Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from September, 2018

Timeline Walks of Scotland #Hallaig to Screapadal on Raasay

'Tha tìm, am fiadh, an coille Hallaig ...'

Hallaig - the lost village of Raasay - is a powerful place. Arguably, it has become a shibboleth for the soul of Gaelic culture. To visit it, to just be there momentarily and feel the resonance of the place, is to know the fragility of place and home, of how kinship can be shattered and how loss can invade a land. Aptly, Hallaig is now a site of pilgrimage for those who value the universal lessons of history. There are terrible reasons for the loss of Hallaig. Its silent mouths of abandoned shielings, the dumb sheep meandering amongst the ruins, whisper with Sorley MacLean's poetry. The place misses the sounds of day-to-day community, and all around the woods and burns and slopes this tough but rich landscape once made this a hardy paradise under the eastern cliffs of Raasay.

Facing east to the dawn and overlooking the peninsula of Applecross and the berry-dark depths of the Inner Sound, the walk to Hallaig leads quietly along a br…

Timeline Walks of Scotland #Culbin Sands

The Moray Firth’s sand-bitten southern coast, between Findhorn and Nairn, is home to Scotland’s most cautionary tract of land. Now a wilderness of maritime forest, dunes, salt marsh and spits of sand, its human history has been dated to the Bronze Age, around 1300 BC, but it is a territory that since glacial times would have been mobile and mutable.

The Laich of Moray is the fertile strip of plain squeezed between the foothills of the Cairngorms and the Moray Firth’s south coast. In Gaelic it is called Machair Mhoireibh (the machair of Moray), a perfect habitat for golf courses and rich arable farmland, threaded by the glacially-rivered straths of Nairn, Findhorn and Spey.

Culbin is an old parish which is now buried under 28 square kilometres of duneland and recent forestry. Sweeping east of Narin and curving in to rise up to its greatest heights above the estuary of the River Findhorn, it is now managed by Forestry Commission Scotland, but it is notable that this is a humanly retr…