Close encounter with an eagle

DESPITE the weather forecasters' predication of fine clear weather the previous day had been pretty grim.

I was on Canisp, one of those individualistic hills of Sutherland and as I climbed the hill the wind was becoming stronger and stronger. Not only was I being battered about but it looked as though the darkening clouds were bringing rain in from the sea.

With the summit of the hill in sight I eventually decided to chuck it - turn my back and descend back to the comparative calm of the glen.

The next day began with more of the same kind of weather - dark clouds and a violently gusting wind. Rather than simply pack up and go home I decided to have a walk up to the Lochan Bealach Cornaidh of Quinag, on the basis that the long east ridge of the hill's Spidean Coinich top would offer some shelter.

By the time I reached the lochan things weren't too bad and I pressed on towards the Bealach a' Chornaidh. By the time I reached the edge of the corrie the wind appeared to have abated and it was still dry so I decided to press on up the steep south ridge towards Spidean Coinich. Shortly afterwards I was blessed for my endeavour.

Just as I approached a narrow and pointed rise on the ridge I became aware I wasn't alone. I sensed movement ahead of me and I glimpsed up to see a head - but it wasn't a human head!

Less than twenty feet away the golden eagle rose from its perch on massive wings - I could almost smell it! With no evidence of haste it casually hovered over me then soared off into the sky, wings raised in a shallow V, leaving me completely and utterly exhilarated.

My day, which had begun in a very unpromising fashion, turned into something very special and unforgettable.

Happy walking,

Cameron McNeish
Scottish Walks Editor

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