A few weeks ago we headed north from my parents’ house, taking the road to Ullapool. After a browse in the shops and a bite to eat at the best deli in the north, we continued north to Inchnadamph.
The journey to Ullapool itself is beautiful, the landscape opening out to broad swathes of peat and lochain just a short distance west of the Black Isle. North of Ullapool the area abounds in astonishing geological features and tales of beasts from long ago found in caves.The landscape rewards those who get out of the car to explore, nooks and crannies everywhere to explore. How else would we have ever otherwise seen this incongruous wee church, tucked away from the roadside?
I’ve been doing my best to cling onto what little summery feeling there has been thisyear, but this walk down to Loch Assynt reminded me of what I like best at this time of year. It was breezy, on the chilly side but the air was beautifully clear. We pootled along by the loch, taking in the fossils lying casually on the shore. The hills had long since lost any greenery they might have had over the summer, but the heather was starting to come out. Driftwood on the shoreline had some colour of its own.
How I love Assynt, this place where various versions of the past – geological, archaeological, political – combine. Those who know it treasure it. Those who don’t are missing out.
Inchnadamph : Innis nan Damh
meaning, variously, a pasture, or an island or a stretch of green land.
Nan Damh: nan daf
meaning ‘of the deer’. The pastural, green land of the deer.
I have but two weeks left on Islay. As a result the next couple of weeks will be met with packing, tidying, and trying to see some final sights for the first time or indeed the last time.
An inevitable part of leaving Islay is packing up the belongings I took with me and those I’ve amassed since being here (far greater in number than I care to admit). One item that’ll not be leaving Islay with me are my beloved old walking boots. These were given to me as a birthday present in 2006. They’ve seen me through excavating thousands of years of human detritus in Wales, East Lothian, Skye, Mull, Uist… They’ve seen me through walking hundreds upon hundreds of miles in just about every corner of Scotland, climbing hills innumerable, and every holiday or day trip I’ve been on in the past 7 years.
Having been subjected to every weather imaginable, a few too many submerges in seawater and countless bogs, as well as clumsy wielding of spades, trowels and mattocks, they have long since been rendered not-fit-for-purpose. So, out they go. They have served me well and these photos are for posterity as much as anything. I hope their successors can serve me just as well. Forgive the unnecessary emotional attachment to a pair of boots, but I’m sure any walker or hiker will appreciate the singular role that a good pair of boots plays.
Yesterday I took a trip to Bridgend woods. It will likely be the last time I get the opportunity to visit this patch of lush, verdant trees so I took my time and made the most of it (this may or may not have had anything to do with the next bus not being due for hours). Either way, it was lovely and unexpectedly quiet. The leaves have started to turn so I know that it’s nearly time to leave. When I arrived on Islay the leaves had already mostly fallen. Mixed feelings on leaving here, but I’m sure I’ll come to that again anon.
Housekeeping note: this site is being tidied up over the next wee while too, so please forgive any glitches in the meantime.
The air has changed. Autumn is creeping ever closer. The sun sets not long after 9pm and the rain is starting to make a reappearance, more regularly by the day. The wind is gusty and more determined; the plants all around looking tired and drawn. I arrived on Islay at the tail end of Autumn last year, and with Autumn making her presence felt, I’m reminded that my time here is beginning to draw to a close.
When I’m ignoring the pressing issue of What To Do Next (well underway but really, a daunting task) I like to read. I go through fits and spurts in reading. Either I’ll be utterly addicted, every spare second with my nose in books, devouring every word in front of me, or I’ll be quiet, not reading or trying to and perhaps struggling to manage more than a few paragraphs a day. I’m in the midst of the former at the moment, happily. It does make me feel like something of a recluse, though, rejecting company to instead keep reading.
I live by the mantra my parents set out for me: “money spent on books is never money wasted”. To that end, I frequently don’t have much spare money, but do have an ever-increasing book pile.
Images: some books I’ve read and enjoyed recently.