The Glas Lochs

One of my favourite places in the world is the mouth of the harbour in Berehaven, with
Ardnakinna lighthouse looking down on you from your port side and the Pipers Rocks
standing tall and secure to starboard. Even more special are the Glas Lochs, a series of lakes
in a scooped-out basin in the Caha Mountains, a place of silence and tranquillity and peace.
At the harbour’s mouth, you are on the water, looking up at the land: at the Glas Lochs, you
are on the land looking down at the water.
The trek to the Glas Lochs takes about an hour and a quarter, allowing for pauses to gaze at
the harbour below, as it gradually diminishes in size and scale as you ascend.
You begin the trek on a narrow, but tarred, country road. After about ten minutes you pass
through a battered metal gate, held together with pieces of wire, plastic and twine.
Having carefully closed and tied the gate, you start on a winding dirt track and walk uphill
until you reach the lochs. As you climb, you pass some curious sheep, who gaze at you,
hoping to be fed. Lark song rings out in the sky and, at this time of year, in the heather all
around, as the birds try to divert your attention from their nests. If you are lucky, you may see
a deer on a nearby ridge. During the summer, drifts of bog cotton wave innocently and
cheerfully in the wind. Always you are aware of the bulk of Hungry Hill towering above,
like a massive sentry, forever on duty.
As you reach the top, you pass through a fortress of towering rocks and enter another world.
This is a sacred place, with an atmosphere more spiritual than I have ever encountered
elsewhere. The silence is intense and profound. There is a sense of antiquity here, a feeling
that people have lived their lives nearby and maybe worshipped here in ancient times.
Their secrets are preserved in stone. The lochs stretch out into the distance, enclosed by a
high, rocky ridge on each side. The water is still and dark. You sit on a rock and take in the
scene below, a scene that has not changed for at least many thousand years. You are in the
hidden heart of the ancient hills and worldly worries have no place here. But, more than
anything else, you hear and feel the silence which evokes a sense of wonder and awe.
Over the last almost forty years, I have visited the Glas Lochs in times of joy and times of
sorrow, in times of worry and in times of hope. I have gone there on hot summer days when I
lay on the rocks above the lakes and basked in the sunshine. I have gone there in the depths of
winter when, on frozen ground, I have been able to walk to the very edges of the lakes. I have
gone there with various members of my family, with some friends and often alone and I have
always set out for home feeling renewed.
When Dr. Livingstone’s porters in Central Africa refused to walk any further, they said to
him, ”We have travelled far and we must wait for our spirits to catch up.”
I go to the Glas Lochs when I feel the need for my spirit to catch up and this place has never
let me down. I’ll be back there again soon.