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A walk to remember

As I stay at home here with my family, I realise that there are so many things I miss and feel grateful for. Having the Cairngorm National Park on my doorstep fills me with joy, and even though I can’t explore as much of it as I would like to right now, it has made me reminisce about all of the enjoyable and enriching things that are available to us here in the Highlands.

Yesterday I found myself standing in the garden, enveloped in the misty rain, and I was reminded of my first visit to the Cairngorm Reindeer herd.

We had made it just in time for one of the first walks across the mountain landscape to visit the reindeer. The journey there is through a twisty road, lined with tall, skinny pine trees. I had been pre-occupied with the misty rain and thoughts of missing the tour we had planned. My mother, on the other hand, was enjoying the scenery and the sudden changes in weather never seemed to bother her anyway. We were greeted by our guide, eager and ready to take us on our adventure. I saw younger children eagerly pulling at parents hands, couples walking in an almost slow-motion romance inducing style. I, on the other hand, managed to slip over twice, once left me with a bruised ego, the other with a rather unfortunate brown earth stain along the ‘bum area’ as my mum gleefully shouted for all to hear.

We came to the brow of a slightly steeper than anticipated hill, hair plastered to my face, rain droplets forming on the tips of my eyelashes made my vision blurry. All of a sudden I could hear nothing but the mild breeze. The chattering of the group had stopped. The guide had called out twice while we clambered up the hill. That was the last I heard.

Brushing the drizzle away from my face, I saw them. Coming towards us with an almost delicate determination. Silver and grey fur looking sleek and shiny in the rain. Big wet noses, deep calming noises, huge eyes that left you captivated. I find it difficult to describe how I felt in that moment. Part of me wanted to cry. I had never witnessed anything like this before. It was the moment I saw one of the babies, staying close to its mother, peering to take us all in. This group of wet, tired and dirty humans. The mothers re-assuring nudges. I stood there in awe, trying to take in all of the information I could. Not just from the guide, who was regaling us with stories, facts and figures. But also just trying to build a memory in my mind of that moment.

It was uplifting, watching them walk away together. One strong, determined unit, enjoying being together and feeling safe. I spent the walk back re-playing those moments on the hill. I always said that one day I would return.

After these strange times finish, I will.