Tom Abbott'

Feature

OH Expedition

At the end of March, 2019, I bid farewell to my brother Tom at Bristol Temple Meads station and he traveled north to Oban, Scotland. From there he caught a ferry to Barra in the Outer Hebrides and walked across to tiny Vatersay, pitched camp and spent the first night of a planned 12 month walking and camping tour of the islands in search of many things: Place, space, himself. Also memories of our dad who himself traveled widely in the Hebrides as a young man but whose own memories of the place have begun to slip with a recent diagnosis of Alzheimers.

After a final week on Mull in October, Tom returned south of the border with us in early November, seven months after first setting off. A book is in the works and knowing how busy Tom would be with compiling and writing his memories long form, I asked him to choose and caption just one photo from each of his seven months in the Western Isles. Enjoy.


April

In a valley I found a stream and sat in wonder.

 

May

I smoked a cigarette on one of the many boulders encircling the site and felt an urge to place my own smaller stones in a circle around the tent.

 

June

Now I feel I’ve plunged into something altogether more wild and bewildering. You will know that of me. There are no outs here, not for miles.

 

July

I followed the old school path until I looked down on a land of silver and gold where dozens of rabbits scattered here and there and long departed dwellings were being buried by the sand.

 

August

This is the beginning of time. I have crawled out of a shallow yet inexplicably black cave and the first thing I feel is the warm salt-scented westerly and the first thing I do is slip and fall on my face.

 

September

What had been a dry bed had become a pool and though the stones I’d once placed around the tent still remained, they were now mostly submerged.

 

October

Midges dance in the lee of the tree, amber shines the breeze-blown waters.