The Arctic

I stand on deck with the steady throb of the engine in my ears and the dry, bitterly cold wind snapping at my face. The waves crash against out prows, furious and relentless. Whether they are striving to thwart, or merely mark our progress, I cannot tell. The clouds are heavy, the sun is nowhere to be seen, and a faint blue tint hangs over these unsettled waters. All the time, the sky is only a shade lighter than the sea, and on the murky horizon dark mountainous landscapes rise out of the gloom; vast silhouettes of unfamiliar terrain.
Later I lie in my lurching bunk, watching the moonlight playing a violent light show on the ceiling of my cabin, as it is reflected off the waves lashing the sides of the boat. The winds are strong tonight, and the waves are lashing us with such force that a ferocious thud reverberates within the hull everytime the seawaters crash down against the porthole, plunging my cabin into periods of darkness.



Skye looms on the horizon, glimpsed through squalls of driving rain blown by a ferocious wind; vast, foreboding bluffs rise up from crashing waves, and yet as the eye is drawn along this ancient coastline, angular ciffs give way to undulating lowlands revealed in the enchanting light of the sun as it filters through the ever-opening and closing gaps between wispy clouds.

Along Skye’s northwestern coastline, biting winds lash steep hills and unforgivingly-sheer cliff faces plunge vertically into the icy waters of the North Sea. Hardy highland sheep graze amongst wind-ravaged mounds, and coarse grasses lie pressed to mossy outcrops, almost in deferrence to the relentess power of the highland wind.

This is the isle’s northern extreme. Beyond here, across a short, freezing stretch of water, lie the islands of the Outer Hebrides.

These ancient, prehistoric landscapes are indifferent to the human passage of time. Bitter waves crash against vicious rocks with the same phenomenal power that they did thousands of years ago. Savage winds drive curtains of rain to lash down upon desolate grasslands, and jagged precipices launch upward, tearing through blankets of thick, damp fog as they did centuries before man first trod upon this truly awe-inspiring place.



Copyright Douglas Fenton 2017