r2vyln3rdioj14u-rld0ska where mountains meet the sea: August 2015

Salt of the Earth

The man was off the land
a land where he could see
The sea to where he looked
to shores where he longed to be

Craig Mackay, Brora-based visual artist


Wind-whittled, turned on the sea’s lathe too long,
built by a craftsman who can’t leave it alone:
the trees scoured off, the houses pared down
to their stones, the animals less skin than bone.

We walk to Windhoose, find a barn even the ghosts
have left, a sheep’s spine turning on a string,
a name reduced to nothing but it’s sound.
Our silences become the better part of us.

Helen Mort, extract from North of Everywhere from Division Street


Alasdair, a lobster fisherman from the Isle of Lewis, believes he witnesses a suicide from the coastal cliffs, however when he rushes to where the man fell in there is no trace of anyone to save.  On land in his close-knit community there is no record of anyone missing, no body is found and doubt begins to form in those around him.  The sea is where Alasdair finds quietude and purpose, however a harsh winter has crippled the supply of lobster and as he struggles to provide for his wife and young son, the suicide experience haunts him and his profound relationship with the sea begins to sour.  A looming wind farm project also promises to transform the land around him, which has always been, like the sea, a comforting constant in his life.  Uncertain of the future of the Hebridean man he begins to withdraw from his family questioning the role he has in their lives.  He is drawn to the cliffs and develops a fascination with the man he believes he saw die and begins to question his own mortality and the value of his own life, in a world where a man can vanish into the sea and not be missed.
Tide - A Scottish Short Film
Gordon Napier

The Isle of Jura

the sound & the silences
the lighthouse & the standing stone
the road & the moor
the fuschia & the hazel
the garden & the beach
the clay pigeons & the wild goats
the peat-bog & the whirlpool
the hotel & the ruin
the ferry & the shingle
the sound & the silences
Ken Cockburn, from The Thing that Mattered Most: Scottish poems for children (ed by Julie Johnstone)


It was a day peculiar to this piece of the planet,
when larks rose on long thin strings of singing
and the air shifted with the shimmer of actual angels.
Greenness entered the body. The grasses
shivered with presences, and sunlight
stayed like a halo on hair and heather and hills.
Walking into town, I saw, in a radiant raincoat,
the woman from the fish-shop. 'What a day it is!'
cried I, like a sunstruck madman.
And what did she have to say for it?
Her brow grew bleak, her ancestors raged in their graves
as she spoke with their ancient misery:
'We'll pay for it, we'll pay for it, we'll pay for it!'
Alastair Reid, from Inside Out

An t-Seann Chairt Againn

Ghiùlain i mìle mìorbhail –
pocan-mòna nach tèid àireamh,
clòimhtean chaorach bhon an àirigh,
badan feòir is cocan-eòrna,

còig gille deug air am pronnadh
agus aon latha foghair
rùda mòr a chaidh a rùsgadh
is faoileag a' danns air adhairc.

Bha an t-each sean is caol ge-tà
's chaidh a reic ri ceàrd bha siubhal,
's ghabh fuaim am Massey Ferguson àit'
gliog is brag na cuibhill.

                                    A' chairt
na fealla-dhà làn-ùine. Air bòrd, sheòl
sinn gu San Francisco, 's dh'èirich pàirt
dhan ghealaich, 's a' chluasag-bheòil

bhiodh ceangal an asail 's na cuibhl'
fhathast nam postan-coise
a' meirgeadh thall an Uibhist.

Aonghas Pàdraig Caimbeul, from Aibisidh

Our Old Cart

She bore wonders –
endless sacks of dusty peat,
countless bags of oily wool,
stooks of hay and jagged corn,

fifteen squashed boys,
and one spectacular day
a sheared ram with a stray
gull dancing on its horns.

But the horse grew old
and was sold to a passing tinker,
so the brand-new Massey Ferguson
replaced the bridle's chinkle.

                           The cart
became our plaything. It sailed
to San Francisco, and part of it flew
to the moon, and that bit

which connects the axle to the wheel
became a pair of goal-posts which still stand
rusting in the relentless Uist wind.

Angus Peter Campbell, from Aibisidh

Donald John

A small glimpse into the world of crofter, fisherman and ex-shipyard worker Donald John MacLeod as he took us out on a boat trip round the North Uist islands.  - Mark Campbell


I came a cross Angus, a local crofter, on my way up to Cheesebay on North Uist in the Outer Hebrides. Angus gives a glimpse into times past hand shearing a young sheep with the tenderness of the loving shepherd. - Mark Campbell

Sheep Hill, Fair Isle

I begin sheepishly,
   feel with fingers
attempt to roo

your softness taut
in struggle. I soothe
           with lullaby

you settle. In no time
at all the shear's song
reveals your baby skin

     you free yourself
of me. Hoof it away. My fingers
lanolin soft with your memory.

Raman Mundair, from The New Shetlander, Hairst issue, 2003