Sun, Silkies and Surf

The camper, or day van as it is technically called, has had it’s first foray into the world! A few days on the West Coast of Scotland, at Knapdale and the Kintyre Peninsula.

When the Rest and Be Thankful is open it is only a couple of hours or so from home. Yet, it really does feel like a proper getaway, remote, quiet and incredibly beautiful. With rolling hills and the golden sandy beaches that the West Coast is famous for. It causes you to stop a moment, catch your breath and just be. Something I think everyone needs this year!

The entire trip was around 430miles in total. This being such a beautiful part of the world means I could easily write many a blog, sharing the sights, smells and scenery with you. Instead, I am going to pick just 5 highlights from the trip to tell you about. Each selected for it’s own reasoning, each different from the next.

Sunrise at Furnace

I don’t know about you, but the first night of a holiday is never a good nights sleep. A new bed in a new location makes it hard for me to settle and harder yet to stay asleep. The first night away was exactly that. I went to bed early, before 10pm, but was properly awake by 4.30am.

I am not normally an early riser but there is a magic in the air at that time in the morning. I quickly packed up camp before heading back along the road towards Furnace for sunrise.

As the sun rose that morning I felt the daily grind fade away. The world changing from dark blues to purples and pinks as I slowly made my porridge. Time to just stop and breathe was amazing after the last few months.

Skipness Beach

When holidaying in Scotland I am more prepared for midgies and mizzle than sunbathing. I simply do not expect to lie on a beach, in swimwear after taking a swim and feeling my skin slowly tighten, knowing I should have put some lotion on. But that’s the magic of Skipness.

The drive to here, along the tumbling kinking roads was pleasurable but required focus. To discover the shallow waters, warmed thanks to the spell of sunny days was the perfect respite from it.

Since a fright in the waves whilst on summer holiday a few years ago I have always had a wary, almost fearful respect for the sea. I will rarely venture in alone, even to paddle. But the serenity here encouraged me to swim in the shallows all on my own. I relaxed and enjoyed it. And remember, the sea is not always a scary place.

Silkies at Machrihanish

Scotland is awash with tales of the others. The other beings, from fairies to kelpies, monsters and giants. But at Machrihanish I had the most unsettling of experiences followed by a magical one.

I was tired after a day of exploring and swimming, walking and driving and decided an afternoon nap before moving on would be ideal. I went for a swim at the main beach at Machrihanish before heading along to the first quiet layby. I curled up in the back of the van to nap for a hour or so before moving on for dinner.

90 minutes later I woke with a start. I was convinced a father and grown son were shouting at me, telling me I was not welcome and it was time to move on. I woke with my arms outstretched to protect myself saying aloud that I was going. Fear in my voice. Yet when I properly came to there was no sign of anyone.

I jumped out to go to the drivers seat. I knew I needed a moment to centre myself and calmed myself looking out to sea. Wildlife can be found in abundance on the coastlines here. Was that a splash? A tail? A head?

As I calmed, I was aware of a seal watching me as it swam closer before slithering onto a rock. As graceful as these creatures are in the water, well, they are the opposite on land. As it lay there looking towards me it appeared to motion me over with its flapper. A come hither expression in its soulful eyes.

I stood a while, entranced, before remembering that unsettled feeling and making to move on. But as I slipped my key into the ignition another seal appeared. This one too appearing to lounge around, like an old tart, trying to catching the eye of passing fishermen.

But again, time was passing, I needed to find somewhere to make dinner and bed down for the night.

But more movement. One by one 7 seals appeared in total. I felt a honoured that they appeared and were comfortable with me observing them. It was almost as if there were trying to make me feel secure and let me know I was not alone after that awful dream.

Watching them, you could understand where the tales of silkies come from. How human they could appear. How intelligent and empathetic. Time passed in the blink of an eye, but all in I stood with them for over a hour before it was time for me to leave them and move on.

Sunset at Westport

After leaving the silkies I headed down to Southend before the road northwards stopping at Westport. The beauty of nature is surreal here. It takes your breath away and I am not ashamed to admit it made me well up more than once.

From long golden sandy beaches to stunning wildflower meadows and a sunset which simply stole my heart. There are no filters needed at this part of the world. They simply would not do nature a justice.

I slept long and late here. Lulled by the crashing waves. In the morning the sky was grey and the water billowing from the waves onto the beach. At times the coast here can feel inhospitable, the winters are sure to be long and the days short. But this beach showed why anyone would want to run away here. There must be many a poem, painting and creation inspired by it.

Cups and Rings at Achnabreac

My final night on this trip was spent at Achnabreac Forest. This is a site filled with mystery. The signs let you know that it is part of Kilmichael Forest, a remnant of the Atlantic oakwoods. These are woodlands that began spreading across a vast distance when the last ice age ended. It stretched along the Atlantic seaboard to Norway and all the way to the south of Spain.

It is also home to one of the most extensive and important cup and ring trails known, with parts 4000 or more years old.

At heart, I am a wee hippy and open minded, though I will always try and find an explanation for things. But the vibe within this site and the strange way energy worked, well, it defies my explanations. There is something elemental and age old about this place. There is a real magic here that you can touch, smell, taste almost. The energy pulsates, you can you feel it. There is true power here, the kind our modern life has taught us does not exist. Yet it is there. Waiting to be remembered.

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