We wanted to do a small hike today and we chose to walk along River Nevis to Lower Falls. Wonderful views to the surrounding mountains accompanied us and a very mysterious and picturesque abandoned burial ground lays peacefully next to the river. Its name is Ach Nan Con Burial Ground, but I didn’t find any further information about it. The trees are very high and all the tombstones are washed up or sunk into the ground.
Next to Lower Falls I got an ice cream from a pink ice cream truck when I saw an old man starring eagerly at the mountains. He said only one sentence to me, but this sentence really caught me and didn’t let me go. Read the story on the bottom of the pictures.
The story of the old man
He was born in February 1941 in the middle of war and grew up on a farm near Fort William. As the descendant of a proud family of Highlanders, he was never too keen to leave his beloved mountains. But in 1959 he had the rare opportunity to study engineering in Edinburgh which he took because he always admired Thomas Telford, the constructor of the Caledonian Canal. And he wanted to build bridges, because there could never be enough bridges in Scotland to bring people together despite creeks, rivers and oceans. He came home after graduating and found a good job in a small enterprise.
Every weekend and sometimes even after work he went to the mountains. They gave him the strength to deal with difficulties at work, with his aging parents and with the loss of his favourite sister Mary who died of cancer at young age. The mountains made him reflect the world from a different perspective and he knew very well, that they also made him a better man.
One Sunday in 1964 he walked up the 999 meters of Stob Bàn near Lower Falls. He enjoyed the good weather and the magnificent views and on his way down, he saw a young woman sitting on the shore of Lochan Coire starring into the lake. He approached her hesitantly until she saw him. Fortunately she asked him to sit with her, because he wouldn’t have known what else to do.
Her name was Fiona. They talked about live, the mountains, their families and their expectations for the future. They sat there until they had to go back to the valley before dark. Seven month later they married in Saint Mary’s Church and founded a family.
They lived a good, simple life in beautiful Glen Nevis and went for mountain walks frequently. Together and separately. Because the mountains were good for their souls – to deal with live and even to deal with each others.
Fiona died in 2019.
On June third 2022, after a long walk, having just bought an ice cream cone at a quirky, pink ice cream truck, I walked down a path next to River Nevis when I saw him sitting on his four wheel medical walker in a red polo shirt and a grey cap. At first, I didn’t see his sad eyes and I asked him politely if he’s enjoying the view. He answered:
„Well, it’s all about memories today.“
(Only the last paragraph is true, the rest is fiction)