on the way to the shieling

‘Getting to know the moor through the soles of your feet ‘

Both Anne Campbell and her sister Catriona set off as our guides across the moor walking barefoot to their family shieling. With a desire to embrace the whole experience,  I took off my boots and did the same.   It was great to feel textures of squelshy peat, soft damp moss, and course heather and, at first, I was surprised how easy it was ( on the way there at least! )  The textures and course heather felt very different on my return journey when my feet were tired, heather scratched and slightly less soft and fresh!


Anne told me about a poem by  Derick Thompson, Creachadh na Clarsaich.  

I got the feel of you with my feet

 I got the feel of you with my feet

in the early summer;

my mind here in the city

strives to know, but the shoes come between us.

the child’s way is difficult to forget:

he rubs himself against his mother

till he finds peace.

I felt the rough side of you and the smooth

and was none the worse of it,

the two sides of the grass, and the two grips on the barley,

peat fibre and moss

And since the world we knew

follows us as far as we go

I need not wash away that mud

from between the boy’s toes.

And now, in middle age

I am going into the fire to warm myself,

with my bare feet on a peat by the hearth.


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