Monday, 10 August 2009

The Quiraing:Trotternish, Isle of Skye

Wild places are in a perpetual state of flux, yet they appear constant when considered on the timescale of our short human lives. On the eastern flanks of the Trotternish Ridge on the Isle of Skye lurks such a timeless place, the Quiraing. Its towers of kidney-textured volcanic rock enclose a collection of chasms and amphitheatres. We picked our way up steep paths, enjoying the novelty of carrying an infant through the type of scenery more usually found on a rock climb or in a winter gully. Bright images of island and sea presented themselves unexpectedly, framed between the pinnacles.
By contrast, it is rare to revisit an urban area and find it unchanged, even a tiny conurbation like Uig, the port from which the ferries linking Skye to Uist and Harris sail. My first visit to Uig was in 1993, courtesy of an audacious hitch that bordered on car-jacking. In the car park outside the village shop in Staffin we had found an elderly woman and her dog sitting in a car. She planned to drive over the hill to Uig to procure a tin of paint. We asked if we could have a lift and while our request was being considered we loaded ourselves and our packs into the back of the car. When the husband emerged from the shop he found his car fully loaded.

Fifteen years ago the shabby pub on Uig pier was typical of the Scottish hostelries of the era. The choice presented at the formica-topped bar was a simple one - lager or heavy. It has now been freshened up and re-branded. Extensive signage invites the passing tourist to enjoy good food, local beers and freshly ground coffee.
Looking back from the smoke free 21st century it seems ludicrous that joints were openly smoked as we played pool in that bar while waiting for the ferry to arrive. It is easy to think of travel only in terms of distance covered and places visited, yet our journey through life is a voyage through both time and space. Revisiting a place can suddenly bring home how much the world has changed in the intervening years. Suddenly I felt old, and my mind drifted back to the eternal spires of the Quiraing.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Jane said...

Interesting post and great photos - makes me want to go back to Skye. Your story about the lift to Uig made me laugh - the thought of the husband's face as he saw his car fully laden! Looking forward to reading more blog entries soon now that I've discovered it.
Best wishes from Wales,
Jane

28 October 2009 at 11:48  

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