Faraid Head

The very northwest of Scotland is a place I want to be, always. Travelling there is fun, leaving is terrible. Driving along the side of the shimmering, shifting sands of the Kyle of Durness fills me with joy. Spring  has arrived and it is so beautiful in the bright morning light. I can’t just drive, I need to stop. As the car, motorcycles, camper, vans, tourists and locals hurtle passed, don’t they see what I see, feel what I feel.

Is this just another Scottish road to them, to be driven at speed angrily swearing at sheep and other road users for hindering their progress. I sit at the edge of the rocky, seaweed, wood strew beach and in an instant I’m overwhelmed. The scale of this land presses down against my body, my lungs feel as if the air is being slowly forced from them. I feel a mere speck in this immense beautiful landscape. There is an abundance of life in this place. The whole shore seems to be an eatery for local wildlife. All around are the discarded shells of mussels and the broken bodies of crabs.

I continue  north to Balnakeil beach and at its end Faraid Head. My boy is with me today not a boy a man. You know what parents are like with their children. He’s made the trip all this way to be with me, I think. It doesn’t really matter it’s nice that he’s here. Someone I care about is sharing this incredible place with me. That makes me happy.

The tide has never been this far out it is fabulous fun. Along the beach we tramp collecting driftwood for those plant based projects back home. No trudging through the blowy sandy, sheep filled dunes today. A heavenly march all the way almost to the the rocky headland. A steep haul up and we’re here as far north almost as you can be on this island. Cape Wrath lighthouse with its white tower shimmering in the sun to the west. To the east the north coast of Britain unfolds and eventually melts into the hazy morning light.

I stand for a while. It was here I saw a basking shark all those years ago when he was a child. Then he would have stood all afternoon if I told him we would see a whale, now he’s eager to get off there’s no signal up here. There are to be no  sharks or whales today. The faintest of black lines appears in the sky far, far out to see. Slowly the line gets closer, birds. Eventually the unmistakable sounds of geese seems to arrive before they are close enough to see. A flock of geese inbound from where. The power, the grace how far has this flock flown through the night.

Heading back from this desolate spot, heading south. There is nothing behind us but the empty Atlantic and then Arctic ocean. Ahead, goodness me a whole country. Almost seventy million souls and all that goes with a figure of that magnitude. Back to the beach for me by the quickest route through the dunes.  I was as happy there as I am likely to ever be. You know when a movie has a really good and happy ending. Walking back along that beach barefoot in the sea with my son is just such an ending.

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