Picture This: The Star of Strathdon

by Keith Savage · 6 comments


The road from Royal Deeside northwest to Speyside is little more than a trail swallowed in the folds beneath the Cairngorm Mountains. The centuries have yet to surmount these highlands where the capricious winds slash and thrust like rapiers in winter’s dark. The sound in my ears is the sibilant language of lost souls gliding over the barren hills and dry riverbeds. Far below in a sheep-flecked valley stands the shining countenance of the star of the Strathdon, Corgarff Castle. This 500-year-old tower house with its eight-point-star curtain wall will be an alien wonder in the distant future.

The history of this place blows like leaves from the branches of my memory. I am letting tales of the ’45 and the Jacobite uprising and all the bloodshed fall. I am forgetting that these hills used to be blanketed in forests and struck through with mountain streams. In that new vacancy, this view, like so many in Scotland, defies our habit to believe we understand. It overflows. Atop this distant hill, a stone stands to my right, engraved with a simple poem I haven’t yet forgotten:

take a moment to behold

as still skies or storms unfold

warm your soul before you go

in sun, rain, sleet, or snow


Gayla~No Gravatar January 3, 2013 at 4:45 AM

This is truly a magnificent image and a beautifully poetic description of the terrain. Though it is a spectacular view, the image of an untamed forest and waterways would be, as well. Man is taming the wilderness…
There is something so mystical about the Highlands. I’m fascinated by the history and the nature. Thank you for sharing this.

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar January 3, 2013 at 7:26 AM

My pleasure, Gayla.

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AndiNo Gravatar December 14, 2012 at 9:28 AM

Just gorgeous…

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LindaNo Gravatar December 14, 2012 at 4:36 AM

This picture, more than any I’ve ever seen on your blog, epitomizes the Scotland I have in my head. I love its cities and its shores, but this vista captures that alluring remoteness I associate with the country. It resonates with me and pulls me to want to go back more than any pretty vista of a white village set against a blue sky in the Mediterranean. Thanks for taking me back for a few minutes here!

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar December 14, 2012 at 7:49 AM

What an interesting comment, Linda. The photo does capture that sense of bittersweet forlornness that seems to be ingrained in the landscape.

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KenNo Gravatar December 13, 2012 at 4:39 PM

What a marvelous view! What a beautiful country. I really need to go back. Maybe in a couple of years. It will seem longer.

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