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.
In a valley I found a stream and sat in wonder.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Midges dance in the lee of the tree, amber shines the breeze-blown waters.