The following was written during a trip to the Scottish Highlands (heaven). It is only in the past couple of years of my life that I have visited Scotland at all, and now it is rapidly becoming one of my favourite places of all time.
I have always been one for picking up, grossly overusing, and then discarding of certain words from my personal lexicon. Most recently, that word has been ‘astonishing’ - though, in my current environment, it has been completely apt.
For the landscape of the Scottish highlands is nothing less than astonishing. I have for a long time been negotiating a mild obsession with trees and forests, and that is certainly fulfilled here. My god, it is glorious.
The Cairngorms National Park is twice the size of the lake district and is so full of excellent things that it is truly hard to know where to start. Mountains, forests, rivers etc etc. (I think you know you have reached nirvana when even just driving around feels like an activity.)
Having just visited Aviemore, I can attest to the fact that it is not necessary to leave the UK to see beautiful sights. I have long since been a believer in the beauty of the British countryside and UK travel - and am happy now to have ventured further North and seen the impact of vast spaces - which I think is what differentiates it for me from the other places I have visited in the UK.
First on Christmas day, and then the first day of 2020, the trip was bookended by dips in the North Sea.
As much as my immediate echo chamber have done, I have taken to cold water swimming. This is largely met with one of two reactions; complete and utter dismay, or conversely, with a need to understand and join in. My reaction was the latter after first coming across a group of swimmers in the autumn of 2019.
Since then, I have been dipping weekly and truly I cannot recommend it enough. I don’t know exactly why it is so enjoyable - but i do know it has become an excellent addition to my life, such as it is.
My favourite spots so far;
-Clevedon Marine Lake (around 30mins from Bristol)
-Cromhall Quarry (open 9am-1pm on weekends and bank holidays, and Thursday evenings before the sun sets during summer)
(p.s. always open to suggestions and reccomendations!)