Lands End to Cape Wrath

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Lands End to Cape Wrath
 

KINLOCHBERVIE TO DURNESS
Destination, message in a bottle, the last hillside, Sandwood Bay, Cape Wrath, Durness.

Tuesday evening 16 August.

In tent at Sandwood Bay,         


Night spot 119, Sandwood bay.

Luxurious flat dry grass almost a Lawn. So many nights recently on damp lumpy moss and heather but this evening on a high point between Sandwood Loch and the sand dunes and the sea. Fresh breeze, occasional fleeting sun.

Forecast correct; the rain had cleared by 10.30 and by 11.00 I was away out along the last stretch of road out towards Sheigra.

Trying to get hold of where I am. Walking slowly and frequently sitting on cold rocks by the road, parking my pack to try and connect with the idea of a destination and ending.

Going out to see if I could find one; if such a thing there might be out there along the cliffs. Struggling to understand that it’s all about to end and slowing down all the time not really wanting to get there. I don’t believe that I have really done all this, got to this point, walked all all this way.

Beside the road on the way out of Kinlochbervie I passed sad bleaty sheep pens. Wooden pens packed with lambs now almost fully grown. Lambs all collected together from the fields where their mums still grazed. 110 days ago in Cornish lanes I met herds of lambs and mums on their way out to spring pastures and now happy childhood all over. Skippy together in the hills all summer now for the chop.

I decided not to take the path that lead directly to Sandwood Bay; it looked like it would be busy with walkers and I felt I still or more than ever wanted to be on my own in the wilds. So I carried on following the road to Sheigra, the last village, past a small collection of squat white houses and stone barns, on to a  short track leading up to a gate, the end of the road; where the pavement turns to sand. (With a one way ticket to the land of truth).

Out across wide flat moors to follow the cliffs north. This landscape a complete contrast to the rocks and tangled labyrinths of  the last few days.

At one point I sat with a view south east across Loch na Gainimh, a kilometre or so over from the Sandwood Bay path. Tiny specks of people walking the path, so gradually covering the ground around the far shore of the loch. That is how I’ve been; 4 months a tiny speck scratching a line along and through so many landscapes. Hardly moving but somehow I’ve arrived here; 1 day from the top and I can’t take this in!

6 months ago, February I was walking down a wintry track through the sandy heath of the Devils Punch Bowl in Surrey and finding myself skipping and shouting at the idea of a path that would lead me on and on all summer; insatiable.

Well I’ve eaten it up, it’s gone through me.

And also I wasn’t ready!

Mid afternoon I was walking out around the cliffs; Rubh a Bhuachaille, tight low heather and a new dense low shrub unknown to me something like cotoneaster? Sun on the sea and suddenly round the corner and not so far away was the Cape Wrath light house, I could sea Cape Wrath, just along a ways up there. I wasn’t ready. Not fair!

But Sandwood Bay here is very groovy and huge; living up to descriptions and expectations. Combinations of churning rocky sea and open white beach, tufty little sand hills, wilderness behind with a huge brooding open loch sitting sinister making a striking contrast to the busy sea shore; sand water sky. Black throated divers patrolling the loch, and fulmars on the cliffs as I walked up this afternoon again; back to the cliffs outside Boscastle 15 weeks ago, still getting air.

No road and 3 other tents.

People keep asking me: what you gonna do? How you ever gonna go back to London?

Rain forecast for tomorrow then sunny on Thursday. Hang out here tomorrow, cosy in tent and wait for the sun? I don’t know.

 

Wednesday 17 August

Strange Salad

Today the weather has conspired to keep me here so I could invent a new lunch; hard to eat but very delicious. Also to play my harmonica and dance and write.

This I realise is the first time I’ve had a day off camped out in a wild spot. Only once before I had a day off in my tent and that was on day 19, the 8 May in the campsite in the Quantocks; ? miles ago.

You’ve got your tin of sardines, your oat cakes, your mix of nuts and raisins; (today mine will be walnuts, chopped dates and flaked almonds), your dried organic apricots and your strong cheddar. So that has been my regular kind of lunch on the move.

Today and for the first time (a day of firsts), all these ingredients went into my little frying pan/plate together. Mix up and chop around: looks fantastic but a bit of a heavy dry chew so a dose of olive oil to lubricate it. Very delicious and it would be improved with an apple chopped in but not in the bag today.

Washed down with a mug of bog myrtle tea. Interesting food to entertain me, exciting even (racing pulse).


Strange salad.

So still here at Sandwood Bay ten past three pm. I hadn’t really anticipated this day off or thought past: well it may be best cos of the weather, have a good uplifting big sky and wind going on for the destination day.

Realising this morning how right and proper it is to be stalled here for a moment in this very excellent top of the world place. Pause before the summit; take a breath, make my peace with it and properly at last establish dancing on this trip.

Been dancing much of the way up when the energy was flowing; stepping out to the rhythm of the hills. 1.2.3.4 left right left right.

                            You in the   walking   window                                                        the          

1    .    2    .    3    .    4    .     /1    .   2    .    3     .    4     .    /1     .    2     .    3     .    4    .

 

walking     window                                                               slow               walking   win-

1    .    2    .    3    .    4    .     /1    .   2    .    3     .    4     .    /1     .    2     .    3     .    4    .

                                                     

   dow                                     slow              walking    win-       dow

1    .    2    .    3    .    4    .     /1    .   2    .    3     .    4     .    /1     .    2     .    3     .    4    .

 

A long thin forward only dance but  today it’s been kind of shuffling and joggling in circles and squares; out in the rain on a wide open beach doing that surely vital and fundamental of human activities with the music that is just always there in your head. Take it down into your body.

Drama:

It’s raining raining all day and what if the outflow of Sandwood Loch rises till I can’t cross it? I’m now looking out through the tent flap south east over to the wide open bowl of the loch catchment; sodden peat moorland pouring water into the loch, Strath Shinary and only one way out for all that water through a darling swirling dark red torrent that cuts through the sand and under the cliff at the far end, the north east of the beach. To cross it is the only route north up the coast without a grand detour inland.


Sandwood Loch out flow cutting through the beach.

I saw 2 guys try to cross this morning and turned back but I don’t think they wanted to take their boots off or get their feet wet. Tomorrow morning it might be too high for my sandals and back and forth ritual or even the commitment to wet boots. so I could be stuck here waiting for the level to drop; how would that be?

First reaction: well that would be fine, I’ve got the time and perhaps that would be right; give it to the planet to decide; easy boy, turn off the juice and then……

Ok, now you can finish.

I have lots of food but not and inexhaustible supply.

I have:

  • 1 tin of sardines
  • 3 packets of 10 Nairn coarse oat cakes
  • A good chunk of mature Cheddar
  • A good bag of dried apricots
  • A good bag of nuts and dried dates
  • 1/3 of a big sized Snickers
  • 1 date flap jack
  • 2/3 of a ? gram Deli-continental Fruitcake with stem ginger 
  • 1 200gram packet of Real Lancashire Eccles Cakes
  • 1 small tin pink salmon
  • 1 200gram Chorizo Pamplona
  • ½ 250gram bag of noodles
  • 1 onion
  • 4 dehydrated meals
  • Plenty of sundries: sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, herbs, chilli, olive oil, salt and pepper, stoke cubes.
  • 1 sachet hot chocolate
  • 10 odd sachets of coffee
  • Plenty; a week odd, supply of fuel
  • ¾ of a 20cl bottle of Whyte and Mackay Smooth Scotch Whiskey, double matured
  • A good sprig of bog myrtle
  • 6 ½  energy bars
  • 2 packets Sesame Snaps
  • 2/3 of a 95gram pack of Mrs Tilly’s Vanilla Fudge

Blimey. So a possible I think 5 evening meals pushing it, 3 lunches and 3 breakfasts.

That would be eating adequately, even quite well and beyond that it would be surviving on energy bars and stretching it out. Should I go into rationing mode, spread it out and decide I have enough for 5 days?

Once I get across I could be down into Durness in a bit more than a day at normal speed, but I want to hang out a while at Cape Wrath then wander into Durness; maybe do one or two hills on the way. I’d like to have at the least  2 days from here so I can afford to stay here for another two days ish.

What do you think about that?

If the rain eases off I might wander over to the crossing point and ponder. Right now there’s a puddle forming on the lawn.

But tension building: maybe I should up and cross right now while I can? Do the inside tent pack up in the rain routine, cross the cross over and back into the then wet tent; Mmm.

6.20

I just went over to have a look, wander through the dunes to the out flow river. It’s 75 odd yards at it’s widest, rippling hard over smooth heavy stones before narrowing, getting deep and cutting through the pristine low tide sand piled under the cliffs by high tide waves.  

The level has risen an inch or so since I was there at lunch time; I left a broken piece of yellow plastic crate as a marker. (Sandwood bay is not free of rubbish).

It looks Ok though and I think it’s going to have to go up a good deal to make it impassable. (Oh Yeah!)

Puddle in the lawn now knocking at the door.

The sense of isolation and distance soared earlier when I heard on the radio that tomorrow is exam results day. Hob will be getting news and Vivienne will most likely be doing the getting anxious for him. No phone signal here, (barely a Radio Scotland signal).

I’ve buggered off good and proper. Can’t be around to hear and celebrate and support or anything; not good timing with that. No one out here in the rain for the day from Kinlochbervie so no way of accosting someone to pass on a good luck message. Hope that on the way over and up tomorrow I will return to the Orange Universe.

10.30

Zippaty-doo-daa in my bag. As forecast the weather lifted at 7.30 ish. Evening sun bringing Sandwood bay to life, sea of wavy golden marram grass, big absolutely sun set, warm breeze, still 60° so plan to up early and get going.

Ready now, breath taken but what will tomorrow be? What would be a fitting climax? Should it be the best day? Does it matter anti climax?

Why am I sitting here writing writing all this stuff?  Investing so much time in all this writing, making it a major part of my daily routine and it’s like the taking pictures all the time. Record it all just for the future so I can keep all this and somehow make it bigger with grandiose ideas of a book and being

A WRITER.

I find myself thinking about a day and how I’m going to spend it in terms as if it’s already written. As if the writing is creating the experience. It has somehow become very important. But I’m enjoying it and it’s given a structure to evening times that have a lot of space and can get lonely, keep me busy and it’s compelling if I think about it as a book, how does it all fit together, I’m getting very into that; planning the structure and energy of it. It starts to grow, ideas pop up and fit into one another.

I’m writing because: I don’t want to let it all slip off and away, because I want to make the absolute most if it but is that to do with expanding myself, why not just let it be and let it go. Fill up the space, emptiness: nothing is ever enough.


Sandwood sunset.

 

Thursday 18 August

Sun Set Cape Wrath

Two Holy things I do every day

I think you know what they are I said

Two Holy things I do every day

I think you know what they are

 

I put my boots on

I take my boots off

I put my boots on

I take my boots off

I put my boots on

I take my boots off

You know they both can make me happy.

A large dolphin leaping, just once, fleeting here and gone right in that twinkly orange band from the sinking sun along the water to me. On a high cliff facing west and over my right shoulder the sea also. I can go no further that way. This is it.

Up and away across the loch outflow by 9.15. Nothing to have worried about, not today anyway.

Out across lovely open rolling moors, down and up deep rocky ravines taking black water west down to the sea. Gentle going between flat rocks and tight grass. Low mats of heather through bogs that needed gaiters but only just. Cheese grater collections of black peat gullies.

Altogether benign and easy going stroll.

Grey and overcast as I climbed away from Sandwood Bay, by mid-day lifted off and bright sunshine warm breeze. Cape Wrath in bright sunshine and warm breeze!  And another shift in gear today: no path to follow, you make your own way  around hills and along cliff tops. I was riding it, springing across soft turf, skating the hills, riding the contours. Build momentum on that slope, swoop down to lift over that shoulder, once again just following my nose.

All your life you been walking

And this is where you got to baby

Tell me what you see

Lunch high up 230m, Sithean na h-lolaireich, 4 ½ miles by crow from that spot; my destination. Realising by then what today had to be: just another good days walking. That’s what I’ve been doing, carry on doing it. Just 2 things going on while I was having lunch:

  1. It was very beautiful, I had it all: warm breeze looking north sunshine on sea and cliffs and swooping hills out to the white point of the light house.
  2. I was going to have an afternoons walk across that country.


Afternoons walking.

That is what I had left to do and so realising I am going to miss that working hard pushing along covering the ground feeling, realising I am going to miss it and lots of other things. Having a look and saying hello to all the things I’m going to miss and saying goodbye to them. ………………………….

Into black water mountain stream and dance naked in the sunshine (hallelujah) for maybe the last time. it came together just so with wide open grassy valley and there are ways of making good selfish hedonistic and blameless use of your time on earth.

Showers looming by 4.00 and sweeping over as I closed in on the light house but 5.30 they were passed and I could go no further north. That was it.

Arrival.


Destination.

Anyone here was going to get the whole story. If they came within 100 yards I was going to let them have it till they ran away. I was hoping that is, that there would be people here to dump it on and yup; a Coast Guard man father and daughter renovating lighthouse buildings gave me a laid back welcome and cup of tea in their caravan. Just right suffering my story and talk of living out on the rock and spotting basking sharks from the top of the cliffs.

I wandered around and gazed out especially at the sea ripping north round the cape and reefs of rocks a little way off, leaving a churning wake stretching on on out towards Iceland and the ships passing on that way, all shapes and sizes riding the current. A clear calm evening left me searching around for a spot with a breath of wind but this wild Cape Wrath still and very midgey; Buzz Aldrin cooking.

Looks like it will be a clear night so I might go to sleep fully clothed and set alarm ready to crawl out and check out the firmament in the small hours. Cassiopeia.

I’ve spent the summer walking; do I want to go home now? I think I want to go home now but I’m not sure what that means. Home will have changed and I will have changed so it’s as much into the unknown as all of this.

But it’s been my summer, I’ve had this summer. It often happens that summers pass; they’ve gone and you didn’t get hold of them. I did get hold of this one, summer 2005 April to August was mine.

 

Friday August 19

Extraordinary these days at Cape Wrath: the most wind blasted no tree country but last night and all day today not a breath and I think the most Midge-horrific of the whole trip. This morning a quick get away from my spot under the wall of the light house, out of sweltering 7.30 tent too hot to breakfast in and too midgey to hang around so just like 6 weeks ago on Kintyre it was away to find some wind up high to have breakfast.

Buzz Aldrin again this evening in perfect clear blue and beautiful sun setting.


Last night spot. Beinn an Duibhe.

Camped on Beinn an Duibhe, 220m above the Kyle of Durness. Sun has just slid in to the sea and this is probably the last up top get up to spend the night up there. The last whole days walking; east following the cliffs around from Cape Wrath. At midday down across the pristine sands at Kearvaig.

4 months ago tomorrow I left Lands End with cliffs and blue sea and white crashing waves. Here again and now the same high rock roost. Heather and the rumble of waves below. From there I walked to here (lest you forget).

I was having the notion that I was going to miss the hard days sore feet walking and thought I could do it a bit more; push on past Durness for Tongue.


Looking east across the Kyle of Durness.

But hey, today was a good enough hard walk; big ups and downs; along the highest sea cliffs in Europe and a good firm even underfoot like yesterday. So I went hard up and around the top of hills along the way Sgribhis-bheinn, to make the most of it. Will I ever feel as fit and strong and young again? Well no of course not.

“DO NOT TOUCH ANY MILITARY DEBRIS

IT MAY EXPLODE AND KILL YOU”

To the point. Walking through firing ranges with word from the Coast Guard man at Cape Wrath that it would be safe with no firing till September just don’t touch anything. I came across craters and shattered rock and shrapnel and old cars presumably left on hill sides for target practice.

Craters and shell cases also on the bed of the lochen I swam in at 6.00 this evening just down the hill from here when the sun was still warm. Perhaps 50 yards across, just out of my depth out in the middle, crystal clear down to the black peat bottom. Imagine the delight: Swimming slowly round in circles on my back; to have been out and walking all summer, made it through all those scenes and shifting ups and downs, cold cold water soothing aching feet. Purified and empty.

And check this out:


Words from Inuk.

I came across a message in a bottle.

In the rocks on the west side of Keirvaig beneath circling Arctic Skuas a plastic bottle sealed tight and dry inside. Right now I don’t have a clue what it says or where it might be from but guessing maybe Iceland or The Pharaoh Islands? Goodness knows. When I get home I’ll email Inuk, some bloke marooned on an island with his lap top.

Very chuffed to bump into it though, sitting waiting for me on my path, absolutely inevitable that I was going to bump into it even as I took that first step at Lands End; just like the lucky silver tea spoon and the rusty for ever open padlock and the strangely marked Forest of Bowland fossil or rock carving and the Nicole Farhi charcoal grey Kashmir polo neck sweater. Which by the way when dried out in Kinlochbervie does fit and suit me rather well ; to wear at work I think.

So plan now that almost all is done? From up here in evening light I can see the track down to the ferry across the Kyle of Durness. The lights of Durness beginning to twinkle.

Tomorrow I will make my way along to there after a breakfast of Date and Stem Ginger cake. The very last of the food (apart from 2 dehydrated beef stroganoffs and 2 or 3 oat cakes, 2 or 3 dried apricots and half a hand full of dates and nuts).  If I’m across on the ferry by lunch I shall hopefully find a pub and eat and drink heartily and maybe decide what to do. I spoke to Vivienne this afternoon, returning to signal land at 2.30 to hear of A.S. level success for Hob. That’s good, didn’t need me hanging around bothering him.

I shall be home on Thursday; back to London in 6 days time. Six days to make the journey, decompression, back to the surface, quarantine. Check I’m not carrying any nasty freedom and adventure germs back into real life.

Miles and miles:

Rocky up and down paths along cliff tops – long stair cases cut into the hillside down and up across deep gullies – muddy dark and sloppy well trodden paths through woodlands on clay – out across pasture between stiles – stile to stile following the perimeter of arable planted fields – winding lanes between high hedges or stone walls – straight lanes between fences and fields out across reclaimed estuary land or fen – along the top of dykes straight on above the fields beside the water – between stiles up steep hillside pasture and a gate out onto the heather – across the heather on well trodden peaty paths or narrow elusive sheep tracks – stepping stones across rocky streams – across the bridge – grassy verge or gravely edge of wide tarmac busy road – up and down in and out following the course of the stream widening into river – over the stile across the field disappearing path into scrub and nettles and struggle through hedge and barbed wire – wide graded forest track through dense spruce and opening out through recently cut clearing – railway track stepping sleeper to sleeper – up and down rocky path through low trees and in and out of gullies down off the top of high moorland – forest track becoming bog impassable detour round winding and pushing through dense spruce – all day on farm track tractor ruts out beside the fence across high sheep pasture – serious walker path well looked after winding well used up to the pass and round on that shoulder – wide sandy bay bee-line across – rocky shore line slippery sea weed – pavement through suburbs into the shops – along between gardens concealed by high wooden fences leylandii – across the car park through the gate up into the trees – over the stile out onto the top and 330° across the heather to those rocks – same bearing on across bouncy sphagnum to pick up the path down down and round the east shore of the loch – slowly through high tussocky grass stumbling into sudden ruts and try to work up towards higher dryer ground –

zigzag follow your nose up to there and cut round the west of the summit to drop down to above the cliff then and round past the head of that gully – follow the contour until it opens out and offers a route along beneath that cliff – follow the east bank up stream until it becomes narrow enough to jump across – just head straight out north east across there 2 miles till you hit that road.        

 

Saturday 20 August

If your best day

Was gonna be your last day

A would you like it like that

Your last day was gonna be your best day

 

If your last day

Was gonna be your best day

I think I like it like that 

Your best day was gonna be your last day

You sleep through without waking till 8.00. Rising into consciousness there’s a gentle flapping of the tent; a breeze to blow them away Hallelujah!

Clear and blue as you un-zip and peer out; sea extending to everywhere blue and shimmering. Wash in clear rain pools lying on the pink quartz, stretch with white billows drifting off mountains dangling into the void from between your legs.

You can see, it’s clear what you have to do today:

Walk down from the top of this hill; a mile and a half odd across rolling heather to pick up the road. Follow that down to the ferry point, catch the ferry across the loch then walk across to the village; another couple of miles to get into the youth hostel. That’s it, that’s the day.

Only thing to watch out for, word again from the Cape Wrath Coast Guard man; the last ferry will be around three but no time table as it depends on the tides so get there in good time.

Breakfast is what you have left; Mrs Tilley’s date and stem Ginger fruit cake with the last dried dates and walnuts, black coffee.

The sun shines the wind blows and the world all around entertains. Friends ring and reply to excited texts.

Last night in the full moon light you built a cairn on the flat rock summit. This morning you idle around putting in finishing touches; actually all to postpone, find reasons not to take down the tent for the last time. Oh blimey.

That moment arrives however, 11.30 it’s all away and lifted and strapped tight, it’s a wrench; everything now is for the last time. This is the last day.


Setting off for last day.

The gift of heather and rocks and enough gradient to walk and feel as though you’re walking. Enough up and down and across black water rocky mountain streams and round gatherings of winding gullies on open black peat.

Tuning into the intense focus if not obsessive pre-occupation with the surface of the earth. What it is your feet are carrying you across, how it feels to be interacting with it, what it does to your senses. Crunch and smell on bog myrtle, dry heather and lying on stomach hand at arms length down into the wet sphagnum; dig around. 

12.20 and you are zigzagging down a steep open south facing slope into a narrow valley. The Daill River flowing east out into the Kyle of Durness.

This is where you leave the moor and step onto the road. That was the last of the wild country. Pause for a moment; Blimey! This is the road out, the road home and back into life and whatever next. So Hey.

Shout and leap onto it and run.

Over the bridge and up and round, past the sentry post and high above the Kyle of Durness In bright sunshine, tide dropping leaving sweeping channels between sand bars. Miraculous and perfect all laid out like that first day on Kintyre walking over to Tarbet.

Changing weather and storms and grey and dodge the showers is great (in fact all summer to celebrate the wonders of British always changing weather theatre in and under it of it) but when it really lifts off and shines and the mountains and the sea are just there going with the urge to run; for the first time on the last day; lolloping with swaying pack.


Sun on the Kyle of Durness.

South along the road a couple of miles following above the coast down to the ferry point. Two o’clock sitting on the slipway eating the very last food; oat cakes and apricots. A ten minute ferry ride and coffee in the Cape Wrath Hotel; too late for lunch.

And then the urge to get into that blue shining water so check this out: 1300 (?) miles and feeling just so fit and strong and light and empty.

Celebration: Running running and dancing on the sand and singing and swimming hard with the current to celebrate the scrawny body.

My body has done for me

All that I asked

And now I’ve got here                                               Hallelujah

And boots for walking have brought me all this whole way, tread to spare so second pair not required, draft papers not sent. How can I ever take them off?

Time and distance running out now.

Due east up from the road and suddenly you’re on limestone, with pavement chunks protruding through tight grazed grass and heather. Schists and Gniesses and sandstone for so long; all very lovely but now a splash of something different.

Up and over past Loch Caladail with tumbling stone dykes cutting out across the water, 1 or 2 low hills to romp over and there it is

Five forty five o’clock and the end of your walk. This is the end; the gate into the Durness Youth Hostel dancing wildflower garden; open and walk through and it’s all in the past.


Durness Youth Hostel.

And that was suddenly very heavy. I sat down on the verge across the road and looked at the gate. Notice saying:

“Please keep closed”

Go through and close it behind me and that’s that. No way to get back to this walking wonderland, gone, exile, amputated. 10 minutes and tears and ten deep breaths and I was still sitting there. How could I end it? So sad to loose it all. I was feeling Ok and excited about returning to my people and my life with plans and a severely shifted head but: light and strong and free; solid and free; will I ever feel that way again?

But eventually through the gate and down the path and as if by magic, wisdom on the wall in my youth hostel dormitory and wonderful sympathetic understanding from Cameron the hostel manager:

“Everything that has a beginning has an ending. Make your peace with that and all will be well”.

“Just as a snake sheds it’s skin, we must shed our past over and over again”

My task now clear, letting go and leaving it alone. Move on.

I buried my compass. This afternoon under a large stone at the start of the tracking off east out of Durness and up between Beinne Ceannabeinne and Meall Meadhonnach. The path to follow along the north coast towards John-O-Groats.

Oh yes part of me would still like to have made it all the way there; another week or 10 days, unfinished. But there it is waiting for me and word is that to follow the twisty coast all the way is a fine walk and easy going short grass for a lot of the way. So little Silva® friend… waiting for my return.

And what else has been left behind? 4 months out; a fire break, a strip of open ground with no fuel to keep it burning. Some things won’t make it across.

The first thing must be hair on my head. I have loved having no hair and I have resolve at the moment to return bald to life. Maybe that resolve will fade or become meaningless; but for now.

The second thing is a bent and twisted length of brass. I’ve been playing the trumpet badly for 25 years; torturing other band members, driving crazy my family and pinning myself to a bed of nails.

“You realise you don’t have to do that any more,”

“Excuse me?”

“You realise you don’t have to do that any more,”

“Oh alright then, thank you”.

Tears though.

And Holy Moses fingers crossed, haemorrhoids. (Moses holy fingers crossed). A cure for haemorrhoids. My bottom it seems the barometer for healthiness. Human being made to be so so all day hard working and no chance for the swollen itch and burn of sedentary life.

Things that I will miss:

  • Being outside all the time. A roof is very handy but the sky!
  • And along with that; the weather. Knowing it and being friends with it whatever because there is no option and it’s there anyway to entertain
  • Being on my own. People I know I love and need but it is so simple to be alone.
  • The sea, rocks, mountains, water all the physical planet stuff.
  • And all the organic processes with that even perhaps midges, red stag barking bog myrtle tea.
  • The freedom of course but with that the discipline of having to keep it all together with trust and observance of the system. Being super doper organised.
  • Having it all ahead. For so long this has been something to look forward to and then being in it, doing it and being this person, just the walking man fit and full on fierce for the hills.

rain time free strong sun sky earth legs

Go out and see if it was the truth.

If it was the truth:

One foot in front of the other under the sky; the reason for being on planet earth. 

THE LAST HILLSIDE.

Approximately 20° slope south facing. The final drop of from the shoulder extending south from the rocky summit of Beinne an Duibhe 220m above the western shore of the Kyle of Durness.

An open and level hillside, a bright cloudless mid morning, dry even ground dropping 50m down from a level shelf to the River Daill. The northern side of a steep little river valley, steep enough to demand a zigzag or diagonal descent with a heavy pack. Easy and firm underfoot picking a path through the Heather.

To the west (to my right as I sit half way down the slope), the valley winds back up into the moors, the river 30m below me, perhaps 20 feet across with a couple of big swooping meanders and low cliffs.

500m to the east (to my left), the valley opens out with a small bay and a low tide beach into The Kyle of Durness and the sea. There’s a farm house there at the mouth of the valley, with a little group of sheep and a fence around there on the north bank of the river beyond a metal bridge.

The hillside has a low covering of vegetation, no trees and only small areas of rocky earth open to the sky. Dominant are the tight low evenly spaced dark clumps of heather with small blue flowers in bloom, Calluna Vulgaris.   Up to 8 inches tall and somehow looking like they’re arranged in rows but I think that’s a reflection of their regular spacing.

Occasional small rocks amongst the Heather, (Lewisian Gniess?).

There is a concentration of gorse bushes in a band along the lower part of the hill and a few dotted around higher up. These are the tallest plants, 3 to 4 feet high.

A misty covering of thin grass with seed heads a foot or so high waving in the wind and bog myrtle; evenly spaced individual plants not quite as tall as the grass about one every square metre.

And that’s it.

At the foot of the hill on the north side of the river is the road. 

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