Gather round, my children, and listen to my story of trust, of love and ultimately of betrayal and terror.
I arrived in Torridon yesterday, the sun shining on my back, the joy of the people I’d met lightening the load.
I booked into the youth hostel there, enjoyed a fine meal of curried beef and naan bread. Following my nights of sleeping on the road, I slept soundly – my roommates, having foolishly rejected my generous offer of ear plugs, didn’t.
I ate a hearty breakfast, continental they called it, and wandered out into the day.
The mood of the world had changed in the passing of that one night. A mist had descended and a chill unlike any I’d had before permeated my very bones.
I walked slowly into the village – deserted but for a border collie. I was alone…so very alone.
The village store, clearly the hub of the community in its day, lay closed, bearing the timeless legend, “Winter opening – Wednesday – Saturday, order your food in the usual way….”
The dog, who I shall name, “Champion the Wonder Horse,” suddenly darted past me.
Clearly he knew something, and wanted me to follow him – through the gorse, around the invisible bend and into the fog.
I was weary from my days of pounding the road – instinctively Champion knew when to stop to allow me to catch up before racing off ahead again.
Clearly something was afoot. I looked up at the rugged sandstone of the Torridon mountains as they loomed over me, their cliffs gnarled and cracked from years.
Over time, eons, huge boulders had wrenched free from the crags, crashing into the bay below.
Again and again Champion raced on, looking back with keen eyes as I struggled to keep up.
What terrible fate had befallen his master? What scene of devastation would I see around the next bend, the mist ever thickening?
After miles I shouted, “No more, I can go no further…” but the hound with his beseeching gaze urged me on.
Suddenly I realised the mist was all around me – my voice fell dead as it came from my mouth…the dog could no longer be seen…I knew I was to fall foul of its evil trap.
Two hundred years ago, old Jock a handsome Amazonian of a woman, dressed in tweed had walked her dog, ‘Dug’ to this very spot.
Stories say there was a great crack in the mountains – she looked up all too late to see the rock bound down upon her – her clay pipe broken in the road, the only clue that she’d ever been there…
Jock had been on her way to see her lover, Mad Eric – her last words to ‘Dug’ before that terrible blow from the mountain were, “Find ma maaan…”
So the story goes, the ghost of Dug carries on the search, luring men along that long, winding most misty of roads so that they can join Jock in her crushed grave…
Many have gone…but only I have returned….
And this is what happens when I have a day off…
Torridon is beautiful…nestling at the foot of the mighty Torridon hills – yesterday the white houses looked like they were basking in the sun – today they’re huddled together for warmth.
The bay is dotted with huge boulders – they look for all the world that they cascaded off the hill at the same time – but I’m sure that’s not the story…
I don’t think I’d build a house here. I can only imagine the sight of a huge rock rolling down from the cliffs – cracked from the vandalism of years of wind, rain, snow and ice.
I’m sure if the Mars Lander were to land on the top of those hills the results would be, “Nope, no sign of life here…”
The collie in the story was real – s/he chases the occasional car – and did manage to get me to follow – personally, I thought I was off to rescue old Bill who’d fallen down the mineshaft.
Walk a mile