darker, gloomier and downright bleak. To drive from home to the Lake District, we cross Hartside Summit into Cumbria, which is just over 1800 feet, but the scene is much more attractive than this road. A strange shape loomed on the hill ahead of us, and as we drove past we saw that it was the rather stark looking Lecht ski centre.

Compared to the ski resorts we've visited in Europe, Canada and the US,  it didn't look appealing.  A little further on, a shooting party had been on the hills, and we watched several Land Rovers gingerly edging their way across the hillside back to the road.

It may have all looked so much better in sunlight, but the sky was grey and grim, and the landscape was a dark, dirty brown green. From there the route was downhill most of the way to Ballater, and there the landscape changed again But more of that tomorrow.

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