Applecross recalled

The other day I undertook my biannual excursion to Applecross, winding my way southwards around the great sea-lochs of Scotland's west coast. The Applecross Walled Garden Restaurant buys and sells my cards and calendars. I always look forward to a chat with Elaine after driving what is quite possibly Scotland's most scenic, almost traffic free route.

However many times you may have made it, the ascent up Bealach Na Ba ('the pass of the cattle') is especially breathtaking, not to say daunting.  I always think about my family's first holiday in Scotland. No amount of poring over maps prepared us for the sight of that tiny, (at that time unbarracaded) thread of a road snaking its steep way up what appeared to we Hampshire flatlanders an impossibly dangerous mountain. In fact our two boys, not noted for timidity, were all for getting out and walking. I was driving a Ford Zodiak, towing an eighteen foot, clinker built, lugsailed fishing boat. How we made it around those scary hairpins I'll never know, but we did, and that holiday on Applecross's campsite was marvellous in so many ways. Plus it was my own introduction to these incredibly beautiful Scottish Highlands.

All that fortnight we fished the bay in our boat, the launching of which aided and abetted by old Donald, a tough, 90 year old local crofter with all the kindliness and gaelic humour though little English. Donald seemed able to jump about like a spring chicken and had the wiry strength of the highlander born and bred. In the long, light evenings we sat around a camp fire talking with with our fellow campers, wafting the smoke around to avoid the worst of the midges. One evening I was out strolling in an adjacent wooded area with the boys when a great stag bolted from right in front of us, clearing a high fence in one majestic leap. Never to be forgotten.

Anyway, a few years ago I painted this view over Applecross Bay ... and with it composed my thoughts in verse ...


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 grace?

1 comment:

  1. Lovely post! I think Scotland is the most beautiful place I have ever been to and the best part about this place is the variety of cuisine I get to try. Thank you for sharing.

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