For the past few months, I’ve had a growing sense of being in the wrong place. I’ve lived in Hertfordshire all my life, but since coming back from university in Cumbria, I haven’t felt like I’ve belonged in the south. Throughout my childhood and adolescence, I’ve been lucky enough to spend a lot of holidays and days out in Scotland, and I’ve started to realise that I’m happiest there. Inspiration comes easier, as does my ability to concentrate. There is a wealth of material to write about and the landscape cries out to be drawn and painted. Although I’ve never lived in a city, there is a feeling of congestion in the south that I’ve been more and more affected by. This feeling completely disappears in Scotland. There are fewer people and more animals, which my inner introvert loves.
So, I can now finally say that I am moving to Scotland. I came to the conclusion that I should do what makes me happy and be in a place where creativity and imagination are enhanced by the land around me. I want to walk in woods where there are pine martens and hike up hills where there are golden eagles! I’ve been lucky enough to see some iconic Scottish species already, including martens and eagles, but others are still mysteries. I doubt I’ll ever catch a glimpse of a Scottish wildcat, but just knowing that they are there somewhere is so exciting.
Every time I drive along the A96 during visits to my parents in Morayshire, often with dense forest pressing in on both sides, I peer into the shadows and imagine what creatures could be lurking between the trees. Of course, there are many beautiful places in Hertfordshire, but none within walking distance of where I live. I can’t step outside my front door and see the ocean hurtling towards the shore. I can’t walk for five minutes and reach a 1700 acre forest, or look into a sky full of stars and hope for the aurora borealis to show. I can do all of this from my parents’ house, where they live at the end of a peninsula jutting out into rumbling waves.
I’m currently staying with my parents for a few days and I can’t believe that this stunning place will soon be my home. I am studying for my MA until 2021, so the plan is to find some part time work or volunteering in conservation to fill my time alongside my studies and keep the CV fresh. I have so many goals for my new life in Scotland, including:
- Do the North Coast 500 – an epic road trip around the entire northern tip of Scotland
- Properly see otters – so far I’ve only seen a distant shadowy lump at night
- See a basking shark
- Go wild swimming – I’ll wait until summer for this one
- Go kayaking in a loch
- Visit all the major islands starting with Skye, Jura and Islay
- See the Northern Lights – seemingly equal to seeing a unicorn but it is actually possible!
- Learn some Gaelic – I’m fascinated by Gaelic – my favourite discovery so far is the name for the white-tailed sea eagle “lolaire suile na greine”, which translates as “the eagle with the sunlit eye”
Despite having visited Scotland on and off for the past 17 years, there is still so much I haven’t seen, and when I move I will have complete freedom to explore. After my next residential trip for university in February I shall be ready to leave life in the south behind me and begin a new, and far wilder, chapter in the north.