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05 Dec 2017

I don’t mind; in fact, I love the uncertainty of walking up here. It’s the reverse of ordinary tourism – where, by and large, you know what you’re going to get. High in the Scottish mountains the weather is so variable and the terrain so tough that you’re always challenged. That sets the mind on edge. For thinking about the difficult things in life, this is the place to be.

So I beat a retreat. Back to Glen Feshie, where there are plenty of quiet, magical spots to shelter from any storm. The slope is steep, and the burn leaps headlong in an irregular series of cascades flanked by dark rocks that seem simultaneously pink and gold. Birch trees jut out of rock crevices and lean over the falls. Each cascade powers into a deep pool of fizzing, faintly green water.

I sit on the bank, sorting old thoughts, and watching patterns of water and sunlight. The endless movement of the falling water is counterpointed by the stillness of the great pines rising above me. We were here when you were a boy, remember? We haven’t gone anywhere. Whether I ever came to this exact spot I am not sure, but certainly the trees must have been here, and the burn, and the rocks.

Taking off boots and socks, I dabble my feet in the cool of the water. A few buttercups, lodged on the mossy side of a fallen branch, shine like bright yellow stars. A pine cone plops into the pool, circles in an eddy of bubbles and, entering the swish of current, rushes downhill.
• Among the Summer Snows by Christopher Nicholson (September Publishing, £14.99) is out now. To order a copy for £10.99, including UK p&p, go to guardianbookshop.com or call 0330 333 6846



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