A taste of normality
What a good day this has been! I don't think I've enjoyed a day more since the beginning of March, and I know it's because I was doing one of the things I enjoy most, and doing it with company. My bestie and I have talked on FaceTime every day over coffee, but we've only actually seen each other once, when I went to collect fish that had been delivered to her house for us. But we'd promised ourselves that when we were allowed to meet out of doors, we'd go for a walk together, and she had a new walk she wanted to share ...
The day began well, despite grey skies as a legacy of last night's rain; I had a lovely phone chat with #1 son before throwing together a picnic and making a flask of tea; we had coffee; we left the house only 5 minutes later than we'd planned. We met our friends beside a single-track road over the hills between Loch Eck and Loch Long, and set off along a forest track, happily not one recently built up with ankle-destroying rubble to take timber lorries but smooth and slightly sandy.
We ate our lunch in a hollow of grass below the road, high above Loch Eck (Blipped), with the purple rhododendrons just coming into flower beside us and a buzzard circling high overhead. We went on, to a mini-hydro dam high between two hills, noting other tracks that might be interesting at other times when we're allowed to share cars and leave one to be the end of a walk. The sun grew stronger, the sky that marvellous photoshopped blue that I sometimes think belongs only to Scotland. I saw my first ever Cinnabar Moth - a fabulous red and black patterned beauty - and butterwort, an alien-looking carnivorous plant with a star of leaves and a small purple flower sitting innocently beside a mossy rivulet. The view of Loch Eck expanded and changed, and we could see Inverclyde in the distance between two hills. We talked all the way - loudly, as we had the width of the track between us - and after the first five minutes we didn't see another soul.
I suspect we held our friends back a bit - my knee ligaments were still bothering me, as well as my perpetually self-spraining ankle - but we walked about 12 Kilometers (according to my FitBit) and came down in time for tea, as in all the best holiday hikes.
Finding a new walk like this after all these years, in what we consider to be our local area, provided a magical interlude in what has been a really difficult experience. It felt a world away from mask-wearing crowds and queues outside supermarkets; it felt normal.
Extra photo of the sunset sky - we don't face the sunset, but the colours were magical nonetheless.