Dreaming Stones: Tides of light

skye lochalsh (2)

With the decision made, the ferry booked and the light changing as the sun went down, we took the cameras out to play, leaving the mainland behind for a little while. Not intentionally… but the road through Kyle of Lochalsh, the ‘strait of the foaming loch’, becomes the Skye Bridge and, once on it, what else could we do but cross?

skye lochalsh (4)

The bridge was opened in 1995 and connects the old ferry port to the Isle of Skye.  Beneath the bridge, the loch plunges three hundred feet, almost vertically, to a rich landscape of strange creatures and plants that remain hidden from the eyes of the curious. Also beneath the first part of the bridge is the tiny island of Eilean Bàn, the White Isle. The island was once home only to wildlife and lighthouse keepers. It later became the home of Gavin Maxwell, the author of ‘Ring of Bright Water’. The otters of which he wrote are only one of the many creatures you can find there… but passing over the island was as close as we were going to get on this trip.

Across the water, the remains of the fifteenth century Caisteal Maol at Kyleakin rise like jagged teeth from a mound. Legend has it that the ruined seat of the Mackinnon clan stands on the site of a much older fortification, acquired by the clan around eleven hundred years ago, when Findanus, the fourth MacKinnon chieftain, married a Norwegian princess who earned the name of Saucy Mary.

Working together, the chieftain and his bride prevented shipping from traversing the channel by means of a heavy chain, allowing them to charge a toll for any ship that passed… for which they would be thanked by Saucy Mary, who showed them her bared breasts. When Mary died, it is said, she was buried beneath Beinn na Caillich, ‘the mountain of the old woman.

Now the ‘old woman’ in question had been cropping up a lot over the workshop weekend. The Cailleach is an ancient winter deity, the complement… or darker face… of the goddess Brìghde. Dean had told us of the custom of greeting her at the snow line in the Highlands and snippets of folklore had crept in throughout the trip. It is the Cailleach who is credited with creating many of the mountains. She brings in winter by washing her Great Plaid in the whirlpool of Corryvreckan, not far to the south of where we were, and is behind most of the inclement weather, especially storms. We were going to get to know her well on Skye…

But for the moment, we were being eaten by midges on the fastest photo-shoot in history. We did not remain long by the water, but headed back to the mainland, having found a garage for the next morning and the chemist we would need when I owned up to having always been seasick. I have not travelled by sea at all for over thirty years, but my memories of previous crossings were not good. I was taking no risks and wanted appropriate pills, just in case.

We woke to rain-battered windows, a half-empty loch where the receding tides had exposed the seaweed and the disappearance of Skye behind the mists. Not for nothing is the Cailleach named ‘the veiled one’.

A good night’s sleep, a hot shower and breakfast, though, was enough to make the morning good… and we were on our way back to the invisible island. As we left, the mists lifted on a perfect morning. The first touches of heather were showing purple on the cliffs and wild roses lined the road. You would have been forgiven for thinking it was going to be a beautiful day…

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
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24 Responses to Dreaming Stones: Tides of light

  1. jenanita01 says:

    Shame about the seasickness, but hope the pills work so you can enjoy the journey. I must have been born on a boat for I love being on the water.
    Looking forward to you getting there!

    Like

  2. Suzanne says:

    I’m fascinated by this adventure, particularly now I know you are encountering the goddess Cailleach. In Ireland I visited the wedge tomb of Labbacallee – the Goddess in her Crone form. It was one of the most unsettling experiences I had in Ireland and I find I am still processing aspects of the experience even now – six years later. I had a feeling that when I started reading the episodes of your journey to Scotland that you were going to encounter something important. – Once again your photos are superb.

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    • Sue Vincent says:

      That’s an impressive place, by the looks of it… I had to read up on it, of course 🙂
      Some sites do seem to have that effect and can take years to process.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Suzanne says:

        Sorry to make you do some research. I hope it was easy to find. I thought I’d written about it for one of your prompts. Maybe I just thought about doing so but wrote something else instead. Your prompts often affect me like that 😊

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    • V.M.Sang says:

      Interesting, your experiences in Ireland, Suzanne. The Celtic gods still hang around in places on these islands of ours. Even in England, but they seem to be in places where the Celts remained the longest. They are also to be found in Brittany, too. Interestingly, in Brittany, in Broceliand, ther is what is known as Merlin’s Tomb ( le Tombeau de Merlin) and people still leave offerings there.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. fransiweinstein says:

    Your adventures take you to such beautiful places.

    Like

  4. bwcarey says:

    saucy Mary, Norwegian princess’s, sounds like an adventure you had, have a great day

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  5. willowdot21 says:

    This brilliant it is like travelling along with you ❤

    Like

  6. macjam47 says:

    So glad you didn’t get seasick, that would have been a shame on such a lovely trip! Thanks for taking us along. 💕🤗💕

    Like

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