August 8, 2018

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Another track from Passenger for today’s post. As this blog has temporarily turned into a travel journal I thought this song was particularly apt. It’s called Young as the Morning, Old as the Sea. Note the lyrics.

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Words written for the year: 94,897

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Holly and I left Edinburgh four days ago. We picked up our rental car and headed north, into the highlands. A lot has happened in those four days, most good, one thing not so good, and now we find ourselves on the Isle of Skye, where we are staying in a tiny wee home for the next three nights.

The Isle of Skye is exactly as imposing and impressive as you may have been told or read about. It is a landscape so rich with stunning views that it feels like just driving around is activity enough; until you get to one of its landmarks and see exactly how much greater it will prove itself to be. This beauty, though, is not for the faint-hearted, at least, not from our experience. Mist and fog and rain are an almost constant, although it is summer and so showers of sunshine do occasionally roll across the sky. The mist shrouds the mountain tops, hiding them, forcing you to wait, hoping that it will part so you can see the true grandeur hiding behind it. And then, when it does….worth it. This seems to be a staple of this harsh Scottish isle. The promise of great beauty, but only for those who prove themselves particularly persistent or stubborn.

Our first stop in the Isle of Skye was to a landmark known as the fairy pools. A cute name to be sure, but as we drove up the single lane road, which was boarded with sharp edges and thick deposits of mud that practically told us we would be bogged if we edged too far to either side, we saw that these fairy pools would require some work before we could enjoy them. We pulled as far to the side of the road as we could, slightly widened in this area as a makeshift car park– the actual car park already overflowing–and stepped out into the mud as a fine sleet, not even counted as rain by the locals, but that which nevertheless got us damp, settled over the area. We followed the mud track and other tourists down a hillside until we got to a river. The only path across was a series of stones, well submerged in the water. The first test. We, along with many others, searched up and down the river for another way to cross. There was not one to be found. The path and car park were man made, yes, as were the submerged stones, but it would seem that if you want to see this particular spot of beauty then you better be prepared to get your feet wet. After some umming and ahhing and talk of going back to the car we decided that we were worthy of seeing the fairy pools, and choose to prove it. With the water above our ankle and the very real fear that we would slip on the submerged stones and join them in the river, we stepped once, twice, three times, four, then a final fifth, until we made it across onto a wide and well laid path that made us ask the question if you can build a path, why not build a bridge? But we already knew the answer, and so with a stubborn and persistent pace began to walk up the hill, to the pools that ran alongside it. It was worth it.

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The next morning we got up early, had a quick breakfast, then hit the road, eager to beat the rest of the tourists to another landmark known as the Old Man of Storr. While we were successful in beating the crowds, even scoring an actual parking spot in the car park, there was one element we were never going to beat; the weather. That didn’t matter though, because we had come prepared. We had ponchos. Ponchos that were untested and may have as well have been made of cling wrap. These flimsy pieces of plastic were as unready for this mountaintop weather as we ourselves were, so at least in that way we were well matched (our fault entirely of course, they didn’t even have full length sleeves! Always test your gear before packing it) Nevertheless we covered ourselves in the brightly coloured garb, mine tearing immediately, and started walking. We had only gone a few dozen meters when the weather thought to test us further. The wind picked up, the rain fell harder, and over the loud flapping of our crappy ponchos we yelled to each other if perhaps we thought we should head back. We almost buckled, almost failed the test, but then rallied and continued up the mountain, our poor choice of clothes quickly becoming soaked. Seeing our perseverance and stubbornness, the isle rewarded us. The clouds parted, sunlight showed itself, and after around thirty minutes we had climbed into a scene I previously thought must only exist in fantasy books.

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The sheer magnitude of the scenery made me want to run around the mountains like a child, which I did. We made it to a peak where the wind roared and did its best to knock us from our feet. I breathed it in, full of elation and adrenaline. We then saw grey clouds approaching on the very same wind and decided it was time to head down. The inevitable happened. Rain and wind came on us once more, even stronger than before, made worse by how high we were. My adrenaline dropped as my clothes became truly soaked and I realised just how far down we had to climb. We were so poorly dressed, so very wet, all we could do was laugh, yelling at each other how mad this was over the screaming of the wind. We made it back to the car and once more the sun returned. Was it worth it? Of course it was. We drove on.

More sights were seen, more breathtaking landscape passed through, until I just had to stop commenting on it because every turn of the road revealed some new remarkable backdrop. We picked up some beers, made it back to our tiny home, and, once warm and dry, rose a toast to being perseverant and stubborn.

Talk soon,

Damian

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