Southward over the brown hills, under grey skies, to Pitlochry, where there was light drizzle, and picturesque clouds drifting across the mountainsides. After lunch in a little cafe, onwards again along Loch Tummel and Loch Rannoch. Why? Because I can.
Brown and gold, red and orange, the leaves of Autumn. Mountain and lake vista, and the peace of the empty road through the woods. The changing scenery: woods of birch and glorious splash of autumn colour, then avenues of oak trees on either side of the road, then English-looking farm land with cows and farmhouses. Still more lakeside and rolling hills and then still later on, the land rises. There’s that beautiful, sooth, deep and rich brown of late Autumn, lovely under blue skies or grey. The winding road climbs up onto the Moor of Rannoch. I arrived at Rannoch Station in drizzle. Worth the journey just to see this most remote of British railway stations. Here, Fort William is barely 35 miles away by rail – but by road, more than a hundred.
On the run back I stopped by a B&B whose website said “www.middleofnowhere.com”. I wanted to stay but there were no vacancies. Seems everyone wants to be in the middle of nowhere. I popped into the Kinloch Rannoch Hotel, a grandiose spa hotel, but they wanted £213 for a room. I left, giggling. If you need to know how much it costs, you can’t afford it – never a truer word.
Tiring now, I motored back to the A9 and joined the treadmill at 57mph over the Pass of Drumochter. Pedestrian motoring; no fun at all. A twenty mile passage more tiring than all the country lane driving of the day so far. And on to Kingussie, another one of those compact Scottish small towns with a neat grey high street. And I stopped in the first place I went into – the Duke of Gordon Hotel. A lady called Fran sold me a single room for £40.
So I’ve journeyed along the silver ribbon of highways through the fading glory of Autumn gold. But it’s not the road that has been important this time: this November, it is the silence, the holy silence.