12 Jan 2010

Turn here for Tarbet

After the winter we have had so far, I feel in need of an escape. So we turn and drive three miles off the main (albeit single track) road to a tiny cove in the north called Tarbet.

It is early spring, and as you descend from the eerie grey-brown expanse of the northern highlands, this place is like a hiccup of green before the silver blue of the sea takes over.

It can be a place to rest and linger for a few minutes (or hours) before continuing your journey, but for many people it is a the leaping off point to Handa Island and its protected nature reserve. Boats take tourists out to the island between April and September, and visitors are given three hours to wander the seabird-laden mass of red Torridon sandstone, careful not to peak too far over the edge of the sheer cliffs.

We landed in Tarbet almost by accident, deciding on a whim to take the narrow road that led down to the shore. There was something so idyllic about the place, from the small piles of fishing nets near the dock, to a trio of geese waddling up from the shoreline. There was a dilapidated stone wall running up the hillside, near which grew the most wonderful storm-beaten tree. Its trunk and branches bent by the constant wind, it seemed to be reaching desperately inland, simultaneously blooming and attempting its escape.

With a long drive ahead of us we weren’t able to take the day to visit Handa Island. However from what I have read and the photos I have seen, it seems like a magical place. If anyone has been before I would love to hear the story of your visit.

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