Thursday, 13 September 2012

Artists in residence

My friend Dave and I met up in Fort William on a late afternoon to start a two night journey in our kayaks, using bothies for our accommodation. By the time we'd done some shopping and grabbed someething to eat, then driven to our starting point at Glenuig it was about an hour before sunset on a damp, drizzly and misty evening. We paddled out into a marvellous stillness (and away from the midge hordes!). The drizzle died away to leave a world of monochrome, muted light and an almost complete lack of sound. Several times we stopped to experience this enclosed world with all our senses. The light faded quite quickly and we paddled on a compass bearing towards the bothy. Gradually we saw a gentle glow of light above the shore; other folks were already at the bothy so it would be warm and cosy when we arrived. We landed on the beach and wandered up, and were immediately welcomed into the warmth and glow of a warm room and a good fire. We deposited our bag of coal to add to the fuel and got our kit from the boats. Our fellow bothy-dwellers were a group of artists undertaking some transient sculpture projects in the area - a really nice crowd with whom we shared a great evening. These chance meetings are one of the real pleasures of bothying.

After a good night's sleep we awoke to a clearer morning.  It was still cloudy with the threat of rain but otherwise a good day.  This bothy sits on a meadow above a beach and was one of a number of crofts forming a small community.

All the other buildings are roofless ruins, a village of ghosts apart from the one homely hub of the bothy.  No road comes here and life could never have been easy.  The buildings generally have rounded corners to the drystone walls to better deflect the wind and would have been thatched "blackhouses".

The view from the door was pretty good - an occasional blink of sun lit the landscape with vivid colour whilst beyond, towards Ardnamurchan, curtains of rain and low cloud provided a blank backdrop to the colour.

On the shore, low tide revealed bright beds of weed with colours which seemed to glow in the diffuse light against the pale sand.  One of the group of artists was a photographer and was absorbed by the contrasts and the shifting light of the place.

Other colours were more subtle.  After breakfast we packed our boats for a leisurely paddle to our next night's accommodation.  We said goodbye to our artist friends and set off along the coast, enjoying the relaxed rhythm of the day and of the journey.


  1. Hi Ian, what a great area to launch into! :o)

  2. Hi Douglas, sure is - and guess where we headed next?! ;o)