In January last year I painted my picture, 'Applecross'. We drove the long way around the coastal road from Shieldaig (opened as recently as the 1970's by Princess Margaret as I recall)and arrived at one of my favourite pubs in time for lunch. But the Applecross Inn is not a good place at which to arrive with daylight already failing - if you want to paint a view of the place, that is! We stayed until dark and I had to return the following week.
Applecross was our family destination when visiting northern Scotland for the first time back in '72. You can imagine the faces as our Ford Zodiac, towing an 18 foot clinker built fishing boat and packed with camping gear neared the Pass of the Cattle after the seven hundred mile journey from south Hampshire. Nobody has forgotten that majestic ascent, nor that even more majestic descent.
Anyway the picture got painted and here it is - and the poem to go with it...

a'Chromraich (Applecross)

Breathtaking, truly,
when you climb the twisting heights
of Belach na Ba (Pass of the Cattle)
first see the drop down into Applecross
look over the sea to Raasay, Skye
and think of Saint Maelrubha,
Irish monk, coming here by oar and sail
thirteen hundred turning years ago
with holy messages for Pict and Gael

'a'Chromraich' the Gaels called this place
'The Sanctuary' to me and you
and that is what it is, Applecross,
this lovely shelter from the storm,
from life's hard race
a race from where to where who knows?
who knows of where went
St Maelrubha's saving grace?

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