A noonmessenger is, as the name suggests, a deliverer of news both good and bad. How fitting then that our messenger is one so often linked with omens and of delivering news to the gods.
While climbing Ben Lomond this month, which is a long and trudging ascent with far too many false peaks and twists, we came across this raven which followed us much of the way. A few times it got close enough that we could hear the powerful beats of its wings but it would flit away into the mist before we could take a proper picture. It was only once we reached the top of the hill and could give it some biscuit that it came, cautiously, bouncing over.
So seeing as Ben Lomond is the highest mountain in the Bristley Woods and because we still have a few days left on the Apawthecaria Kickstarter, I thought I would regale you with the tale of the postmaster, Blackbeak. And also sneakily show off some pictures from my holiday ;)
Sunperch, that's what they call it you know. The great mountain at the edge of the Crossing Loch. And yes, on the rare day that the sun shines on these heather covered hills, Sunperch is a beautiful sight. All the islands of the loch can be seen from here. Coracles, rafts, and families out for a swim dot the loch looking little more than ants from up here. They say on a good day you can see all the way to the mountain of falling goats far, far away from the Bristley Woods. Though most days Sunperch looks more like the picture above. A cold and misty place home to birds and the occassional traveler looking for a respite from the chaos below.
My job is to travel between the islands delivering mail from one beast to the next. Letters are my usual fare but are a bit boring. Some may call me nosy but I like to guess what's in my care and letters often prove so trivial. A letter home is sweet but there's nothing for me to ponder. Packages on the other hand. Wrapped in twine and full of scents and sounds. A package is a treat to carry and the face of the recipient is always so delightful.
Beyond acting as postmaster for the islands, I also keep a lookout for silly little beasts who, for some mad reason, choose to visit Sunperch. The picture above shows the mountain in the morning - with the Titan ruin at the bottom. The picture below shows the mountain in the afternoon.
The weather can change quickly on the hills and yet, every day, I get some badger or hedgehog shivering in their shawl because they can't read the clouds.
I think the Titans used to climb the mountain as well. I've no idea why, there isn't much food to be found. It's colder and windier, perhaps they like that?
Maybe it was just to say they've done it. Some of the foxes can be like that. Munro Bagging they call it which is a suspicious sounding name for any activity.
Those that know me know that it's best to leave packages and letters at the Eye of the Loch, an old Titan ruin at the base of the mountain. So each noon I check the Eye and deliver any post to the islands while my Noonnmessenger compatriots collect any addressed to O'doak or other settlements outside my route.
The closest island is a titchy little thing where a family of delightful otters live. They often send packages to their family in Vessel full of smoked fish and other delightful treats.
Though sometimes they like to play tricks on me and have sent boxes full of pebbles and even their youngest, Lochheart, which is a tiring prank.
The view from their home is incredible considering how low it is.
Often I'll tell any beast beginning the long journey to Sunperch's peak to turn away and follow the Thistle Road which runs the length of the Crossing Loch and further north and south. It clearly meant something important to the Titans as there are posts marking it out every few miles and there are ruins all the way along its length.
Strange carved structures stand at the edge of the path and I've found a fair few offerings left here by spiritual beasts and superstitious travelers.
Personally, I like to stand on them. It riles up Father Twitchwhisker, an anxious old mouse who claims to speak to the waterfall nearby. He's a kind soul if a little strange.
My other hobby, besides winding up the locals, is quartz collecting. These beautiful crystals are all over Sunperch and the Thistle Path. Some as small as this piece here.
Some as large as this clump here.
And near the very peak of Sunperch stands my favourite bit. All the white you see here is quartz and it is far too out the way for Orebeaters or Stonestackers to bother with so it stands untouched, unclaimed by anyone but me.
I kid of course, I would never try to claim such beauty as my own. Though I will peck anyone who tries to steal it.
We often have a tendency to complain about that which is familiar to us. We fall into habits and routines, ignoring the good and letting the bad linger. I jest that Sunperch is always misty and cold. In the warm months it is a wonderful place and in the cold it has a special beauty to it. Though you will need to take care as the path can be treacherous to unprepared beasts.
Just ask the local behemoths.
But, no matter how much I complain, when I look back at the land beneath me and really look at it, I feel my heart swell and I can't imagine going anywhere else.
* I've been up Ben Lomond 4 times and still haven't seen the view from the top as the mist always rolls in.
* It takes about 4 - 6 hours to get up and down Ben Lomond from the Rowardennan side, go early.
* The Rowardennan Hotel does the most amazing haggis fritters.
* Parking at Ben Lomond is ~£3.40 for a day ticket
* There are public toilets and a drinking fountain at the foot of the mountain
* The Thistle Path is a reference to the West Highland Way
* Munro is the Scots word for a hill over 3000ft
* There is a Trust Shop further up the path if you want to get a drink or a cake
Thanks for reading!