SWD 7.1

~~~Chapter Seven~~
Where the Lies the Heart

spittal of g omr and shee water

A good image of the Old Military Road (A93) near Glenshee. The Shee Water, a confluence of four streams,  runs south out of the Grampians and flanks the road in some places. You can just see it in the middle-ish of the image, following the curve of the land.


The Old Military Road near Glen Shee ~and~
Police Scotland Station, Braemar
Perthshire ~and~ Aberdeenshire, Scotland


Alex was keen to see this part of Scotland through the eyes of Rory Drummond. But he was glad, in a way, to meet the mountains alone. Already he felt an intimate tug that started in his groin and spread to his stomach. There was a certain allure in the way the pines got taller as the pavement got narrower—an intangible, almost sensual pull of the blue-gray Cairngorms that rose around him like old friends as he navigated the curves on the narrow stretch called the A93.

Rory had told him briefly about this Old Military Road, built 300 years ago by the hands of British forces bent on subduing those damned Jacobites. Some long-dead Redcoats had carved it out of a wilderness. Too bad that progress meant the victory of one well-fed army over another, proud but ragtag, and sorely outnumbered…

kilted warrior copy

Alex fantasizes about a Jacobite. Why does this man look so much like himself? 😀

Alex understood a little of his adopted country’s sorrowful past. Nowhere was it more poignant than here in the Highlands. He thought he knew better than most where lies the heart of a place.

He wanted Rory to show him every memorable site, already knowing that beneath his tires and under his feet might also lie thousands of brittle bones. He shook off his gloomy thoughts and concentrated on memorizing every vista, every subtle change of horizon.


Almost the entire way since he and Rory had met outside Kirriemuir, the tender new-green acres along roadside had been dotted with fat white sheep—and their fragrant dung—mixed with the occasional Black Angus cattle and browsing horses. Now, nearing the Glenshee Spittal, he rolled down the window and leaned out to grab a lungful of fresh air. The Scots pines towered overhead, their arms sometimes stretched over the very pavement.

God, the aroma.

The intoxicating  smell took him back fifteen years, to a time of white pine and silver birch and clean snow. He’d spent untold hours with his father among the scrub cedar and pine, under cloudless skies, learning the way of mulie deer and wary jackrabbits, hours he would never fully recapture, but seared onto his psyche forever.

spittal sign

It’s not fair to capture the beauty of Glenshee from a Google fly-by. But this photo does give a sense of  the trees, the narrowness of the road, and the proximity of the Cairngorms.

He realized that winter in the Cairngorms, at least in this area, was now silenced behind a locked door. As he passed the entrance to the Glenshee Ski Resort he  reckoned the unusually mild weather had sent the tourists home. Good. He always breathed more easy as the population dwindled.

Coming into Braemar, the road ahead now seemed to be a long valley catching the pearl-and-gray clouds between its thighs, beckoning him with a wanton smile.

into a valley of clouds braemar

Into a valley of clouds…approaching the hamlet of Braemar, traveling north. [Google map photo]

No, this was not Nevada. There were no snow-covered peaks and miles of trees without a human in sight. The fences on both sides of the road—both wooden and rubble stone—spoke of civilization just around the bend.

But the damn bend!

This was his kind of road, his kind of tough landscape and trackless sky. Rory was right. He’d like to park the Jeep any damn place and just start walking toward the highest rise he could point his boots to.

But they had a job to do. He was almost sorry when he saw the sign announcing the hamlet of Braemar.


Almost a picture-postcard view of Braemar, a hamlet of about 450 souls not far from the famous Balmoral Castle.


This chapter to be continued and concluded later.
Refer to the SWD Pages on the side panel —>


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