Rannoch Moor. For years I have been wanting to take the Caledonian Sleeper, to climb aboard the train at Euston station, to fall asleep somewhere between Stafford and Crewe, and to wake with the glens, the lochs and the mountains of Scotland outside the carriage window… and at the centre of that dream has always been the moment that I would lay eyes on Rannoch Moor. I am not sure why this high, open, expanse of boggy moorland, across which the railway tracks make their lonely progress, so captured my imagination… but it did. And now, as the landscape opens out and the snow – up to now visible only on the higher tops – seems to be coming down to meet us, I am finally there.
I don’t know how long it takes us to cross the moor, as we stand at one end of the carriage and move back and forth, the views out of either side of the train such that the only vocabulary that lands on the notebook in my hand is patently not up to the task of doing justice to the scene. Bleak. Beautiful. Breathtaking. Put down the pen and just look. The sky is blue, the light is soft, and the moor is lightly covered with snow. I can feel the images becoming imprinted on my memory. This is what I have been waiting for, and yet I could not have imagined it would be like this... Rannoch Moor.