30th July 2016
Lighthouses seem to have the ability to captivate and excite our imaginations; something about them commands attention. No matter the situation people are always inclined to announce the distant shine of a lighthouse across a bay, sparking conversation and interest. In days gone by they were both a blessing and a warning: a positive omen of approaching land after days at sea, and a hazardous warning of a treacherous, rocky coastline. They inhabit some of the more formidable areas of the landscape, usually precariously placed on a remote shoreline, miles from civilisation and other light sources.
On this last point, Neist Point Lighthouse is no exception. Sitting on the most westerly land on Skye, it is a 30 minute drive from the nearest town of Dunvegan, and even after navigating the winding, single lane roads the approach to lighthouse isn’t easy. You first descend a steep staired path that takes you down from the main headland onto the narrow peninsula. From here you trek along the cliff tops, over a large rise before approaching the buildings on the edge of a huge expanse of water.
The lighthouse has been unmanned for the last 26 years, and after a brief spell as holiday accommodation has been left abandoned. Peering through its windows reveals a derelict interior, strewn with old newspapers, matchboxes and food utensils. It must have been an incredible, but unforgiving place to live; on the edge of a huge body of water, being battered by the elements, shut off from civilisation.
After returning to the car, we drove south, covering a large part of the islands western coast, before searching for somewhere to make camp for the night. The first location we investigated was between Carbost and the Fairy Pools, but we found the wooded car park busy with camper vans, and chose to continue on in the search of solitude. The Pools are the main tourist location down this narrow road, and we found luck by driving a few miles beyond them, pitching in a wide, open valley, beside a river and pine forest. The woodland proved to be home to a large amount of midges, we retreated to the safety of the pub in Carbost, but they had tasted blood. We returned to camp, but the midges came out in full force, even the light drizzle of rain didn’t stop their relentless appetites, and we soon retired into the tent for an early(ish) night