In search of silence, not selfies

A postcard from Lochaber, and some thoughts on slower travel.

This part of Scotland is known for being wonderfully wild.

This part of Scotland is known for being wonderfully wild and, rightly so, is a favourite haunt of those wishing to forget their weekday routines. There is but one place where we remember our pervasive digital lives and that’s Glenfinnan — but if you focus on the landscapes, the changing clouds, the moment, and not on capturing content for social media, the viaduct simply curves by in a blur of waterproofed tourists and a bulging car park. Never, in all my years holidaying in Lochaber, have we ever stopped for photos.

Here we’re in search of silence, not selfies.

Although the terminus of the ‘Harry Potter train’ line is undoubtedly busier than it was years ago, as are the accessible beaches along this coast — in 2019 the tourists’ rise reportedly linked to the fall in the pound — they still call this the Rough Bounds for a reason. Out here you can stumble upon bays unspoilt by footsteps; the oil-black scalps of seals coming curiously close to our lonely dinghy; and seas clear enough to wash away all thought of headlines.

Each time I return here I remember the sweetness of travelling slowly.

Being in one spot for an extended period, breathing it all in, getting to know a place like a new friend (or old, in this case) is surely the essence of what it means to travel at the deepest level. If only more of us were encouraged to seek this out on our doorsteps rather than globetrot, ticking off an interminable, edited list of ‘best places’, then we might be some way to reversing the tide that’s swamping the environment, our photogenic cities, our lives with this race to travel which we mirror through our online behaviour.

Get to know your favourite place like a best friend.

Where in the world is your Lochaber?

Originally published at on August 5, 2019.

I write about slower travel, social media and Scotland.

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