If you want to know more about the Islands off the North West Coast of Scotland here is excerpts from my Artist book, various writings from my time spent in these beautiful places.
‘Personal accounts of my journeys around the North West coast and The Outer Hebrides.’
For me, the road to the Islands always starts with and leads me through the beautiful Glens, mountainous areas and the true wonders of natural beauty of the North West of Scotland before arriving at Oban where my journey to the Islands begin. The further you travel, usually from the road which leads to Crianlarich, the sights which appear right before you, are more and more wondrous as you are led further into the mountainous glens.
Glen Coe will forever be a place that stands out in memory for me. I ventured through the beautiful Glen on the road to the Islands on the 14th of August 2013, as soon as you see the mountains up ahead you can feel the historic atmosphere, then you are slowly enveloped within the peaks and overwhelming presence of the Glen. It was a misty afternoon, casting low hanging clouds up ahead, so you could only just see the distinct mountain ranges in the distance. There was presence today, a melancholic atmosphere, a feeling that I could not quite put a name to, but it was beautiful none the less. I carried my journey onto the West. I had longer ways to go.
Heading off on my trip from Oban to seek out the atmospheric remote places of beauty, to go Island hopping around the Outer Hebrides on the 15th of August. First stop was the tiny island of Barra, a place of remoteness, the smallest of the Outer Hebrides and true beauty. I travelled around and made my way to Vatersay, the beach was of austere beauty, the clear lookout to tiny Islands and the atmospheric landscapes which surround this small beautiful Island. It took no more than an hour to drive around, I went back and further explored these places, the wild north coastline where the sea crashes over the rocks, the idyllic beaches of the west shore line and the prominent jagged rocks and hills of the southern coast.
Next stop was onto South Uist, stepping off the Ferry, I travelled up this windy place of desolate historic ruins, and it was misty on arrival. I made my way up the twisty road alongside the prominent hills to higher land. The weather did no favours for this place, there was no sign of the wind calming against the stormy shore, so on I went, battling for higher flatter ground. I ventured around the Southern Coastline, stopping now and then to take in the fresh unforgivable air that throws you around the place. The sights were tremendous, as soon as the mist cleared, I was able to see the full dramatic peaks of the mountains of the centre and the East coast. Heading further up, I was able to stop when the elements settled down, at many of the impressive beaches of the West coast on Uist. I travelled through Benbecula and further onto North Uist, the rocky shore line’s luring me further onto to seek out this atmosphere of the place. There was darkness, the landscapes can be dramatically altered within minutes due to the harsh elements and openness of the land.
Leaving from Lochmaddy, the next stop on my Journey was the Isle of Skye. The ferry brought me into Uig late at night so I had no idea of the Island and its sheer scale and beauty. I was awakened at the early dawn, the sun peering through the tent, the weather was tremendous, I wanted to explore. I started off by travelling around the North Coast, seeking out the Islands in the distance and to the Sound of Raasay. This part of the Island was impressive for its historic rocks, mountains and monuments, the Island lured you from one place to the next, the scenery here was beautiful on another scale. I was lead down to Kilt Rock and then onto the Old Man of Storr, taking a few hours out of my day, I climbed right to the top of Storr, looking out onto the mainland, and the surrounding areas of Skye including the magnificent Cuillin Hills which rose in the distance. The cold breeze stinged my face where I was so high above sea level, the atmosphere within the place is made up of the austere beauty of Skye, the mountain ranges and landscapes which are in a league of their own. Climbing so high above the ground within a place that is so famed in Scottish history was an enlightening experience.
I made my way further down the Island to the Fairy pools and the astounding peaks and shorelines that surround this unique area. It is said to be a sacred place, a place of rejuvenation and tranquillity. I was overwhelmed by the fairy pools and the backdrop of the Cuillin Hills. This was a true place of solitary natural beauty.
I worked my way further around the spacious Island, staying close to the places that are of remote beauty and magnificent solitude. Even at the Southern tip of the Island where you feel almost connected to the mainland again, Skye pulls you back, the horizons and the surrounding dominating landscapes bring you back to a feeling of disconnection, a solitude in which you are bound to the land. The exploration of the East of the Island and back to Uig where I stumbled upon, with no pre knowledge, the Fairy Glen. I was bewildered, a place so unique, so hidden and mystical, yet just a few minutes’ walk from the main road. Upon arrival the sun was setting on the moors and I lay down within the hills, the calm of the place washed over me, fairy glen and the way in which the hills are shaped so uniquely, makes way for another realm experience, I was not on Skye anymore, I was far away, enveloped by the land and the atmospheres of folklore which has been so deeply embedded within this place. I forced myself to leave.
From Uig again, I hopped on a night Ferry on a beautiful evening and was on my way to Harris, arriving at Tarbert with no accommodation booked, and hostels full, I decided to venture down to the small Island which is connected (only recently) to Harris, the Island of Scalpay. The prominent textures of the dark rugged mountains, whistling sounds of the wind and the midnight moon casting light over the quiet lonely Island, I found a place to lay for the night and dreamt of the surrounding atmospheres which are so prominent yet so different on every place upon arrival. I explored South Harris looking out to the island of Taransay, and worked my way around the astounding beaches which Harris has to offer, the vast expanses of sand dunes, the turquoise pure waters, juxtaposed to the other side where the landscapes are dramatic, stark and lead you further and further down the windy paths in where you are enveloped within them.
I made my way up to Lewis, the journey was meant for Calanais but still the landscapes again did not prepare me, each place, every few minutes, can be dramatically altered, I had to stop suddenly and frequently to step out, surround myself with this new and never before seen world of pure land expanses where the horizon was adjacent to the surrounding dramatic shorelines. The journey to Calanais was nearly complete.
Calanais on a cold misty day in the late of August 2013, speaking to a family previous to the visit on the Isle of Scalpay, they told me the stones have an electric powerful force and putting your body against them has an indescribable charge which resonates an atmosphere around you. Mine was of great awe, hearing all these stories before, I wanted to have my own significant experience, standing in amongst the ancient megalithic circle, the stones towering above on that dreary day. It was hard to have my own emotions to the place where there has been many representations and accounts of the stones before me, however, being the only person there on that darkened day, I was awakened by the scale and sheer setting of the stones within the backdrop of marshlands around them. I focused my attention within the circle and let my emotions tell me of the significance of this place. It astounded me the atmosphere, the stones seemed to resonate a deep connection to the history and spirituality of this place.
The Islands are calling, I must go.