Edge and Centre - Harris and Lewis by camera

In October 2012 we visited the Isles of St. Brides for a week.  Here are the last of the photos from the trip.

Impossible to better the anticipation of an windy Atlantic sea journey to an unknown land.  A pod of dolphin chased the bow of the ship, I had a mocca and T was sea sick.

The fabric of Harris is woven from waking dreams, it looks out to everywhere.  But especially the Uists, and Skye.

Isolated?  Not from the water.  The home of the Gall Gael, truly strangers in a strange land, all run through since long before you and I son  - Gaels, Norse, French, Eygptian even, say some.

And the incomers keep coming.  Americans and the non landed gentry to pop off a few deer during stalking season, and families for the beaches in the summer.

You've heard about the beaches, right?  The best in the country.  Summer barbeques, holding hands and wild camps, sands littered with the egos of dead photographers.  But what's not in the brochure?

It's where the dry edge of this world meets the wet edge of the next, where it all slips away.

T is somewhere ahead.  Without understanding why, I stop walking and start to collect animal fragments.  I question this, then continue anyway.  Here a crab shell, there a sheep horn, a leg bone.  I place them here, on this stone.  I put them here carefully, to remember.

Fuzzy edges and flotsam, thin veils and fish scales.  A window into Time's tide.

By Hushinish there's an inky black bottomless well, clear water springs out the green ground at our feet - standing stones and skeleton bones, sea eagles and casual Gaelic at the butchers.  A

bard with sparkling eyes

onboard is bound for the

Mod

on the mainland, a messenger from a land oozing stories.  He has a new book in the old tongue, the first on Kindle.  The glue of community, in binary.  But the technology is only a tool, a trifle.  It'll be gone tomorrow, next week, along with us and the rest.  They'll still be here though,

Standing.

These islands are afloat, remember.  And all the while, the rocks and bogs go on and on repeating themselves,

but that reality is thinly drawn, my anchors nearly rusted through.  How does it feel?  It feels tenuous, spongey.  I'm thinking of the edges of a computer gaming space,

a pixelated avatar stuck in repeat in a corner where the render runs out.  For a week we walk in circles around the island, always different and always the same.  The end of the line, the beginning of waves.

Enough melting, enough morphing dreamworld:  We face ourselves inland, there are mountains here too.  An Clisham - the atom heart of Harris, plus rutting stags in stereo, the high centre of the bleeding edge.  Safer here on the high ground, than all out to sea.  Something familiar in all that windswept rock.

We drove the Golden Road that unfurls around the east of South Harris.  A Mobieus strip as single track, a double helix with passing places.

There are artists here. Tiny crofts and farmsteads who scratch out a living, from the sea, sheep farming, bed and breakfast and weaving.  They call this home.  One calls it 'Fraggle rock'.

Best keep to the yellow brick road, Dorothy.  Stay in the god damned car, lest you fall off the edge.

More photos of the Outer Hebrides are

here

and

here