Buckle up and get ready for a wild ride. Prior to this, I had never experienced hallucinations and was apprehensive about the possibility. I wasn’t sure if I would be fortunate enough to avoid them. As fate would have it, I ended up experiencing some of the most extraordinary hallucinations that you’re about to hear.
The Cape Wrath Trail, located in the Scottish Highlands, passes through an area with a rich history of clearances. The clearances were a series of forced displacements of communities from their lands that took place from the 18th to the early 20th century.
During this time, landowners began to see the value of their land for sheep farming and other commercial ventures. This led to a process of removing tenant farmers and their families from the land, often through violent means. Many people were forced to leave their homes, and entire communities were uprooted and scattered.
The effects of the clearances can still be seen in the landscape today, with abandoned crofts and settlements dotting the hillsides. The Cape Wrath Trail passes through some of these areas, offering hikers a glimpse into the history of the Scottish Highlands.
As I ran, I realized I was joined by a man and a woman. They were taking different paths on the hillside, much lower than me. I shouted to them, urging them to climb up to my level to avoid the bog, but unfortunately, I myself was waist-deep in it. The path was non-existent, and the section was very technical, leading us up a steep hillside. Suddenly, I woke up to the sound of a roaring waterfall nearby. I slapped myself in the face and corrected my thoughts, finding my way out of this tricky section. My companions had disappeared.
At a road junction, I noticed a man standing there, pointing the direction I needed to go. He was quiet and motioned with his finger towards the right side of the road, up the hill. As he marched ahead, I followed him until he vanished from sight.
Eventually, I reached a high ground where I noticed several buildings, people walking between them. They were beautiful white and grey bothies, and there were many of them up here. Although it seemed strange, I was able to locate each of them easily. I was relieved to find a sheltered place where I could take a quick nap. As I approached the first one, it suddenly vanished before my eyes. However, I pressed on towards another one and managed to get inside for a few minutes of rest before it too disappeared. Eventually, I came across boulders scattered everywhere and decided to sleep on the moss right then and there.
As I followed the muddy and sandy prints of a skilled fell runner, they appeared and vanished intermittently, fueling my excitement at the thought of someone ahead of me. With every sighting, I was inspired to push harder, eager to spot the elusive individual responsible for the tracks. Perhaps they lurked behind a hill or just around the corner – I was certain I would catch up to them soon enough. Climbing up the hill, I anticipated seeing them in the valley below.
Have you ever experienced a sense of belonging in a place despite being hundreds of kilometers away from home? It felt like I had been there before. I recognized the terrain, recalling a previous encounter with the river junction and ruins. It felt like home, even though I knew it was impossible.
After passing Inchnadamph, a forestry worker asked me to assist them with a task, which I willingly agreed to do.
He informed me that they were reintroducing wild cats in the area and wanted feedback from runners and hikers like me. To participate, I was to follow the zigzag path down to the sea where I would meet another forester who would ask me a few questions. He warned me to be safe and look out for other people on the path. As I ran, I encountered four other hikers and runners coming down the technical path. One of them had gone off the zigzag trail, so I shouted to him to come back up before scaring away the wild cats.
Upon reaching the sea level, I searched for the forester but he was nowhere to be found. The person who had given me directions had misled me.
As I ran through the remote areas of Glencould and Glendhu bothies, I felt a sense of isolation and fear. The knowledge that I was far away from civilization and all alone added to my anxiety. However, my feelings quickly changed when I stumbled upon Glencoul bothy. It was as if I had stumbled upon a small community. There was a man fishing nearby and his presence made me feel surrounded by life. I greeted him and continued my search for a way out of the area.
As I crossed a river, I saw a woman carrying twigs and sticks on her back, accompanied by two children. They stopped and looked at me, and one of the children even waved at me. The woman nodded her head in acknowledgement and continued up the hill with her children. The sight of people going about their daily lives in such a remote area was heartening. I felt a sense of comfort knowing that I was not entirely alone.
As I climbed out of the area, I kept looking back and saw people walking, children playing, and smoke rising from the bothy chimney. The feeling of loneliness had been replaced by a sense of belonging to a small, tight-knit community.
Out of nowhere, a young girl materialized in front of me and pointed up the hill, instructing me to follow the zig zags. Just as suddenly as she had appeared, she vanished.
Despite being alone, I could sense a palpable presence around me. Then a young boy emerged and urged me to keep going, following the girl’s direction to reach the Glendhu bothy on the other side of the hill.
Next, a coworker of mine appeared and informed me that a carriage was waiting nearby to take me down. All I had to do was make it to the forestry. I was told to wait for five minutes, but I soon realized that it was a ploy to waste my time. The coworker vanished, leaving me stranded.
In the forest, I encountered two men who led me to their village by the shoreline.
Once I reached the bottom, I felt safe and secure surrounded by boulders the size of houses. Houses were visible between them, and I felt comforted by the sight of other people. Finding a sheltered spot in the sun, I fashioned a bed out of some dry bracken and dozed off.
When I awoke, my wife Ashley and our children were there. She implored me to get up and move quickly. Time was running out, and I had to finish this. As suddenly as they had appeared, my family disappeared, leaving me to continue on my journey.
After leaving Glendhu bothy, I trailed behind a group of hikers and an estate van as we made our way along the shores of Loch Glendhu. However, they disappeared once I began to ascend Ben Dreavie after passing the Maldie Burn waterfalls.
As I entered the military grounds near Cape Wrath, the scattered flat stones on the ground seemed to resemble land mines. Fearful of getting blown up just before the finish, I carefully navigated around them, studying each one to determine if it posed a threat.
As night fell, I reached the road leading up to the lighthouse and was greeted by a brilliant light suspended in the sky. It shone directly where I needed to go, beckoning me towards the finish line.
2 thoughts on “The Haunting History of Clearances: Exploring Cape Wrath Trail Hallucinations in the Scottish Highlands”
A great read, can’t wait for an audio book! 😉
Love Wee Plum
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