r2vyln3rdioj14u-rld0ska where mountains meet the sea: 2011

the flag in the wind

"It is perhaps in the symbols which men use that their deepest sentiments are most readily expressed....... Flags as well as straws show which way the wind is blowing."    John MacCormick (1955)

Electioneering in the Highlands takes a lot more money, energy and hopefulness than it does in urban districts. Few candidates realise that we are not politically minded. The inhabitants of the glens want a man who will be attentive to local needs and have more power than a county councillor. We are too far from London to be interested in it, and very well aware that it is not interested in us. A voter told me yesterday that a certain candidate would get his vote even if the candidate changed to the opposing party. The speakers turn up at queer times of the day, because if they have thirty miles to travel by car, plus five miles to walk, in order to address about a hundred people and perhaps be back for an evening meeting at a town, they cannot fit their visits in differently. Heaven help them if they think we are not worth visiting.

We attend the meetings of all parties. We like to hear all points of view, and a meeting of the prospective candidate with a small knot of men in a rural district spreads his message by nightfall to other people many miles away. It certainly comes up for discussion in the local pub, where probably his fate is decided. We also go to the meetings for fun. They are not as good as a dance or ceilidh, but at least the performer is new to us and a nice change. If someone can pull his leg, that will provide laughter for a week. We work hard enough on polling day. There are no trams, buses or trains for us. The people of one glen that I know must take an open boat, no matter what the weather, and then go in an open lorry, the jaunt taking all day. For that reason, someone must be left behind to attend to the croft, and is thereby disenfranchised. There should be proxy votes for such circumstances. A difficulty here is that no hackney hires are allowed, nor estate cars, and no one else has a car except the doctor. At such times we hope for good weather and not such winds as have been bothering us lately.

October (1952) 
Wendy Wood , from From a Highland Croft

Full Moon on Loch Ness

for more about Duncan Chisholm and his music, please visit here.

The Big Grey Man

"...tell me that the whine was but the result of relaxed eardrums, and the Presence was only the creation of a mind that was accustomed to take too great an interest in such things. I shall not be convinced. Come, rather, with me at the mysterious dusk time when day and night struggle upon the mountains. Feel the night wind on your faces, and hear it crying amid rocks. See the desert uplands consumed before the racing storms. Though your nerves be of steel, and your mind says it cannot be, you will be acquainted with that fear without name, that intense dread of the unknown that has pursued mankind from the very dawn of time." - Peter Densham (leader of the Cairngorms RAF Rescue Team 1939-45)

taken from here and is the inspiration for the upcoming Highland film Brocken Spectre

more about  Am Fear Liath Mòr here

Highland Heart

a photographic tribute to the Highlands and Hebridean Islands by David Eustace

more of his breathtaking images here.


Chì mi na mórbheanna /The Mist Covered Mountains

Oh, I see, I see the great mountains
Oh, I see, I see the lofty mountains
Oh, I see, I see the corries
I see the peaks beneath the mist

I see, straight away, the place of my birth
I will be welcomed in a language which I understand
I will receive hospitality and love when I reach there
That I would not trade for a ton of gold


I see woods there, I see thickets there
I see fair, fertile fields there
I see the deer on the ground of the corries
Shrouded in a garment of mist


High mountains with lovely slopes
Folk there who are always kind
Light is my step when I go bounding to see them
And I will willingly remain there for a long while


Chì mi na mórbheanna

O chì, chì mi na mòr-bheanna
O chì, chì mi na còrr-bheanna
O chì, chì mi na coireachan
Chì mi na sgoran fo cheò

Chì mi gun dàil an t-àite san d'rugadh mi
Cuirear orm fàilte sa chànain a thuigeas mi
Gheibh mi ann aoidh agus gràdh nuair a ruigeam
Nach reicinn air tunnachan òir


Chì mi na coilltean, chì mi na doireachan
Chì mi ann màghan bàna is toraiche
Chì mi na féidh air làr nan coireachan
Falaicht' an trusgan de cheò


Beanntaichean àrda is àillidh leacainnean
Sluagh ann an còmhnuidh is còire cleachdainnean
'S aotrom mo cheum a' leum g'am faicinn
Is fanaidh mi tacan le deòin


These are the verses as sung by The Rankin Family, a wonderful group of singers who come from the wee village of Mabou in Inverness County on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. The Gaelic words of this song were originally written in 1856 by John Cameron of Ballachulish, in the Scottish Highlands. The title was originally "Dùil ri Baile Chaolais fhaicinn" (Hoping to see Ballachulish), set to an air adapted from the English tune Johnny Stays Long at the Fair.


From Carsaig you can see it.
Three peaks rising up out of the Atlantic,
Like a sea monster, the ridge of a dragon's back.
What is there to find but a scattering of houses,
A road, a hotel, then nothing.
It drifts into mist, a huge loneliness,
Composed of bracken and moor and cave.
Who comes to look? Who bothers
To cross the few sea miles
To watch some great mound of empty stone
Drift into the distance?
This busy world would think it worthless -
A barren landfall on the edge of sanity.
To me it is wondrous that such things should still remain,
Uncharted and untamed, like eagles.

Kenneth Steven, from Columba


Two into one

Flodigarry, a watercolour by Sheelagh Petrie

The thin sea breeze met a fat one coming
Down from a corrie. What a confusion
Of ideas and smells - mountain thyme
Growing in sea splashes and mackerel flirting
Round knolls of heather. It took no patience -

Girl who wasn't there - to invent true parallels
With you and me: my bladdery seawrack
And your moss campion: my watery slither
And your roe-deer delicate pacing: my yells
Blackbacking on barnacles - and you on a hillock

Golden plovering, sweetly sandpiping.
What a croft we'd be, with our own visitations!
It would swing like a bell, between sounds and shapes -
Its complete round voice would spread away, fading
Over holiday sabbaths of hills and oceans.

Norman MacCaig, from The World's Room


This shattered place, this place of fragments,
A play of wind and sea and light,
Shifting always, becoming and diminishing;
Out of nowhere the full brightness of morning,
Blown away, buried and lost.

And yet, if you have faith, if you wait long enough,
There will be the miracle of an otter
Turning water into somersaults;
The jet blackness of a loch brought back to life
By the sudden touch of sun.

But you will take nothing home with you
Save your own changedness,
And this wind that will waken you
Sometimes, all your life, yearning to return.

Kenneth Steven, from Island Collected Poems

Hebridean symphonies

All who visit the Hebrides can't help but fall under their spell. Such was the case with Granville Bantock and Felix Mendelssohn. And  you're about to join them.

Have a listen to these two grand musical seascapes and imagine the beauty and majesty which inspired them.