It’s the Cairngorms Nature at Home Big 10 Days! This WAS going to be the Cairngorms Nature Big Weekend and I WAS going to be over with the rangers in The Cabrach in Morayshire leading a family story-making session. Hopefully, all of that can still happen next year, but in the meantime the folks at Cairngorms Nature have organised a fantastic programme of virtual events from 15th to 24th May. That means people all around the world can enjoy this exceptional place while staying safely at home.
To mark the event, I’m sharing a nature poem each day on Instagram and Twitter. The ten together make up a series called The High Tongue, printed below, which were my contribution to our Shared Stories anthology last year. Exploring the names of ten of the Cairngorm mountains, each title begins with the anglicised version, followed by the Gaelic spelling (if different) and then the translation, which is explored in the rest of the poem. They are all Cairngorms Lyrics. This is a new poetic form I invented last year as Writer in Residence for the Park and you can read all about it here. (For pronunciation of the Gaelic names, look out for a recording I’ll post soon of me reading them all.)
Ben MacDuie – Beinn MacDuibh The Mountain of the Son of Duff High King of Thunder Old Grey Man Chief of the Range Head of the Clan Cairn Gorm – An Càrn Gorm The Blue Mountain Rainbow height: blaeberry bog brown red deer snow white blackbird dog violet moss green bright
Carn Ealer - Carn an Fhidhleir Mountain of the Fiddler She plays the rock with the bow of the wind for the stars to dance Cairn Toul – Càrn an t-Sabhail The Barn Shaped Mountain Storehouse of stone Boulders shouldering like beasts in this dark byre Hail drumming the watershed
Ben Vuirich – Beinn a’ Bhùirich Mountain of the Roaring Once the haunt of wolves howling at night now just their ghosts in failing light Coire an t-Sneachda – Coirie an t-Sneachdaidh Corrie of the Snow Bowl of white light black rock wind run ice hold hollow of the mountain’s hand
Beinn a’ Bhuird The Mountain of the Table Giants gather in clouds of black for a bite and a blether, bit of craic. Ben A’an – Beinn Athfhinn Mountain of the River A’an in a cleft of silence hidden loch secret river name breathed out like a sigh
Braeriach – Am Bràigh Riabhach The Brindled Upland freckled speckled wind rippled shape shifting fallen sky dark light shadow bright land up high Am Monadh Ruadh The Red Mountains Range of russet hills forged in fire at first sunrise old rust rock glowing still