Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Going To Meet The Mountain

Image above: Sheep fank (fold) and Ben More

Location: Isle of Mull, Scotland

Sunday 1st February

I used to have a mountain but the ownership was unclear although, I always assumed it had laid claim to me. The mountain was the Black Hill and I said good bye to that landscape over a year ago. After skirting its foothills for eight years I climbed only once into the cloud base that normally haunts its summit and exchanged a few parting words in the silence.

Now I have an island and once again it exerts a claim over me, but sometimes I miss the density of mountain. Today I went to meet Ben More, a peak which dominates the small estuary the separates the island from Mull. It often lures me from the cottage doorway and sometimes in the dark of a winter’s evening, if the moon hangs low enough it seems to rest within the mountain’s shoulder. If I need another mountain there would be little reason to look any further but the ritual dictates a proper courtship, there will be know marching to summit and planting a flag.

The route from the island to base of the mountain is a little over ten miles, obviously once you have made it onto Mull. This morning the weather had made a change for the better, a stiff southerly wind had cleared all but a few patches of cloud from sky. I paddled through the ebbing tide at the narrows and then made the short climb to the barns at Knockvologan; the winter home for the van. From the comfort of the vehicle the world passed by at an easy pace, each bend bringing a new vista or a change in perspective. Occasionally I spotted a herd of deer out in the autumn tinted grasses or a buzzard hunting from a post. In the flat sunlight the cresting sea had taken on a steely blue tone flecked with white breakers or the flash of a seagulls wing. From the Ross of Mull the mountain shows its best side, its snow capped ridge half hidden in shade throughout the morning renders some form to its presence. I drove past Pennyghael and the turning for Salen to view it from the other side.

Just as I began to lose sight of the mountain in my rear view mirror I stopped and turned back to meet it again. Back at Pennyghael I found an empty sheep fank and left the warmth of the van to make some images. Is it my mountain? I don’t know maybe I will kept the island instead.

Image Above Right: Buzzard

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