• Michael

#0002: New Starts

It's 1st January, 2019. My head's a bit sore. I decide to get some air.

Although it's late morning, the sun is low in the sky as I park the car by the site of the abandoned village of Polphail and head due south.

I've been meaning to try this walk for a while. Considering what day it is, this feels like the right time to try something new.

To the north lies the marina and spa at Portavadie. More on that another time; today we're headed in the opposite direction, toward Asgog Bay.

Skirting around Cnoc Pallphail with the sun in my eyes, the view west over Port a' Mhadaidh and across Loch Fyne are sensational. Gulls swoop beneath silver clouds, across a sky which fades from the palest blue to the softest gold. Although the water is flat, there are no boats out today; their skippers are enjoying a long lie after a late night.

At the halfway point, I stumble across a standing stone casting a long, dark shadow across the peat bog. How old it is, I couldn't say, but the scene set before it is timeless. In the foreground, a flock of sheep stagger into the sun as though they, too, partied a little too hard last night. In the distance, Arran bursts up from the horizon, a tangle of majestic peaks and sweeping valleys. Nestled between the two, rising gracefully from the Sound of Bute like a whale breaking water, sits Eilean Aoidhe.

As I drop down the hill toward the little islet, the isthmus connecting it to the mainland comes into view. It's peaceful here; just the sounds of the sea, the birds and the gentle breeze. It feels like a good place to spot seals. I'll be back for that another day.

Crossing the isthmus and passing through the dip between the gentle peaks of Eileen Aoidhe, I run out of land. A rock and pebble beach drops away to the water, lending views out to the little island of Sgat Mòr, its lighthouse set at a jaunty angle like a fascinator at a summer wedding.

I decide to take the plunge.

The water is clear and cold and, in truth, I'm probably in there for less than a minute. Long enough to take a few strokes out, enjoy the view, and then head back to dry land.

But it feels great.

As I sit on the rocks, looking out to sea and drying off under the gentle sun, I feel as though the past twelve months have been washed away.

This is the New Year; I look forward to what it might bring.

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