Celebrating the Summer Solstice in Gairloch
|View north from Big Sand, near Gairloch|
The longest day is a very special time and one that always provokes mixed feelings. A mild euphoria that it is, to all intents and purposes, constantly light. A sense of disbelief, for these long days are ephemeral; by the time the lightness has been accepted it is already slipping away. A sense of trepidation, for soon enough it will be the shortest day and all will be dark and cold. And a mere six months after that we will be back where we started, once again savouring the anticipation of the lengthening days. The wheel turns so fast, but it is normally easy to ignore the speed of its turning. Not at the solstices, when the shortness and preciousness of life is brought into sharp focus. Now is the time to be doing, to be stepping through a door that will soon close to take full advantage of these long evenings.
|The Torridon hills|
With such thoughts in mind I make plans each year to celebrate the summer solstice outdoors: round the fire on a beach or bivvying out on a mountaintop. Then as the day approaches reality dawns. More often than not the longest day is cold and wet. This year was no exception, with heavy rain and temperatures that I doubt made it into double figures. It is only later in the year, when the days have begun to shorten, that these northern latitudes deliver consistently warm weather.
Fortunately we didn't wait for the rainy 21st. With a fine forecast in the west on Saturday we headed to Gairloch and celebrated the solstice a few days early, sitting in warm sunshine until, just after 2200, the sun dipped below the low hills to the northwest.