Farsight from the campsite

29th May 1999 – Isle of Skye, Scotland

I’m sitting by the shores of where the Atlantic Ocean is hugged into an embrace by the land to create Loch Brittle, listening as the waves lull to and from the shore and sea-birds call out across the sand. The sound, the sand, the sea, the wind: it makes the place seem solitary, but I have not strayed far from the campsite at Glen Brittle, where hurried preparations of flames and pans clang to herald nightfall.

The glory of the late-spring sun appears and disappears behind each cloud, and in the distance is the enchantment of islands – Rum and Canna with their magnetism. Every island stories I have ever read as a child, swirl and bubble like currents in my mind.

Behind me, rise the Cuillins, somehow still dark in the sunshine, with a crown of cloud at the summit. Skye is truly an island of hypnotic colour of light playing with patterns on rock, sand, water and grass. Around every corner of green hills smote by sunshine, looms a misty, shadowy mountain, and always, always, always, the ever-changing sea on the doorstep.

Even with the force of my whole imagination, right now, I can’t ever imagine a place more beautiful. I never thought I would be here. Even after dreaming and dreaming from a whole world away, of what Skye, Arrival has not dulled my perceptions. The smell, the sunlight, the sounds, the islands, the essence, impossible to tame in photograph or word….and yet my favourite writer comes close…so close:

You have been in the charmed West yourself; have seen the gloom and shine of the mountains that throw their shadow on the sea, have heard the waves whisper along that haunted shore with none love save with passion, and none, loving can bear to be long parted from. You, unlike so many who delight only in the magic of sunshine and cloud, love this dear land where the mists drive across the hillsides, and the brown torrents and in spate, and the rain and the black wind make a gloom upon every loch, and fill with the dusk of storm, every strath, and glen, and corrie. Not otherwise can one love it aright.

From “Dedication”, Pharais, Fiona Macleod

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