For this post I would like to welcome Alex of the Wild Pioneers for a guest post on my blog. We met three years ago whilst I was working at an RSPB event, where Alex introduced herself to me as one of my new work colleagues. She instantly came across as one of the cool cats but very down to earth and laid back and we hit it off straight away talking about wildlife and our love of Scotland. Sadly we never did get to work together as along with partner, Espen, they went on to make their Wild Pioneers dream a reality, a digital nomad lifestyle and experiencing travel and work with no ties, no time constraints. Travel on their terms.
I invited Alex to write about her slow adventures in Scotland and ask her about how walking the same path twice changes your view of a place. This was perfectly timed with their stay on the beautiful Isle of Mull. Take it away Alex:
I’m writing this from a little wooden cabin on the Isle of Mull, the third largest island in the Scottish Hebrides. We’ve been here for 10 days, and we have just 4 days left of our trip.
Our cabin lies outside a little village called Dervaig, which lies at the end of a 10 mile long single lane track on the north coast of Mull. Dervaig is home to the oldest pub on the island, which was historically a drovers inn. It feels remote. It feels romantic. White tailed eagles and golden eagles are a near daily sight, and the garden has a resident buzzard whom we’ve named Whitey.
Every morning the sun rises behind the hill behind the cabin, casting soft light across the hills and the glens and down to the sea which we can sew sparkling below us. It’s spring. But it’s still Scotland, so we’ve had wind, rain, hail, and glorious sunshine – sometimes all on the same day. I’ve been to Mull several times before – but this trip is different.
It’s the longest I’ve spent on a Scottish island, and that time is precious. Previous trips have been day trips, work trips, or a whistle stop tour on one of our manic but still supremely enjoyable road trips. This time we get to take it slow. As keen birders, there is sheer joy in rattling through the countryside, trying to tick as many species off our list as possible. But there is also great delight in slowing things down.
As I walked the path up the slope behind the cabin for the umpteenth time this week, I saw a tour bus go past on the road down below. It pulled into a passing place to make way for an oncoming car. I thought about the tours I’ve taken in the past, how I’ve been sitting inside, warm and cosy and enjoying the drive, just to look up and catch sight of walkers on hillsides, or kayakers on a loch, perhaps even a forager rustling about in the undergrowth seeking out nature’s delectables. I thought about our own road trips that we’ve driven ourselves, whizzing past beauty spots, picnic spots, and even completely average spots, thinking quietly to myself: “I’d love to come back here some day.” I always long to come back to a place. It’s not quite enough for me to visit once, tick the box, move on. My soul isn’t satisfied, my thirst for deep experiences quenched. As I continued on walking my route, treading this same path for perhaps the fourth time in a week – a path that isn’t in any guidebook or marked on any maps, I realise I have exactly this luxury.
The luxury that only slow travel affords:
The deep satisfaction that you get from immersion in a place. The intimate knowledge of a place, somewhere, anywhere. The time to experience it in different lights, different weather, or even through different eyes, from a different mindset and a different perspective than you had yesterday. Experiencing what changes and what stays the same, both in the landscape and in yourself.
It’s true what they say – you can never set foot on the same path twice, nor step in the same river twice. Some places really do pride themselves on having so much to do that you would never
walk the same path twice anyway. It’s their headline draw.
But for me, at least right now, to walk the same path over and over again is not just a great joy, but, in this frenzied, hurried pace of life we live these days, a great privilege indeed.
Take the time and travel slow, where you can. It’s a total delight.
In the last twelve months or so I have written posts about not geo-tagging Instagram photos and how slow travel will definitely enhance our experiences. By walking the same path twice we see things we missed the first time. I would like to thank Alex for sharing her thoughts for blog. I highly recommend checking out the Wild Pioneers.