By Hannah Wigley
Often there is much adventure to be had very close to home and at very little cost.
Do you ever feel the pull of the wilderness like I do? To walk out of your door into the unknown and forget the civilisation that you’re leaving behind? This nomadic possibility is something that I have been drawn to my whole life, but inopportunely coupled with a homebody streak and limited funds. Besides, living in the tiny UK, such an endeavor can often seem less achievable than it is on Earth’s vast continents. A year and a half ago, I set out to create this feeling of adventure as best I could without venturing from our little island. So, I decided to spend a few days alone in the Scottish Highlands.
Using only buses and trains, I was forced to be imaginative about where I went and how I got there. Reduced route options shaped unexpected wanders to curious locations off of the beaten track and long layovers lead to meditative moments (such as the one pictured below) which otherwise might never have come to exist. Staying in a different location every night meant that I could only bring with me what would fit in my backpack, so l took only the bare minimum. Unburdened with distractions and totally in my own company, save for a few conversations with strangers, I had a lot of time to simply appreciate the rugged beauty around me.
Scottish nature is pure, undisturbed and unapologetic. I found myself on steep mountain sides; fresh rain pattering my face, a shy sun emerging between stormy clouds, a brash wind tousling pine and heather. Staring out of a bus window at the soaring peaks and thunderous waterfalls of Glen Coe. In an abandoned castle on the edge of a loch, sheltering from a deluge in its tumbling stones. Arriving at the converted Balmally railway station (bookable on AirBnB) to homemade soup, wonderful hospitality and a warm shower after being absolutely soaked by said downpour. These being just a few examples of how small pleasures became absolutely blissful during this humble expedition.
There are some experiences that are enriched by solitude. Being alone made this trip much more spiritual, as I paid close attention to the spectrum of sensory interactions I was having with the nature around me, rather than with another human. I am by no means a brave or outlandish traveler – quite the opposite – but this modest adventure mixed just the right amount of exhilaration and wildness with safety and familiarity. Not all travelling has to be exceptionally bold and daring; I invite you to have your own modest adventure.