Friday, 27 August 2010

Scourie and the storms

Heading northwards, I stopped at the viewpoint on Struie hill which looks over the Kyle of Sutherland towards the far north west of Scotland. I could see that the wilderness where I was seeking solitude from my stresses lay under a heavy sky. I began to feel very alone as I headed into the dark distance.

I drove on through the rain without seeing the scenery, I was lost in my own thoughts as the mist swirled around the hills, hiding them from view. Eventually I arrived at Scourie. The centre of civilisation in the far north west of Scotland. I wondered about staying on the campsite in the village, just so I didn’t feel totally alone. I resisted the temptation and parked at the car park which overlooks Scourie Bay and the village.

It was blowing a gale, so to pass the afternoon I went a walk along the cliffs to the point at Rubha Shios. As I watched the waves breaking on the rocks, I was glad I wasn’t at sea in my inflatable boat. It wouldn’t last two minutes in those conditions.

I was walking on the sheltered side of the bay so the waves were not big in the off shore wind. I watched the dark squalls streak across the sea’s surface towards Handa Island.

As I continued my walk the sun occasionally illuminated the barren landscape making it look a little less hostile and desolate.

Looking back at Scourie village from the point, I thought that man had not made much of a mark in this landscape. It was still ruled by the forces of nature that created it. I felt very insignificant in the vastness of the wilderness.

Looking south from the point, I was now facing directly into the storm. All traces of mankind were now blown away.

It was the power of the sea that ruled this landscape. The noise of the wind in my ears was that loud, it drowned the noise of my thoughts. I was struggling to even breathe in the face of the storm.

Wave after wave sent spume high in the air as the water slowly carved the rocks into deep coves and clefts. I wondered if even the limpets could hang onto those rocks in such conditions.

I headed back to the car and looked for my own campsite. I found a little spot off the road on the way to Loch Laxford and set up camp. I have an airbed which I put in the back of my estate car when the rear seats are put down. I pile my belongings and inflatable boat equipment on the ground and peg a tarpaulin over it in case of rain. It had been too rough for fishing for my dinner so I cooked some tinned food on my little gas stove.

I did look for wild food to help supplement my bought food but only found a handful of raspberries. Although they couldn’t make a meal, they added a lovely flavour to my breakfast cereal.

To pass the last of the evening, I climbed a little hill beside my campsite and surveyed the start of Loch Laxford. I was determined to explore it in the inflatable boat come morning.

I then bedded down in the car for the night. That’s when the second storm hit. I had taken my mobile phone with me in case of an emergency. The emergency had now arrived. My youngest daughter phoned to tell me my eldest daughter had just been taken into hospital. The rain started to pour and the wind started to howl again as I tried to sleep in the dark. I was too far in the wilderness to visit my daughter that night.

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