Friday July 19
For our last day, it seemed like most people would be happy to visit a lake and chill out, and also our Scottish weather forecaster had foretold rain, so we chose a short route for the day. We started with the easy trail behind the hut, and modified the route to use the larger forestry track through the trees. The route wound it’s way in the shadow of the trees contouring the hillside and taking us in a generally northerly direction.
It was to be quite a busy day, in comparison to the rest of the week, and we met our first group of people quite early indeed, about only 1 km past our starting point. This was also the only hiking group I have ever met who behaved in this way, and it was quite startling, for all of us. As we approached each other on the track, and they were clothed (naturally) and we were mostly naked (naturally) the group did something most unusual, they all turned their back on us, like a caterpillar. Interestingly, (I thought), I’ve always said that if you don’t like the look of something, (like a naked hiker), you can always turn away, and remove the sight you feel is so offensive from vision. These people did exactly that, and even though they were effectively following my own instructions, I still found myself finding their actual behaviour most rude. If that’s their way of expressing their opinion of us, all well and good, but we still found it a bit strange. We decided they must be a fundamentalist religious group who had never seen naked people before, and we simply wished them all a pleasant day and continued on our way, as usual.
We got back to our hiking tour and continued on our way. During the next hour or so we met several other groups, which we thought must be all related, as they all seemed to be constituted of the same age and type of people, maybe 55 or so, and a high proportion of women, looking a lot like a local WI (Womens Institute) type of group. Several of the groups were a lot more amiable than the first, and we had the much more usual waves and smiles from some of them. Reaching the river as it cut back down the main valley, we turned and followed it as it flowed into the lake we had visited on our first day out.
Here we settled down for the afternoon, for a swim for the foolhardy amongst us, and a picnic for the rest. The single white cloud in the otherwise piercing blue sky, resolutely refused to bring on any Scottish rain, so we had to put up with being sunburnt, again. In the meantime, the hard core walkers decided things were becoming to sedate, and determined to hike up to the top of the nearest low hill, instead of sitting around like reptiles, so off they went. This left the rest of us to entertain ourselves with photography, sunbathing, and some minor interactions with yet more groups of people who seemed determined to commune with the spirits under the trees. They may have been Catholic, or Christian, or Pagan, it was really very hard to tell. We decided they were not Muslims as they were able to look at our naked bodies without being visibly upset. I should add that one group were particularly friendly and waved and smiled enthusiastically in response to my initial encouragement. One woman later detached herself from their group and sat near us with binoculars to better see what was happening further along the lakeside. Meanwhile Gus practiced his one-man show on “what drove me to madness”, to an audience of alpine flora and fauna, and the rest of us looked on quietly bemused and lightly entertained.
It was interesting to hear that Roberto, the Italian barrister, who had been somewhat nervous, (quite understandably for a first time naked hiker), about being interviewed for Conxita’s documentary, had declared himself quite happy to be involved with the filming if required. The general impression I have is that people are more nervous about this kind of thing when they are thinking about it in advance, but once they actually try naked hiking themselves, (or even see a naked hiker for instance), then they become much more relaxed to the concept altogether. As one would expect for a harmless and fun natural activity.
After a hot afternoon at the lake, we retraced our route of earlier in the week and returned through the forest to our hut, meeting still more groups of middle-aged forest hikers on the way. We hadn’t seen so many people all week, and now they were everywhere. We had probably at least given them something to talk about, if they weren’t too embarrassed to mention the subject of nudity to one another, that is. Now I’m just being wicked 🙂
Once we’d returned to the hut, we set about cleaning the place in readiness for the next mornings departure and preparing dinner. While waiting for the rest of the group to return from their hiking excursion, we sat outside on the garden table and benches and soaked up the rest of the stunning scenery which surrounded our well situated farmhouse.