The sedge warbler had his laugh, waking me (a city girl) at dawn with the sounds of an electronic amusement arcade. The drilling, trilling, clicking of the vox apparatus. Flies approach the midge-screen; some retreat some rest. Even the bluebells, with the help of the wind, limber up for the day.
At Sweeney’s Bothy I thought about enclosure, silence and ritual. I read Donna Haraway’s Making Kin Not Population: Reconceiving Generations. She writes towards “multi-modal, multi-species, multi-situated practices” by evoking the chthonic, that is relating to or inhabiting the underworld: “I call these times, our times, the Chthulucene to emphasise the ongoing powers and processes of mortal beings that come together to resist the curses and blandishments of the Plantationocene, Anthropocene, and Capitalocene.” I read this in my head and pondered it whilst seated on the composting toilet.
Nuair a bha mi air Eilean Èige chord gu mòran rium. Shiubhail mi an sin air treana, bata-aiseag agus baidhsagal. Bha dùil agam a bhith leantaileach. Chòisich mi mòran timcheall ‘s mun chuairt an sgìre, air na traighean Camas na Sgiotaig agus Laig. Chaidh mi suas gu Bidean na Tighearna, Sgorr an fhàraidh, Guala Mhòr, Bealaich Thuilm agus an Sgurr fhèin càit’ an chunnaic mi an Loch nam Bàn Mòra agus deagh sheallaidhean air an siar ‘s a dheas. Tha an fearann mar chorp, na ainmean air feadh, guala ‘s teanga, bidean ‘s druim, aodann ‘s ceann. Cha robh fios agam air seann sgeulachdan, mar feadhainn mu dheidh an t-seann ainm air an eilean fhèin. Bha fios agam air eachraidh ‘sa Cogadh Theàrlaich agus na Fuadach nan Gàidheal ach cha robh fios air Cogadh Mòr agus an chaill ‘sa sgirean Cleàdail, cha do thilleadh fàisg air leth daoine no barrachd…… Ionnsaich mi mu dhèidh an ainmean monaidhean Rhùm, mar Trollabhal agus Asgabhal, ainmean Lochlannaich, àite càit an rodh iad airson fiadh, linntean air ais. An Gall-Ghàidheal, ar sinnsearan. Chòrd an cothruim cuideachd gu mòran rium a bhith ann am Bothan Shuibhne, abair àite, abair sgeul, an leabaidh ann an duileagan, na ceangalan aòsda, seann nòs, cànan ‘s cultar, seann ‘s freumhan ann an àrainneachd fhèin.
In early September I spent a week in Sweeney's Bothy, on the Isle of Eigg. It had long been my dream to spend some solitary time in this part of the world, but as the week approached I became a little anxious. The proximity to nature and the lack of distraction were alluring, but what if I suddenly realised my power lay in connection? Travelling north over two days to get to the island, I felt a slow-growing sense of peace and homecoming. The gobsmacking beauty of the west highlands passing the train made my heart swell - the swollen rivers and the pouring rain didn't even dampen my awe. I had very little real idea of what awaited, but I knew it would envelop me, and for a short time it would be mine alone.
I was both nervous and excited to visit the Isle of Eigg as it’s not an environment I've experienced before - especially the lack of resources and contact with the outside world.
When we applied to Bothy Project we intended to spend our week focused on two main things; to experiment more with how we make maps and to see what happens when you spend a prolonged period of time in one place. Our usual method of map-making involves a lot of research and planning and sees us visiting a predetermined place once or twice. We naively imagined that spending a whole week in the Cairngorms would result in some more profound knowledge of the area. We also imagined returning home with a handful of maps all drastically different to anything we'd ever created before. If we had set out to achieve just these two things, then we may have left feeling like our experiment had failed. Yet what we left with - the other random lessons we learnt along the way and the unpredicted maps we decide to make - out-weighed the vague ideas we had set out to achieve.
I’m five months pregnant. / I’m sitting in my car in a layby on the A9. / There’s steam coming from the engine. / It's raining. / Every time another vehicle drives past my car shakes. / I'm waiting for the AA. / This is not how I imagined my week in the wilderness beginning.
I arrived on Eigg in the afternoon having travelled for close to seventeen hours from my home in south London. I received a warm welcome from Lucy who drove me in her electric buggy to Sweeny's Bothy and dropped me off. It was only after I had unpacked and begun to settle in that I realised it was technically 'night-time' but that it was not in the least bit dark outside.
Lucy Wayman was selected for the Bothy Project x TOAST Residency in spring 2019. You can see selected photos and a short diary of her week in Inshriach Bothy on TOAST's website: Diary from a Scottish Bothy.