Isle of Skye – To the Western Shores!

Neist Point Lighthouse

I’ve always loved lighthouses. They are a good thing in often treacherous places, they bring light to those who are at risk and they stand tall and sleek against the headland, their residents dedicated lighthouse men and women who, for years, lived in these remote places to keep the lights shining when needed most. Today most lighthouses are not staffed anymore as they can be managed remotely. Whilst this is probably good for those who did not enjoy the hermit lifestyle, I feel we lost something when we de-humanised this vital role on around our beautiful yet dangerous coastline. Something quite wonderful about someone sat out there, guiding ships safely away from dangers ahead. There’s a relatively modern Christian song ‘My Lighthouse’ by Rend Collective (https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=my+lighthouse&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-gb&client=safari) which I find great joy in singing and dancing to – reminding me that Jesus can be a light to guide us safely away from the rocks and storms to calmer waters and shores.

We visited this lighthouse at Neist Point, the most western point on the Isle of Skye. It was built in 1909 and someone staffed it until and became fully automated in 1990. It stands 62 feet high, 142 feet above sea-level. The light form the tower is equivalent to 480,000 candles and can be seen from 24 miles away (wiki). To get to the lighthouse there is quite a fun (and a bit steep!) walk around the cliffs, as shown below:

Once at the lighthouse, people were walking on to the rocks beyond where dolphins, porpoises and seals were playing in the still waters.

I saw a lot but captured only snippets on my phone camera. Stunning to see such calm waters where these beautiful sea creatures were free to enjoy the ocean, perhaps aware of their captive audience nearby.

In the far distance a boat sails by, with views over the Minch to the Western Isles on the horizon. I’m reminded of the end of Lord of the Rings when the white ship sails off into the distance to far shores of peace and tranquility.

On my way back I was able to see Neist Point more clearly for myself, it’s rock formations akin to those found on Staffa and on the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.

Neist Point (spot the person on top!)

Rugged cliffs remind us of the magnificence to be found in creation and the majestic way they lord over the seas, causing harm to any who come too close, yet remaining an awesome sight to behold from a safe distance.

Whilst some enjoy the challenge of climbing these rock faces, I am content to appreciate them from a distance, marvelling at their shape, their sheer size and pondering over their history. What stories they could tell of shipwrecks, smuggling and ocean capers between the western isles tempting us in the distance.

Getting back to the motorhome, my little fluff ball was delighted to see me (having decided not to take him down the perilous steps to the cliff edge!).

Neist Point behind Koda

We sat a while to savour the view one last time …

before heading home on the fun roads Dave so loves driving on….

We passed the MacLeod’s Tables (Healabhal Mhor in the foreground) on the way home, these two magnificent hilltops that seem to have had their tops levelled off.

MacLeod’s Tables

Legend tells us the flat summits were created after the visit of Saint Columba to the island. He was not well received by the Chief, who at this time lived in a Dun on the shores of Loch Bracadale, and was refused any hospitality. St. Columba was invited to preach a sermon in the local church and chose as his theme: “The rabbits have their warrens, the birds have their nests but the messenger of the Lord has nowhere to lay his head”. During the sermon, the skies blackened and the ground shook, culminating in an almighty crash. On leaving the church, the congregation discovered that the tops of the two local mountains had been struck off, creating a bed for St. Columba to sleep on and a table for him to dine at.

Another legend is when Alastair MacLeod visited the court of King James V in Edinburgh. The king snubbed MacLeod, and challenged him to admit that nothing in his remote Highland estate could compare to the grandeur of the court. MacLeod replied that he could set a finer table, and light it with better candlesticks. When James visited Skye, MacLeod prepared a banquet for him on the top of MacLeod’s Table (Healabhal Mhor), overlooking his castle at Dunvegan. The scene was lit by MacLeod’s nobles, dressed in their finest, each holding aloft a burning torch. The king admitted defeat. It must have been a most magnificent site indeed!

Dunvegan Castle in the distance from across the bay

Onwards home we go down the windy highland roads of Skye. Heading inland we leave the breathtaking shoreline and the legendary Macleod’s tables behind. Back at our campsite, it’s time to refuel our mobile hotel with water and let my wonderful chauffeur companion enjoy a well-earned cold beer.

What adventures will await us in the morning? Who knows…..

As the night closes in I revisit the scenes by the cliffs in my mind. I fondly recall reliving my childhood adventures by the lighthouse and having the privilege of glimpsing briefing a porpoise and some cheeky seals. Nature is truly amazing.

‘God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.’ (Genesis 1:21)

God bless x

Published by revhelen

A methodist minister on a journey..... to spiritual ‘places’...... to savour and reflect..... to be....

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