Thursday, 16 May 2013

The moodier side of Skye


A brief moment of brightness on the cliffs of Cuilthir, Creag a'Lain.
 
Half way through my time here on Skye now, and the island continues to amaze me. My entire perception of Skye has expanded, changed and developed with every morning that I have woken to look out on the island.

In the past my trips to Skye would be impromptu and unplanned, last minute change of plans to get to the Cuillin whilst the sun shone and the rock was dry. But spring has barely started yet here, let alone the summer, and in the last two weeks I've seen the island bear the brunt of some fairly savage weather.


White-tailed sea eagle, Camustianavaig.

A massive storm cloud over the Isle of South Rona
 
Juvenile golden eagle, Dunvegan Head.

Snow settling at sea level was not something I had in mind when I was making my plans to spend May on Skye. A poor time to be a climber on the island, but do I really care? Why mooch and dwell on poor conditions in the Cuillin when I can go and explore remote and extraordinary stretches of the coast, with snow blowing in the wind and crashing seas.

The Old Man of Storr

Golden eagle flying over the sea at Biod an Athair

Moody view from Ben Tianavaig

Just before the snow started falling near Flasvein, Trotternish

So much time spent atop sea-cliffs and on beaches that the smell of the sea seems to be starting to wash into me like the tides that are so central to daily life on the island. Even on several blustery days on the hills of the Trotternish Ridge, where the whiff of the sea-breeze sometimes reaches the summits and occasional stalks of kelp and broken seashells litter the slopes where the gulls have dropped them. The mountains and the coast merge seamlessly on Skye.
Biod an Athair, the tallest sea-cliffs on Skye - reaching a full height of 1026ft.

A raven's call.

Rubha nam Braithrean, near Staffin. Two minutes later the rain was so hard that visibility was down to less than 50 feet.

In the same way it was in Glencoe, every moment of sunshine here is something to savour and put to best use, and bad weather is rarely far from the shore. For brief hours here and there the Uists, Harris and Lewis appear surprisingly close across the sea…but then go, not to be seen again for days.

So much on an island is routine, the repetition of the tides and waves and winds. But so many moments of sudden drama too…you never know when the next eagle will appear and fly so close you can see the colour of its eyes, or when the next squall will hit.

James

1 comment:

  1. Amazing photos, what a beautiful place.

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