I went on a pilgrimage today, in the far north of Scotland, though it started out as a walk. It’s difficult for me to define -exactly- what a difference between a walk or hike and a pilgrimage are (I’m still figuring that one out) but perhaps not knowing precisely where I’m going, even if I do know (I assume I know!) where I’ll eventually end up.
Today I had a companion, Bel. She’s a young, well-trained, very obedient, collie, and I probably wouldn’t have done this without her.
Learning number one. The right companion is a blessing!
My friend, a local, had told me there was a path … and I did find the starting signpost, but this was not a well marked, or even a well-trodden trail by any stretch of the imagination. As I looked carefully it was possible to work out which way to go! I don’t know if we ever got to Poulouriscaig or not but we did walk further -much further – than 2.5 km before stopping for coffee (from a flask) and heading back!
Learning number two. Whatever the weather, and whatever the forecast – watch the weather!
We saw no one all of our journey …not even in the far distance, and I kept my eyes firmly on the weather as although it was a beautiful, warm, sunny day a sea mist kept threatening, and trust me I did not want to get caught out! And we didn’t! But watching the weather -looking back from time to time to check the mist from where we’d come- was also a good habit, as I found the way back relatively easily.
This was the only signpost en route … at the edge of a peaty bog, marking the safe route to take.
At one point my walk/hike transformed into a pilgrimage. Walking into the unknown, on the edge of my comfort zone (no network signal at all!) but not fearful, enjoying the beautiful scenery and just ‘being’. Having Bel with me on this pilgrimage was a joy. Because she’s well trained and doesn’t chase sheep (other than on command) she could be off leash …and gave me a sense of security. This is her neck of the woods and it showed.
Distance: 9.5 km
Weather : Warm (20C) not windy … sea mist threatened but didn’t materialise
Clothing:shorts and t shirt (trousers and rain jacket in bag)
Conditions : hilly (not used to that!) unmarked trail …