Monday, 19 June 2017

The shining sands of Shian

After amusing ourselves playing boules with fishing floats we cooked and ate dinner then reconvened to light our campfire. Our fires are usually built on the shore below the spring high water mark but at Shian we found a long-established and properly constructed fire pit (rather than a series of ugly scars on the turf).

For those without chairs a couple of fish boxes and two planks served as a bench.  David and Sam were forced to sit ever closer together as the evening progressed; not because it was cold but because we gradually shortened the planks to feed the fire by sawing the ends off them!  Gathered around a camp fire on a remote shore with good food, good company and the odd sports recovery drink is one of life's real pleasures and a real enhancement to sea kayaking journeys for me.  On journeys such as this one time seems extended somehow and the distractions of regular life are replaced by a more simple rhythm - life in the "now", and a chance to spend a little time in a "quiet centre"

As the sun dipped towards the horizon later in the evening we left the fire for a while and drifted over to the top of the beach to take our front row seats for what we hoped would be another great Hebridean sunset......

.....and we certainly weren't disappointed!  As the sun began to set beyond Colonsay, from where we'd paddled that afternoon, the sky began to colour up to rich, warm shades.  But the special feature of this sunset was to be found on the beach in front of us, where wet sand left by the ebbing tide began to shine as it reflected the low sunlight beaming across the surface of the sea and continuing onto the beach.

Douglas and I walked down onto the shore to try and capture the the effect......

...but my photographs really don't do justice to the gorgeous light beaming, it seemed, from the sand itself.  We stood and watched as the beam of light slowly darkened and then, almost instantaneously, disappeared.  In these northern latitudes sunsets are long affairs, especially in summer when the sun only dips below the horizon, so this sudden change was all the more remarkable.

We walked back up to join the others around the fire, below a full moon and a sky of the most delicate pink shade.  A line of pale mist was forming around the hills as the warmth of the day dissipated, it was a truly beautiful evening and a wonderful quality of ethereal light.

Almost a full hour after the sun set beyond Colonsay we stood in the long Hebridean dusk with a full moon at our backs.......

.....and the ember glow of the sunset washing the sky - a scene which seemed to be straight out of a J.M.W. Turner painting.  Once again we sat long into the evening, chatting and enjoying the warmth of the fire,  the shining sands of Shian etched into our memories.


  1. Sitting long into the evening, a Hebridean sunset before one...the stuff of the richest and most textured dreams. Wonderful, Ian.

  2. Thanks Duncan - these are the special moments which will be recalled long into the evening of life......