The reproduction of life requires a radiating seed, a sacred island, mountain inundated – entrusted
to man rather than the gods. The origin gives way to repetition, the moment to series.
Swimming in the Loch nam Ban Mora it is better not to dwell. Although chilly the water is not
exactly cold – the dark shallows’ solar gain. Or perhaps the enticement of a doom-enchanted,
Either way the daytrippers on the Nose can see me far off, pink nude.
We: Torsten, Neil and myself are trying out for a project, but the funding has fallen through and it’s
hard to focus on abstractions, hypothetical grand schemes. Instead we pay attention to things at
hand: forage for herbs and fish, taste fungi, tramp bogs, smoke cigarettes to keep the insects at
An otter turns and turns in the surf at the far end of Camas Sgiotaig till eventually we too turn; face
instead the cropped sward, the steep climb. The otter is still there, but receding, a formality.
At the top we spread out; phone family, stay in touch. Torsten has arrangements to keep. I make
small news and enquiries. I don’t know about Neil – he has gone ahead.
Across the sea is blue Skye.
We search for An Cruachan but come across the summit cairn by accident, it’s outcrop barely
differentiated from the boggy plateau. Then rain from the south.
We compare gear.
The island is a cosmic egg, a principle of segregation, a beginning again.
Searching for possibilities I talk to the others about a new boat, a tiny boat, no more than a dinghy.
Excited, I can build it in my garage, or my studio, or my shed. I would barely need the Arts Council
this way. Neil is pragmatic, perhaps tired of speculation. He agrees.
I put the idea to the skipper of the large and worldly aluminium yacht we’ve borrowed for a few days
to get a feel for the seas around here. The skipper is adventurous, a mountaineering veteran and
ocean going yachtswoman, who affirms the notion.
Her son, 11 years, grown up on yachts, is engrossed in fantasy novels below. Neil, happy to
windward, puts the rail under as an enormous gust knocks everything off the shelves. The fantasy
novel and its reader come on deck: “You almost capsized!” he declares.
We talked of making into Loch Scavaig on Skye, casting an eye upon the site of the Viking
boatyard at Loch na h-Airde, the ruined shark fishery, or the sublime anchorage at Loch na Cuilce,
but with the southerly strengthening I know that we won’t make it this time.
We harden up to round the point of Sleat and make for the daymark, a daubed white masonry paint
target on the cliffs marking the winding passage into Loch nan Ceall and Arisaig.
We take our leave in the quietness after dawn and wait for the first train home.
Image: Neil Bickerton.
Text: Nick Evans.
- Sweeney's Bothy