The High Road
THE HEAVENS OPEN AS WE MAKE FOR THE HILLS
At five o'clock on Monday evening the first drops of rain began to fall and the caravan was absorbed by a lolling pother of commuter traffic oozing out of Govan towards the Erskine Bridge.
The growing tickle of elation that we felt at the prospect of fresh air, open space and fast roads was clearly not shared by our fellow road users. For whom, amazing as it may seem, the sight of ten young turks in sports cars barking and backfiring as they jostled for position in the queue failed to lift their spirits as they damply crawled home.
No matter. As the road began to open up the cool clarity that comes from being behind the wheel of a fine and powerful automobile had begun to dominate. By the time we hit a sylvan ribbon of road along the banks of Loch Lomond a collective giddiness enveloped us. Cars that had hitherto skulked in the shadows of their more ebullient siblings emerged in the humid evening to throw down moves by turn balletic and bolshy.
The savage potency of a V8 engine is one thing, imbued as it is with its own dark beauty but the plucky stand-up-and-be-counted composure of the Golf GTI as it popped out and bustled its way to the top of the pack within a series of narrow interlinking s-bends evoked a poetry as heady as Robert Burns.
This was what it was all about – fifteen friends, out in the wilds, exercising the right foot with nostrils flared.
The approach to Ranoch Mor corkscrews up the side of a gorse and heather covered rise punctuated with granite monoliths. Wisps of hill-fog tease themselves around the shoulders of brackish pools – a land of things that wail and gnash in the moonlight. And through the stair-rod downpour we pushed on, the end in sight but weary now – hallucinating, nod-off-in-the-middle-of-a-corner weary. Two large cans of Red Bull, swallowed in rapid succession and a prayer.
Just twenty or so miles to the ferry at Corran and short journey across the sea loch to the sanctuary of Ardgour House, food and a bed.
…and before it perhaps fifteen minutes of intense, visceral pleasure as we gunned the cars home down one of the world’s greatest roads. The silvered edge of the caffeine heightened by the tunneling effect of the rain as we pointed down a straight disappearing between two granite pyramids.
And after, the weaving, frenzied downhill through the glen, banshee engine braking into ninety degree corners before dropping the hammer and barrelling out the other side. All the time thinking of rest but wishing the moment could spool continuously on until some indeterminate point way, way in the future.