If home is where the heart is, there are a number of places on this transitory sphere that I could call home.
Several of them are in Scotland, and one of them is a fairly remote spot near Braemar called the Linn of Quoich.
It is approached down a single-track road which passes first over the better known Linn of Dee, where the mighty river crashes through from the wilderness that is the Cairngorm mountains into the still high valley that brings it eventually – without ever calming down – to Balmoral, Royal Deeside, Ballater, Aberdeen and the sea.
At the end of the road there used to be a bridge and a small parking area. The bridge was swept away as the Waters of Quoich changed course during a storm less than two years ago, and now there is no easy way up the far bank of the river. There is a steepish path up the near side, and it soon reaches the Linn (a steep ravine) and the Punchbowl, and the old cottage that has been little more than walls and a roof for as long as I can remember.
This is a dramatic and beautiful spot, with Beinn a Bhurd a very long walk in the distance. Ten years ago I visited the Linn with a friend. It was a warm day, and he lay down on a rock beside the river, which was relatively low at the time, and went to sleep. I wasn’t feeling too well. As usual no-one was about – until a woman appeared further down and walked past us, up into the hills.
The poem below was written as a result of this small moment in time.