Tackling Jock’s Highway: a dramatic strolling journey within the Scottish Highlands | Highlands holidays
Scotland has a wild history. Ruins, remnants, and relics are found in remote places — forgotten, neglected, and often hidden for long distances.
There was one trip and history that I wanted to follow for many years. The crossing of Jock’s Road consists of passing through bare rocks and through the tops of hidden mountains, whales. I tossed north to south, leaving the Brahland box Highland chocolate box and smashed the 20km trail past moorland, ending my route between the boulders and the Glen Clova Mountains. Although it was possible to walk for a day, I decided to take a short nap, sleeping one night in Scotland’s most unusual refuge by the way.
The process was started centuries ago by the fall of man and animals. I was expecting to hear something heavy in the passage. Knowing the customs and traditions of those who had previously used them to bring hundreds of miles of cattle for sale: a practice that lasted ten generations, but is now forgotten.
Loch Callater and Jock’s Road pass by. Photo: Markus Stitz
After walking south for an hour from Braemar, going for a dip in the Glen Clunie floodwaters, and then hitting 5km on the wrong road along the Glen Callater, it was refreshing to reach a small house at Callater Stables. The houses were suddenly sturdy from the desert, where they sat on the edge of a small hill with a series of towering hills. I took a short break in the morning, drank tea and sat on my back with the house.
These were the resting places for the guides: their last rest was the most difficult part of their journey: the push ups of the mountain breeze. All of them are still in the middle of the house, a strong cage with strong fences that have separate areas and sleeping quarters.
Moving up the Glen Callater is a great feeling, as if I was crossing when the place started to become an exaggeration. The adjacent slope was now close, and my starting point was altered with viewing layouts: straight angles, junctions and falling diagonals of turns. The colors also changed: the pale green grass was based on the purple heather of old and the darker peat hags.
It takes skill and courage to bring cattle to this region and to cross the mountains. “The knowledge of the world had to be great and simple, whereas endurance and overcoming great difficulties were essential,” wrote historian ARB Haldane in his 1952 book, The Drove Roads of Scotland. The men can sleep outdoors with their cattle, brightly colored in the mountains and wrap themselves in blankets, or (mostly) posters worn during the day.
Donations were limited to portable items. Walter Scott described the meal as “just a few oatmeals with two or three onions, fresh from time to time, and a horned beef full of whiskey”. In order to supplement the diet, donors extract blood from their meat, and combine this with oatmeal to make a black pudding. It felt a distant cry with my waterless, powerless food.
Remote location across Jock Street. Photo: Markus Stitz
Once at the summit of Mount Mounth, a resurgence of energy was required as I walked on a dark cloud. Attempts to obtain campus identification were hopeless, but hearing and touch were developed to make it possible. The wind blew, the cold intensified.
I was thrilled to be on my way to the end of the summer, remembering the terrifying description of the winter solstice I read in the Scottish Hill Tracks: “At that time of year the trail crosses the valley can be covered with invisible snow for months.”
In fact, it was a difficult time on New Year’s Day in 1959 that criticized five Glasgow mountaineers. In an attempt to make a long crossing in the storm, the men were unable to reach Glen Clova on the other side, and one by one they were defeated by the Arctic – at the time, the deadliest disaster in Britain. The small refuge I was expecting to live in, known as Davy’s Bourach, was built a few years later – in memory of travelers – as the shelter was about to reach Glen Clova.
Awareness of the tragedy makes Jock Road and the surrounding mountains a beautiful beauty. The landscape here is different from that of the longest coastline on the west coast of Scotland. Instead, the vast expanse of high-rise moor, smooth corries and rugged mountains have their own beauty, as well as often superior beauty.
Across Jock’s Road, I head south to Glen Doll. Photo: Markus Stitz
It is an area where many consider it necessary to fight. In 1885, after finding his sheep herd in Australia, Duncan Macpherson returned to his native Scotland and bought the Glen Doll property. He immediately tried to prevent his entry into the country, but he met with the Scottish Rights of Way Society (now ScotWays), who wanted the road to be open. The dispute moved from the mountain to the House of Lords, destroying both of them but was finally decided by the people in 1887. The street was named Jock’s Road after Jock Winter, a local pastor who fought alongside the Scottish Rights of Way Society. The ruling set a precedent for legal action and led to the enactment of a number of laws, over the years, that should establish the basis for modern research rights in Scotland.
At higher altitudes, the wind intensified, and the mist became mere bullets. I was following the established pattern of ink scraps, tying and lifting my head, so I almost missed Davy’s Bourach’s bedroom door, a small door, a red box, a stone wall.
Davy’s Bourach House. Photo: Patrick Baker
Inside, the small area was dark and too low for anyone to stand in, but they were large enough to accommodate a small group of people walking in the most difficult terrain. I was obsessed with the well-known habit. I hung my cooking clothes on the ceiling beams, piled them on the extras from my bag and began to heat up on my stove. It was a cool, but pleasant night in the house. The rainwater had holes in the roof (although it was already redesigned) and I fell asleep listening to the horror video game ptarmigan as he slept outside.
The next morning, the dawn was exactly the same as the evening – as if a few minutes, not nights, had passed. I was in the middle of a cloud, and the rain was heavy and unruly. Through the shelter I climbed a small balcony where the path passed through a cliff and waterfalls. I tried to compare the participants in this section. The road was so narrow that their animals could move about in it, with a long, pointed band at the edge of the forest.
Five other wildlife stories in Scotland
Navvies Cemetery, near Kinlochleven
Photo: Patrick Baker
In the early part of the 20th century, in the remote glen west of the Highlands, thousands of navvies worked on a large power plant near Kinlochleven. Dangerous work meant that most of the workers died during construction. He was laid to rest in a tomb laid out on a slope under a sloping wall.
Belnahua, Slate Island, Inner Hebrides
Photo: Patrick Baker
Slate mining operations once took place here. However, a number of natural and economic disasters, beginning with the catastrophic hurricane of 1881, flooded the rocks, turned them into businesses, and the area disappeared. People were forced to leave, and the island was abandoned.
El Alamein Refuge, Cairngorms
Photo: Patrick Baker
More than 3,000 miles west of Strath Nethy, the El Alamein hut was one of the three highest points on Cairngorm Mountain. Along with the other two sites were affected by the Feith Buidhe mountaineering accident in 1971 (when five students and their teachers died in a hurricane in search of a place) and were ordered to be exterminated. In contrast to the two, they are never sorted and irregular shapes are found.
Inchkeith Island, Firth of Forth
Photo: Patrick Baker
Inchkeith Island has been in operation for many years: fortress, prison, farm, lazaretto, prison and religious center. It was also a strange experiment, where King James IV allegedly took two infants to Inchkeith in the hands of a woman who was deaf and mute, believing that any language children could learn was God-given. tongue. In 1779, it was also the site of an attempt to attack Leith’s port under the command of navigator John Paul Jones of the Continental Navy of the American Colonies.
Glen Loin Caves, Sukoti
A rocky outcrop at the foot of Mount Argyll was a playground. For nearly two decades since the 1920’s, young working groups, mostly from Glasgow, had gathered around the caves to climb the stone walls of the Arrochar Alps.
• Patrick Baker is the author of Unremembered Place: Exploring Archeology in Scotland (£ 14.99, Birlinn), nominated for the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature 2020. Send a £ 13.04 copy from The Guardian Bookshop