The distinctive smell of tortured gears wafted into the car. It was not surprising. The lane we had chosen after the road closure, was not only so narrow we could not have passed an oncoming rabbit, it was also climbing at an alarming angle and had thrown in a hairpin bend with an adverse camber, just for good measure. Had there been anywhere to turn around at that point, I might have considered it, except for the irrational fear that any loss of traction would send us sliding back down the slope. Then there was a break in the wall to our left and…
To hell with the gears… the car has been needing a new clutch for a while anyway. The incredible view over the valley was worth it. We were already high and still climbing. Thoughts of other impossible roads crossed my mind. If the narrow track over Ben Lawers had been out of the question, how come we were now climbing just as high? The road, I later found, is listed as eleven miles of officially dangerous road, linking Kenmore with Amulree, climbing steeply up to well over seventeen hundred feet and full of hairpin switchbacks. And it is glorious.
Not that we cared… We had driven through the Cairngorms just the day before, but somehow, following the valley roads and looking up at majesty, does not really give you a true sense of place. There is a feeling of security in the glens, as if the earth hold you in the hollow of its hands. Here, in the wild, high places, where the land spreads out far below and around you, eye to eye with the mountain-tops, you begin to understand just how small we are and how vast and beautiful our home.
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