Friday, 2 July 2010
More Island Memories
As promised, here are some more highlights and images from our three month trip around the Scottish Highlands and Islands last summer. Well, you don't want to hear about our recent preoccupation with an ant invasion, and how we gained an even more intimate knowledge of the innards of our Airstream, do you?
When we returned from Barra to the conjoined islands of the Uists and Benbecula we spent a couple of days driving around them, taking in the strange, loch-pitted landscape. We would do the end-of-the-road thing that we love to do. When you're following the coastline, or on an island, you may as well follow a road to its end. You might find nothing. You might find a great view.
We were so lucky to have sunny weather in which to enjoy the openness of the scenery. With a landscape this flat, surrounded by sea, I bet you can get a right old pelting when the wind picks up. Mind you, makes you feel alive doesn't it?
We took in the monument at Flora MacDonald's birthplace, the statue of Our Lady of the Isles and a whole bunch of drystone ruins. Those old buildings must take hundreds of years to topple, even if you do borrow a few stones to build your new house. Typically, it looks like you build your new house next to your old one, move in and let the old one fade away very, very slowly.
On our second day of exploring we pointed ourselves northwards to North Uist and Berneray. We found a stone circle which had eluded us a few days before. Pobull Fhinn got an enthusiastic write-up in one of our Aubrey Burl books and so we had another look. You can walk from the Barpa Langass chambered cairn, or via a footpath next to the Langass Lodge Hotel.
I know these old stones don't touch everyone but believe me, they are pretty much always in a beautiful spot. Pobull Fhinn overlooks Loch Langass, which glistened on the day we were there, with hills beyond. And anyway, you have to savour and respect something that's probably been there for about four thousand years. And respect to the people of a place who just leave things be for all that time.
Further north we strode across the stepping stones of the causeway to Dun an Sticir, a broch in a loch. Then on to the Balranald RSPB nature reserve where we saw Lapwings, Terns, Oyster Catchers,
and we endured an overpowering stench of rotting seaweed, reminiscent of soiled nappies. Sometimes the sea air palpably fills you with the invisible life force, sometimes it makes you gag.
Here's a view to uplift and to end on a more pleasant note.