January 21, 2019

Beautiful Nothing

Finding happiness in monochromatic inhospitable landscapes and no visibility.

Home to some of the UK's tallest mountains, the Cairngorm Plateau is known for its harsh conditions. When I went there last Sunday, I got to experience sharp winds blowing snow back and forth over endless fields of rocks and ice while thick grey clouds obscured anything further than 100 ft. Nightmare conditions, some could say. However, I had a blast while hiking there. The absence of distant views doesn't mean that it is empty; there are different qualities to appreciate. It is like night. Here, I found three factors that stood out:

First, it's calming. There aren't any colourful sceneries or civilisation elements to distract; any paved road is far away, and the cellphones reception is next to none. Sometimes, taking a break from the oversaturated, fast-paced world is relaxation at best.

Second, one gets rid of silly thoughts. There are no landmarks, no footpaths to follow.

Similar shapes, shades, and sizes in each direction require discipline to navigate: staying on track benefits from attention to detail, and the rough terrain requires focusing on foot placement. The brain is occupied enough to prevent thinking about nonsense.

While sometimes it can be nice to reach the destination by an easy, signposted road, it often feels more deserved when you have to fight obstacles on your way to the goal. Bigger responsibility equals greater satisfaction.

And third, when the clouds eventually rise and reveal a few outlooks here and there...

...the excitement runs super high.

If you liked this article, you might also like my previous stories from the Highlands, such as:


My first trip up the Cairngorm Plateau...


...or exploring three remote lochs not too far from here. 

Alternatively, visit my Blog Archives for more categories and topics. Thanks for reading!

Published by: Jakub Stepanovic in Stories