3 Sep 2009

Postcards from Sheigra

This is where the road ends, past Kinlochbervie and the tiny villages of Oldshoremore and Blairmore. You can ease your car over the rough single track, open the gate and drive over the shorn green fields to park within sight of the sea, the sandy beach dropping down to the water like a wide, inviting plank.

Not far back down the road is the start of the four-mile trail that would have led you to the spectacular Sandwood Bay, but if it is already early evening and the weather is promising to turn, this is the time to smile and stop for a little wild camping.
The wind pelts you as you try to spot the oyster catcher that is skulking the shoreline. The gusts drive into your ears as every third wave forgets to be tender and crashes up the beach. Everything about the place is divided between fragile beauty and raw, energetic destruction. A tower of sand stands like an ancient monument in miniature, as grain-by-grain the nearby stream pulls it down. Near the water, the tumbled beauty of a pile of seaweed is the result of a particularly violent surge from the sea.
It is all so perfect. You share your campsite with the sheep, who look like Kindergarten constructions of cotton balls and toothpicks. In cartoon fashion they run up and down the hills and head butt each other playfully before taking off again.
The chill makes the sky ache with blue, and the tender wisps of cloud that tear around the frame of the beach look like something a fairground candy maker would create. But you have been facing the sea for so long, you have forgotten that the horizon exists in every direction. You turn around…
…to see the storm bulging like an angry genie, its dark belly hunkered beneath mountainous shoulders, dwarfing the village beneath it.
Inside this monster is the magic that will stretch time, making the night last longer than any night before or since. It is the kind of storm that will wash everything clean, scrub the last remnants of life from old scattered shells.

But there are a few minutes yet. You turn your back on the aproaching gale and gaze out at the sun-drenched sea, making believe that summer really could last forever.

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