Glencoe

 

The first place I ever went camping was at Glencoe, in a small campsite called The Red Squirrel, nestled among woodland, alongside a crystal-clear river surrounded by mountains. At the time, this was just a camping trip,  a chance to get away for a few days to the Scottish Highlands with friends. I was unaware that this trip would change the way I saw the world, my plans for the future, and ultimately myself.

 

The first thing that struck me was the giant mountain, Buachaille Etive Mor, as you approach Glencoe. Never having ventured far from home before, seeing something of this size and scale was truly a first for me. As we drove through the glen more mountains and vast glens surrounded us. Stopping to take pictures every few minutes, we spoke about how we had never seen anything like this before, feeling as though we had traveled to another planet. The more I looked, the more amazing things I saw; herds of deer, waterfalls running down the sides of mountains, the beautiful colours of the plants, and small, delicate flowers.

 

After taking pictures and enjoying the views, we made our way to the campsite. On arrival we found a perfect spot beside a large tree to pitch our tent. From it, we had a view of the river running in parallel with the campsite. I remember my excitement when I found we had our own fire pit beside our pitch. After all, what’s camping without the campfire? Taking longer than anticipated, we finished putting up our tent, and set out chairs around the fire to relax. I recall sitting in the quiet thinking how peaceful it was, the only sounds being mild chatter of the few other campers, a man playing his acoustic guitar to his family a few meters away, the sound of birds in the trees, and the river running next to us. Barely speaking, we stared into the fire in a trance-like state. As it slowly got darker and cooler, we headed for the warmth of our sleeping bags.

 

The next day I woke filled with excitement for what the day had in store for us. We sat again beside the fire and ate some breakfast before setting off on a walk to a nearby forest. On our way there, we were stopped in our tracks by a large stag, standing tall at the forest edge. We admired him for a few minutes until he disappeared gracefully into the trees and out of sight.

 

We continued on to the forest stopping beside a small body of water to have a drink and rest. Looking at the views that surrounded us, I remember thinking to myself that this could be the set of an adventure movie as I sat surrounded by mountains and dense forest as far as I could see. We spent the day exploring more of the forest, until lastly making our way up a mountainside to gain a better view of the valley below. As we reached our view point we sat down to rest, taking in the views of the mountains and forest. It was easily the best view I had ever seen. I was filled with a great sense of peace and calm as I looked at the mountains, with herds of deer dotted here and there, the small lochs and a winding valley disappearing into the distance, all while the sun sat low in the sky, bathing everything in a warm golden light. After some time we headed back down the mountain and made our way back to camp to prepare dinner and relax beside the fire once again. 

 

After a walk back through the forest and down a road winding through the hills alongside the river, we arrived back at our campsite, tired and hungry. We set upon building another fire as it had began to get dark. Cooking hotdogs on the stove, we chatted about the amazing day we had, and how lucky we were to live in a country with views and scenery like the ones we had experienced. The other people in the campsite were also laughing and joking around their own fires. Again, the nearby man played his guitar, this time not to his family, just to himself, under a tree, lost in his own music. We sat again staring into the fire late into the night. As the site grew quieter, people headed into their tents for bed, the fires dying out along with the sound of the man’s guitar. Lying in my sleeping bag that night I thought to myself how much I didn't want to leave for home the next day, and how I wanted to stay and explore a few days longer at least. There was so much more I wanted to see and do here. 

 

We woke the next day and began to get ready to leave, taking our time to have breakfast. I was sad we were leaving, but happy having had such an amazing trip. After we had packed the car and began to drive home we had already started planning our next adventure. The feeling I had been left with was one of curiosity and wonder for what else was out there in the world, like this or better. I knew from then on I wanted to, and had to, find out.

                                                                                                                                  

After this first trip to Glencoe, and my first real experience of the outdoors, I have found myself spending most of my time there. I explore other places too - the Highlands of Scotland or even to a nearby forest - all the time with my camera taking pictures of the beautiful things I see in order to share them with others. Glencoe was the perfect place for me to gain experience with my camera, and to this day some of my favourite photos are from this first trip, simply because of the nostalgic memories and feelings of joy and excitement I have of them. For me, a good picture transports you to the time it was taken, and evokes memories and feelings - good or bad. 

 

Since my first time at Glencoe, my whole outlook on life has changed drastically. I find myself looking at life in a different way, in appreciation of the little things all around me. I find spending time surrounded by nature can be greatly therapeutic, a great way to destress and clear my head. Over the years my love for the outdoors has only grown. I find myself planning my future around my love of the outdoor lifestyle, and my passion for photography. I hope to make more memories surrounded by something that makes me feel most at home, nature. 

 

John