Creag Bhuidhe, by Dunalastair Water – Acrylic and watercolour in a Watercolour Moleskine

Gaelic is the ancient language sometimes used in this part of the country and becomes more widespread the further north and west one travels. Visitors need not be concerned. Most locals use English. Maps, however, still use the old Gaelic names and this can lead to confusion. Take this area, near Kinloch Rannoch. Nothing special about the place name here. Creag is the Gaelic word for Crag, cliff or rocky precipice. (Bhuidhe means “Yellow” so “Yellow Crag” – probably because of gorse or broom growing on the slopes). Most of the glens of Scotland were shaped by glacial action which left high, steeply-sided peaks with flat spaces (valleys or glens) in between them. This action also left scarred crags on the sides of the hills and these are still exposed to this day. It goes without saying that the main roads evolved along these glens – the main ones are known as “Passes”. The Lochs (lakes) collect in these glens. Dunalastair Water is one such loch. It is fairly small, joining the larger Loch Tummel and Loch Rannoch. The crag, shown here, lies on the steep side of a smaller mountain – Beinn a’ Chuallaich, “Beinn” or “Ben” is the Scots word for “Mountain”. (I cannot get a translation for “Chuallaich”. Its probably named after a local place whose origins are lost in the mists of time). Its quite dangerous to try to navigate in our hills and mountains with a Gaelic dictionary. Half way up these slopes is an area called “Tom na Moine”. This suggests a “Field with a peat bog” – except there is no field and no peat bog. There might have been at one time but not now. People, lost on the Scottish mountains have been known to try to find non-existent features such as a forest long cut down but still called a forest on the map. I suppose with “sat-navs”, GPS etc getting lost is not the problem it used to be – if a signal is available.