A Solo Road Trip to the Scottish Highlands

The Long Night

It was a misty autumn night in November, I was finally prepared and energized by my excitement, I had decided now was the time to set off on my road trip; the time was 2 am.

Despite the disapproval to set off at this time by my parents, we had eventually bid our farewells and I was now officially on the road, with a 6-hour journey ahead of me until I reached a camping ground in Glencoe.

Driving through dark and lonely roads, the mist had deepened, and I was in for a long journey. Out of excitement, there was this uproaring energy within me that had felt as it had been suppressed for so long; it was an intoxicating joy to unleash, my trip consisted of me singing out loud and inner picturing a prospective journey ahead of me. Time wasn’t a problem, it flew by and it was only me and my thoughts to entertain myself in the pitch-black night.

Sunrise

It was time for the sun to rise. As the sky gradually changed from black to a deep blue; before my eyes, I was presented with giant shadows surrounding me that reached the sky. As I slowly left my entranced state of high energy and introspection, I began to become incredibly curious and innerved by my surroundings. These bolstering shadows in an empty and unpopulated area that I was driving through were a complete unfamiliar sight to behold.

Then I knew, as it got brighter, I realized that what I was observing were the silhouettes of mountain tops. I had Goosebumps. Then more of the picture was being revealed to me; ripples and reflections on the ground that surrounded the mountain shadows, it was the lake and islands of Loch Lomond National Park.

As I drove through the winding roads around Loch Lomond, there was an abundance of colorful autumn foliage present around me, rays of light would seep through openings within the trees. The comforting vibrancy of the scenery was about to take another drastic change as I was creeping up to the steps of the Scottish Highlands.

The Reveal of the Highlands

Glencoe, Scotland

The grass turned from green to a dreary brown and the trees would no longer spread their seeds beyond this point. I had found myself in a surreal place; a rocky and baron plane with fully exposed mountains in their bare states, scattered around the area. A cold and rigid environment, a vast wilderness with no one in sight, the road was mine. It was as if I had gone beyond the wall in Game of Thrones; a shift from my normality of organized English Agriculture and urban landscapes to a desolate and expansive wilderness of the Scottish Highlands.

I had soon reached a secluded camping ground, tucked into a valley, surrounded by monolithic mountains. It was calming, the breeze was welcoming, critters peacefully in coexistence with man and although the grey and cloudy skies may set a gloomy undertone; I was indeed relaxed by the presence of the slow-motion clouds that gradually encompassed entire mountain tops.

Camping

Camping Site in Glencoe, Scotland

Now I was tasked with what I would consider, the ultimate challenge; setting up a tent by myself. Fortunately, some experienced campers had seen my struggles from afar and decided to give me a hand. After this slight embarrassing blow to my ego, it was time for some interior decoration of the tent; to get it as comfortable as possible. Once complete, I tucked into my sleeping bag and cozied up to my blanket and pillows, ate some sugary sweets and listened to the crackling sound of the tent as the rain would pour onto it. As the storm would subside and I had awakened from my encumbered state, I was ready to explore the surrounding area.

Exploring Glencoe

Glencoe, Scotland

Throughout my life, I have only been a distant observer of such magnificent wilderness and nature. Engaging with its histories and fictions, limited by the images I had formed in my mind and by the vicarious experience obtained from others ‘captured’ adventures created or recorded with electronic devices and distributed onto digital media, such as the video game: Skyrim.

However, I was now the player and protagonist; the thoughts and memories of cultural references had come rushing into my mind as I had ventured the area. I had reached the imaginative state to where I was combining the external reality with internalized depictions of symbolic fictional and historical signifiers such as dragons, beasts, and medieval clans; even to the point I was creating my own stories with the surrounding landscape, it was awe-inspiring.

The Stormy Night

Glencoe, Scotland

As the night arrived, the second storm of the day would accompany it, this time being much more aggressive than its predecessor and it was here to stay the whole night. The sounds of the chilling wind, the relentless crackles of the rain landing on the tent and absence of light; all evoked an eerie and ominous sensation, yet my secured state had ultimately filled me with excitement instead of concern; the essence achieved from practicing safe camping protocol.

As I had awakened by the sun illuminating through the tent and the singing of birds, then to my surprise, I was greeted by my neighbor; the rabbit right below my tent. My shoulder was gently being nudged by the rabbit as I heard the sound of it digging directly below me, fortunately, the rabbit had peacefully given up and didn’t end up tearing through my tent and brutally ripping me apart.

To the Isle

Neist Point, Isle of Skye, Scotland

The further I traveled north, the less of civilization I saw; I was on my way to the Isle of Skye, passing through the rugged mountains of the Highlands. As I was coming up to the bridge that leads you onto the Island, the land had began to mix with sea, a pearlescent rich blue color of water had given vibrancy to the picturesque’ dull skies and baron landscapes; it was a change of theme that relaxes and mellows out its spectators, rather than the harrowing vibe felt from observing the bleak mainland highlands.

The homes of the Skye were a sight to see; scattered white cottage settled on hillsides, spread apart on large land of rich nature left alone from large scale agriculture. Sheep would freely roam the landscape without barriers; it was a disorganized society that reflects the essence of nature, a place of simplicity and peace.

A Place of Bliss- Neist Point

Neist Point, Isle of Skye, Scotland

I would now reach what’d felt as ‘The end of the world’. Large grazing cliffs forged out of dark volcanic rock millennia ago that look like piled up shards of black glass. An infinite body of water was crashing into the cliffs; an electric energy felt from the sound and observation of this pure nature in effect, the cliffs were monolithic in stature and majestically stood strong and tall, bearing the relentless force unleashed by the ravage’s sea and its plethora of waves.

As I walked through the open field to the edge of the cliff, I would embrace the powerful winds that came with it. I had reached the edge. I tuned out almost all noises but listened carefully to the sounds of birds and the water crashing into the rocks. In this place and time, it was just me and nobody else; I felt like I was no longer living amongst billions of people in this world, but that the world was only made for a few people and luckily I was one of them; it was empty and beautiful, no superficial structures or civilization in sight as far as you could see. It was time to take it all in.

The Feeling

Neist Point, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Scenery can reflect and shape our thoughts through the power of the visual, sound and sensation. As I looked as far out as I can at the endless sea; it would symbolize to me the endless possibilities of journeys to pursue in life and it is the journey that makes you feel alive; only the ending of life is an abyss, the ultimate restriction of journeys.

Conclusion

Neist Point, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Now, this was the end of my trip and it was time to head back home. After this trip I can say I will be pursuing more road trips in my lifetime; as you are in full control of your journey, not distracted by passengers that are strangers, making the trip feel entirely exclusive to you and being able to witness the gradual change in landscape as you drive on. I would highly recommend road trips in general and I encourage people who are in isolated positions in life to be spontaneous and go on a memorable journey; since life is all about the journey ahead.

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