Gill

Cairngorms Women Contributions

GILL

I live on the edge of the CNP, in Glenkindie

Summer (these days ! ), used to be all year round.

Just connections: My Dad was a keen climber in his youth and also involved in the first downhill ski-ing developments at Glenmore Lodge in the Fifties. My parents had their honeymoon in Aviemore. We used to go on family holidays to ski every Easter-renting a caravan / house in Aviemore or Boat of Garten. I remember a big treat was going to see the Ospreys at Loch Garten-the first pair that came in the 60’s / early 70’s, I think.

Walking (sometimes ski-ing)

My artwork-inspired by these places …and walking …

As a child ski-ing with my family and friends on easter holiday.

There are several places, I would not choose one. There are special places –eg the pools up by Inchrory, the pine trees at Rothiemurcus as you come down off the Larig Ghru , the lochans in the corries. The long solo routes I did going from Braemar to Coylumbridge –or some variation.

It’s the change in environment. Travelling slowly through these places…the smell of the pines on a hot summer day after being high up on a bleak cold plateau …the surprise of coming up to a ridge, and suddenly looking over to see a bright blue lochan appear…the deep serious peaty pools of the rivers where you can swim on a hot day…the sound of a ptarmigan on the bleak plateau…so its not just a particular place but the combination that makes it resonate. Its also a kind of nostalgia for being there as a child. Certainly the time spent –when you are there for a couple of days, day and night, seeing the changes in the light and weather make the experience more profound.

There are so many. I have had peaceful and scary ones. My tent blowing away on the Larig Ghru. Taking my wet dog to the Hutchison hut, and the disapproval of others already there, until she  just curled up in a wet ball in the corner and they felt sorry for her.  Crawling over the pass from Loch Etchachan as the wind was too strong to stand up.

Ski-ing down Coire Raibeirt.  Cycling through Rothiemurcus forest on my pilgamage from my house to Skye. And all the peaceful ones above. There are so many.

Its funny, I did not really think of myself as a ‘woman’ in the Cairngorms ! I know I am… but in this day and age, it does not strike me as being that special. But when you see pics of women climbing in long skirts its incredible! What Nan Shephard did was very profound..Amazing in her day.

I have done and still do a lot of solo walking, although this has moderated a bit now I am older. I used to go over the tops, now I stick more to the glens !

Crawling over a pass in the wind as I could not stand up

The smell of hot pines in the heat of summer after being cold and exposed on the plateau just a couple of hours earlier

Swimming in a pool where the water was so peaty – like silk on my skin.

The gurgle of a burn deep underneath me but hidden

A deer staring at me and me staring back-us both quite still for ages.

I think visual –the most obvious, but sound and smell also

Yes in all sorts of ways…but I have always done this, so its nothing new to me and I could not imagine NOT doing it ! If you get my drift?

I don’t separate body and mind so this is a hard question for me. I suppose if you want to analyse it, I could say ‘water like silk on my skin’ but that’s being too analytical, as it’s the WHOLE thing.

Both. I sometimes feel the mountain is telling me not to go there. Its not just fear… but a slightly otherworldly thing. There are places that just feel bad.

Lots of times-see above…long solo walks….and  walks with others too

Walking at night, you become dependent on the Moon-its amazing how much you can see if there is a moon –even behind thick cloud. Its very weird and disorientating when you are in a forest at night with no moon.

I slightly shocked me how easy it is to get lost. Of course I am talking about not using a head torch!

The weather/time of year has a HUGE effect. As I have always been going ‘in to the mountain’ as opposed to ‘on it’… Nan put that well!)  I don’t enjoy the challenge aspect of conquering the ‘mountain’ with my body. If I am going to relate to environment, then I need to be at peace, not terrified out of my wits or freezing cold.   It’s the wind that is the killer. Spectacular – wild and beautiful …I understand about the spirit of it but I don’t like being blasted to bits by it…so in that sense some may call me a wimp ! But I don’t feel like a wimp.

A spirituality that you can’t explain.

I think its really interesting how connected you can become to the natural environment. I am quite puzzled by my own connection –especially this feeling of the mountain telling me not to go sometimes. It sounds a bit cheesey, but I am sure mythology has some basis and connection here.

I know Dee Heddon created the walking library-which I loved reading while on a long walk with her and others. And of course Nan!