In July 2006 our journey to Callanish inspired the artwork for the 2007 Astro Calendar,
The map shows the slow route up to Callanish from our home in Brighton and the very fast trip back (well as fast as a G reg van will take you!). We visited as many sacred sites along the way as we, and the weather, could manage. We researched and drew along the way for our future calendars. Here's the map - the red lines are the journey up and the blue ones the journey back.
Daffy, our trusty van which took us from Brighton to Lewis and home again
We had been looking forward to this for over 10 years!! Having astrology as a main theme running through our lives has meant that we are often aware of planetary phenomenon. Years ago, we fantasized about all doing a journey up to the Outer Hebrides and I can't believe it is over!
The van is nearly ready and so are we.
We are leaving at lunchtime today the 20th of June and are travelling to Avebury for the Solstice.
Summer Solstice at Avebury
Our summer Solstice celebration was really lovely. Avebury was as stunning as ever and the weather of heavy cloud with spitty rain was really dramatic and atmospheric. Best of all, it was a warm summers evening.
There was an organised group who lit a circle of torches and held the circle of spirit whilst drumming some excellent rythms - very impressive. It focused everyone and united us all. We had a good dance in high energy. Local teenagers where there and where blown away by the celebrations.
When at the van in the car park, which was completely full, we were blessed with musical neighbours who played the flute, the penny whistle, guitar and violin. Lovely twinkly music to dance some more to. What a great way to build up to the Summer Solstice.
It was cloudy all night up to the point of day break when the clouds broke enough to see the Sun rising on the horizon and the clouds went pink.
Thanks to Annie for the photo.
! FANTASTIC !
Met friends and made new ones - all in all a lovely way to begin our journey.
There were so many stresses getting away that now there is a sense of relief. Its really nice to be here.
Thursday 22nd June
After a good long rest to recover from the journey and the Solstice, we awoke to the beauty of Lake Windermere on our doorstep. The weather was showery with lovely strong sun in between and dramatic wind.
We set off on what was to be a short stroll around the lake. After getting directions from the National Trust Warden, we set off in search off Latter Barrow, a striking hill near by with (apparently) spectacular views. After a while, our stomachs and the fact we had bought no food with us and were totally unprepared for a long journey, meant we took a detour to a place called Outgate where we found a pub with no food.
We decided to go on to Hawkshead where we found a lovely tearoom and brilliant our door clothing shops. For people that dislike shopping intensely (probably because we live in Brighton) we did well and bought some excellent and practical purchases for our journey we pleasure and ease!
After food, we set off once again in search off Latter Barrow, which this time was a success. Wow what a stunning view from the top with high winds.
After another walk back down the hill through High Wray, we finally reached home after our short 7 hour stroll!!
Swinside Fell, North of Millom, Cumbria
Friday 23rd June
After being woken by scavenging ducks in the early hours, we got up and headed off in search of Swinside Stone circle. We decided to abandon the idea of going to Grizedale Forest as there was nowhere to leave the computer securely and I didn’t want it on my back on a bike ride. Never mind, Grizedale will have to be another time.
What can you say about Swinside….It’s a near perfect circle of about 50 stones which have a feeling of calm serenity and welcoming. We talked about how modern society is so unconnected with the Earth and that maybe that is why we feel drawn to searching for stones so we can feel reconnected ourselves. We drank in the beauty of Swinside and it’s surroundings and appreciated the Earth for all that she gives us.
Funny that after a few hours, we headed off up the coast and past Sellafield nuclear plant which contrasted so much with where we had just been. Reminding us again of how much damage and pollution the human race is capable off. We did, however, find our goal of Blakely Rise (3 1/2 miles north east of Egremont), a small and quite isolated circle that to me felt a bit sad. Maybe the close proximity of Sellafield, the way the stones were cemented into the ground or just my own feelings affected my experience. I did say hello to the stones but we didn’t stay long. Also, we needed to find our stopping point for the night.
We carried on to Castlerigg, where I had a strong feeling to go to a campsite nearby rather than stop to see the stones. We had planned to stay around Castlerigg for the weekend, so I saw no rush to go to them but favoured dinner instead.
Arriving at the campsite, the van broke down. We then waited for the wonder AA man to rescue us and all is well once again. A small part is needed which we can hopefully get tomorrow. The weather has been gorgeous today and we now have a near 360 degree view of spectacular hills and glorious countryside and we are within walking distance of Castlerigg stone circle. If there is a visible sunrise in the morning then we will be there. we are within walking distance of Castlerigg stone circle.
If there is a visible sunrise in the morning then we will be there!
Saturday 24th June
We'd been living in the clouds. Wet but warm and quite refreshing. The scenery is so dramatic and the place feels so lovely, that it doesn’t seem to matter what the weather does. We’ve had dramatic, atmospheric weather and scenery. Also, the Northerners are very friendly. I immediately feel welcomed here.
The Stone circle of Castlerigg is on the summit of a hill with four valleys leading to it. It is the meeting point of the cross-roads where people have met for thousands of years. It feels a jolly and well visited stone circle. This place is inspirational, breathtaking and calming. I love it here and will definitely be back.
We walked to the stone circle from Castlerigg farm campsite. We had just arrived there and it started to rain. Our earlier purchases of waterproof trousers worked a treat! We sat with the stones in the rain and the amazing scenery. We were surprised that so many people persevered and visited in the hour we were there considering the weather.
Now we are back, refreshed. Its so lovely to be OUT in the beautiful countryside. It’s all so green and lush.
Hopefully tomorrow will bring some sunnier weather for our second visit to Castlerigg stone circle.
We would highly recommend this campsite for its stunning location, excellent facilities and friendly, warm and helpful hosts.
Monday 26th June
Leaving the lakes
In the morning we went to say goodbye to Castlerigg.
Driving away from Castlerigg and the Lake District, I felt sad. Reflecting on conversations with locals about the effects of foot and mouth disease. Local farmers that held a responsibility and pride of their herd of animals which was the work of generations before them. To have their entire farm slaughtered in one morning completely devastated them and the local economy. A lot of farmers didn’t have the heart to re-stock and start again especially as farming has had its day in England. To them, farming was more than a meat industry; it was their livelihoods, their love and passion. It ran in their veins. They loved their animals and their way of life.
Now, there is only the tourist industry that brings them a livelihood. Out countryside has become a leisure park. No cottage industry, no farming.
We were shocked to see that the house prices are as expensive as Brighton and the South East. How is that possible? The young that grow up here have no job prospects. They have to leave for the cities. The same the World over. Living off the land, with the land, is near impossible in England unless you’re prepared to run huge farms and with that comes factory farming and mass production which is draining our land of fertility.
A famous Indian female activist, Vandana Shiva, says that Indian farmers don’t want big corporations and jobs, they want their land and their livelihood.
Connection with the earth is connection to the spirit.
Anyway, all that is in contrast to the awe-inspiring surroundings. I feel very blessed to have been able to spend so much time with the Castlerigg stones.
We arrived at Long Meg and she’s amazing more than I had imagined. A large circle, the sixth biggest of all stone circles! Long Meg stands in the South West and is in line with the mid-winter sunset. Apparently, the Sun’s shadow casts clockwise spirals on its Northward journey towards mid-summer, anti clockwise as it moves back towards mid-winter. Long Meg has two spirals carved into her side. All the stones are pink and porous, weathered and holey. They are noticeably warm to the touch. Their energy is distinctly feminine.
Such a shame that the road, even though only very small, runs through the circle. Not as invasive as Avebury, but still….
Went off to find Little Meg, but to no avail. We searched for ages. Never mind, I’m sure we’ll be back.
As we drove to Scotland, the weather improved until we reached our destination of Oban in the glorious sunshine (at 9.30pm!) It was really nice to be out in the Sun at last even though it’s nearly time for bed! We’ve stopped in an absolutely stunning place and watched the sun set making both the clouds and their reflections pink. We have now retreated into the van due to the midges.
We are getting the ferry over to Mull tomorrow morning at 10am and are really hoping the phone coverage is good enough to upload the website ….
Tuesday 27th June
I woke up to see the sun rise across the water which was gorgeous. After this, I woke every half hour because I was so excited at the prospect of sailing to Mull – and also because I was so excited at seeing the Sun at long last!
The trip to Mull was calm and enjoyable. Leaving the mainland behind felt like the start of a whole new mystical chapter of our journey. And what a glorious day to do it! Everyone was in shorts and t-shirts – it was really hot!
Arriving on Mull, we immediately went in search of Loch Buie stone circle which was easy to find. It is a small circle with two main marker stones outside the ring, and one other I think which has been partly demolished. The stones here were incredibly warm and almost pulsating with energy. It feels like a very powerful place – which was visited, twice while we were there by a very large buzzard.
I did some drawing and we sat with the stones and the very friendly calf and sheep who in the end got inpatient with the amount of time we were spending there and resumed their favourite positions by the stones regardless of our presence.
We went on down the same road and found Laggan sands which was a gorgeous bay where we relaxed in the Sun. I feel so fed on every level being in this amount of pure untouched beauty. The air is so clean, it is a pleasure to drink it in and feels like every lung full is a complete healing in itself.
We carried on from the beach on a long drive to Fionnphort. It was only 25 miles but took over an hour due to the MAIN road being a single track.
We had booked our trip out to Staffa and Fingles cave for 10 in the morning. And then on to Iona for the rest of the day.
Because of this, we decided to stay near where we were catching the boat. It had been recommended to find Finne camp site by the Tourist Information, and WOW what a recommendation. It is on the shore of a white sandy beach with crystal clear water. The water felt warmer than Brighton and definitely cleaner!
It was a bit late to go for a swim but my plan is to get up early and have a dip before leaving for the boat.
It is absolute heaven here. All you can hear is the call of so many different birds.
The sun will set in the North West and rise again in the North East. From here we could see the sun's very short dip below the horizon before it rises again. It makes you aware of the time of year, the proximity to Solstice and how our seasons work.
We watched this most amazing sunset and lit our stove as it was going to be a cold night.
After watching the most amazing sunset from the van, we noticed just rising in the North West, the thin sliver of the two day old crescent Moon. She rose just above the horizon amid the pink glow of the set Sun. Then she was gone, less than three quarters of an hour later.
Along our journey, we had been honouring the Sun, beginning at the Solstice. Now we were joined by the Moon and would watch her rise earlier each night until she reached fullness in two weeks time – the culmination of our journey and watching the major Lunar Standstill at Callanish.
Wednesday 28th June
Staffa and Iona
The trip to Staffa was windy but still sunny! We bounced our way over on a small wooden boat full of cheery people and our skipper. Approaching Staffa was awe-inspiring.
On arriving, we went in search of puffins and very soon we were engulfed by dozens of the friendly little ‘clowns of the sky’.
They flew in and sat next to us on the cliff side. Puffins, apparently, like us humans and cannot land on the shore easily unless we are there as the seagulls will eat them without our protection. It was amazing to be so close to them and strangely, a number of people commented that it was quite emotional.
After this we walked round to Fingal’s cave and we experienced the penetration of the sea into the cave. WOW!
After an even more bouncy and now wet ride back where we saw a seal basking on the rocks, we sailed off to Iona and walked along the sea shore and up into the hills. It was extremely beautiful and we absorbed the serene energy of the island. By now we were quite exhausted after over a week of being on the go. We visited the nunnery which was lovely and built with beautiful pink stone.
Then we walked over to the abbey and then returned to Mull and Finne farm campsite where we spent the night just looking at the view and resting. We were mesmorised by the magic of the island and spent hours just looking at the view of the sea and Iona. What a special place. Mind blowing. It doesn’t seem to matter what the weather does, it is still absolutely gorgeous and so calming.
Thank you for this memorable experience.
Thursday 29th June
We travelled from Mull over to the mainland and up to Malaig through gorgeous mountains. Then over to Skye. The update is brief as the computer was charging at the whalespotting office where we were going off on a trip from in the morning.
Friday 30th June
We arrived on Skye and spent part of last night high up on a cliff side – until we decided to move to lower ground due to the extremely high winds and rain. We found sanctuary in a museum car park, which was great, but the stillness was not so great in the morning when we had to literally run away from the midges that were in heaven in the dampness. We both now have quite a few bites and have got all our mozzy deterrents out.
Our trip for the day, whale spotting was going ahead as planned which was amazing after the foul weather the night before! It changes so quickly here so you never know what to expect.
We set off on calm waters and soon spotted a whole load of seals and their pups basking on rocks.
Then we saw three porpoise (they are like small dolphins and are very shy) that gave us a show as we bobbed around trying to take photos which was impossible – sorry.
After this we had the great pleasure of seeing a whale quite near us. It was a quite big minky whale and it was amazing to actually see one and for it to be so close.
WE WERE REALLY EXCITED!
We powered on through now quite choppy seas. The wind was freezing! We were freezing! On round Rum and Eigg (two small islands of Skye), then around the most Southerly tip of Skye to see birds and grey seals.
When we got back we were absolutely exhausted and frozen. Three hours at sea is extremely tiring.
The rest of the day was taken up by mundane things and being exhausted. We will rest before setting off to explore some more of the island tomorrow.
Here’s our view for tonight from the Cuillin Hills.
Thanks to Sea.Fari for charging up the computer for us and giving us a great trip out.
Saturday 1st of July
Feeling really exhausted today. So much so, we couldn’t do anything. There’s been very strong winds so being outside is so much effort. We drove around Skye with the dramatic backdrop of the Cuillin Hills.
We ended up in the North West of the island in a place called Dunvegan. It’s rugged and peaceful there. Couldn’t go out and experience it though as it was TOO windy and we were TOO exhausted and feeling really low in energy. So…… we stopped at a campsite overlooking Dunvegan Loch and we’re chillied out. Phew. The boat trip the day before really took it out of us. Brilliant experience but the wind battered us and we now felt the consequences. Nothing that a bit of rest wouldn’t sort out.
Although it was REALLY windy, it was very warm and mostly dry. If you can find a sheltered spot it was lovely to be out but no walking for us!
A day in our lovely van feeling at home.
Anyone camping here in a tent is a nutter. The rain has just started and is horizontal. Thank goodness we are in our van!
Sunday 2nd July
Woke up to a misty moisty morning with no wind. It was a great relief not to be battling with the wind. A day to relax in our van again. Much needed and such a lovely setting. Dunvegan campsite is a small rugged site by the Loch and the hosts are very friendly and welcoming. The locals say that ‘if you can see mist on the mountains it’s going to rain and if you can’t see the mountains then it’s raining’
We read ‘Mother of the Isles’ by Jill Smith which really echoed our thoughts and feelings about the land here – how feminine, wild and energising it is. Brilliant book and well recommended to inspire our journey onward to Lewis.
The mists cleared in the afternoon and the blue sky and intermittent sunshine filled our hearts with joy as the landscape lit up with extraordinary beauty.
We walked down to Coral beach which was a spectacular white sandy beach which looked out towards Uist and made us think of the journey ahead. The walk filled us with love for the land. The air is so delicious to breath and there is quiet with only bird-song. So peaceful. We saw lots of seals basking on the rocks.
We had now stopped at a place called Edibane which has lovely views over a Loch. We were going out for a meal that night which was a well needed rarity!
The next day we were off to the Old Man of Storr so we really hoped the weather would be kind to us….
Monday 3rd July
We went to the East of the Isle of Skye in search of the Old Man of Storr. The weather was lovely and sunny with a slight wind and some cloud.
Storr is an amazingly dramatic place.
The mist hung over the old man intermittently which added to the mood of the place.
Coming from Portree, Skye’s main town, the outline of the Old Man’s face can be best seen.
When we arrived beneath him, he looked even more dramatic and imposing, towering above us.
We walked up the steep hill to the foot of the last climb to the Old Man, where we rested and took in the breath taking view of Raasay and the main land beyond. The slight mist gave the land a blue, mystical and gentle glow. We sat for over an hour taking in this view and talked about how we could see many figures of giants and goddesses in this glorious landscape of Skye.
After this, we carried on up the very steep climb to the foot of the Old Man, where we could see further over to the mountains of Scotland in the distance. Here, he towered mercilessly above us and made me feel like an ant which could be flattened at any point!
We then parked looking out at that view again and appreciating its glory as well as the presence of the Sun!
Tuesday 4th July
This was our first really hot and sunny day on Skye. We awoke in the car park beneath The Old Man of Storr but within about three minutes we had to drive rapidly away due to the midges! We have realised that trees and undergrowth is the home to swarms of them and are definitely places to avoid.
The sun was boiling hot and it was only 8 in the morning. We had breakfast at the beautiful spot we had found the night before at the cliffside. I drew a picture of the Old Man, who today, had taken on a kind of erotic mode…… We renamed him the dirty Old Man (hope no one finds this offensive but we found it funny!).
We tore ourselves away from this splendid view to walk down to Barrearaig Bay where the water was crystal clear. We walked to the top of the cliff where the view of the coastline was spectacular.
Then went down the steep zigzag decline to the beach.
Onward to Flodigarry Hotel where we had read of a fairy fort. Unfortunately, the fairies didn’t want to be found today – even the gardener who had lived in the area all his life knew nothing of it. So, we settled for a lovely lunch of locally caught Monkfish instead.
The landscape here is truly full of giants and goddesses everywhere you look. They look down on us watching and protecting. We have found the part of Skye we have fallen in love with. It’s immense beauty and ruggedness are sometimes overwhelming and altogether stunning.
It has been an amazing five days.
Now we were ready to go on in the morning to probably the most remote part of our journey – North Uist. We are not sure of the telephone reception on Uist so the updates maybe intermittent. Fingers crossed.
Wednesday 5th July
We have reached heaven
Absolutely bliss. Sunshine, blue shy, wispy clouds, long white coral sandy beach and a BIG sea!! Only the sound of the sea to be heard. Peaceful. Amazing. Can’t put into words. We’re sitting here with big sunny smiles! We have been looking forward to and hoping for this moment. Good weather with the amazingly beautiful setting.
We can see the hills of Barra over the turquoise sea. Dramatic and very pleasing to the soul. I think this journey has fed our souls which we so needed as we are deprived of beauty being in Brighton. Brighton has a lot to offer but beauty is not one of them. The West is so much more lush, wet, green and beautiful.
It is so nice to be here.
This morning, we had a lovely calm sailing through the mists and sunlight and saw a basking shark very close to the ferry. Once we had arrived at Uist, we set off for Langass stone circle. Driving out of Lochmaddy, we were soon faced with a distressing scenario. They are building a massive road straight across to the West to replace the old one. Lots of diggers, a helicopter, lots of rubble, desecration, mass Mother Earth violation. After walking with her and connecting as one with her, seeing the mass digging and holes and noise on such a large scale was quite distressing. I understand that we need roads but when they have no thought. Instead of enlarging the present road which goes with the curve of the land, they are levelling so you get a road like a motorway that cuts straight through.
What was also distressing was that the most amazing stone circle was nearby. Would we be able to access it and how would it be if we found it? Eventually, we arrived at a hotel car park and got chatting to an old couple about their experiences of the island. They were heading home after being on the road in their campervan for 2 months! They gave us lots of useful information. Thank you.
We then set off on foot over moorland until we soon reached a beautiful stone circle – Pobull Fhinn. It’s on a hillside of bracken and heather over looking Langass Loch. Luckily, the hill kept the noise of the road building at bay so we were in quiet apart from the helicopter transporting stuff from and two the road building site!! It is known as the white or holy people. The setting was beautiful with a large pregnant goddess mountain lying on her back as a dramatic backdrop. It felt untouched. Visited by walkers but left quite wild. The heather has grown up around the stones making them quite difficult to touch. We looked down onto many little lochs all around us. You can understand why they call it “the sunken isle”. There were lots of seals and birds including a large buzzard. We walked up into the hills and again fell in love with the land and felt at one with her. The ground is bouncy underfoot, which makes it easy to walk as it’s so wet, even so high up!
Then onward we went to find a beach. We drove and drove, some single track, some double. It all felt quite bleak but then the weather didn’t help as this was also cloudy and bleak. There was lots of building gong on, flat land, telephone pylons, grey buildings but also lots of water all around. The place must light up fantastic with the Sun as there is so much water to reflect upon.
Anyway, we eventually reached where we are in South Uist – nearly right at the bottom. And it’s gorgeous. Perfect. And no midges! The (light) wind is our friend as it keeps them away. It’s 8pm and the sun is still strong and nowhere near the horizon. There are loads of Oyster Catchers on the shore side pecking away at the sand with their long orange beaks. Their call is very distinctive.
If we have a glorious sunset, it may be a late night…….
Thursday 6th July
We have spent the day in an internet café in Benbecula dealing with work issues. Although this was stressful, it was okay as the weather deteriorated last night and has remained grey, windy and rainy.
It is amazing that out of all of the islands, the Uist’s have had the best phone reception and wireless internet connection! They also have lots of public toilet and shower facilities for wild campers like us.
We have ended up in a beautiful surfing bay in North Uist next to a nature reserve and are waiting for the sun to come out, lets hope….
Friday 7th July
The Beaches of Uist
Well the Sun did come out and what a glorious place to wake up in to enjoy it!
We walked on the white sandy beach and found beautiful stones.
Then we went back for breakfast before resuming a horizontal position in the sun – real sunbathing!
What can you say about the scenery here ….
Words don’t really describe how stunning this is.
We realise that the grey of yesterday doesn’t do Uist justice at all and that all the watery loches become a stunning blue in the sunlight contrasting against the bright green grass and yellow of the buttercups. You could think this is a grey and bleak place until the Sun comes out and illuminates it all. Then it just blows your mind!
We sail in the morning from Berneray to Harris, the final leg of our journey North where we will meet our friends. It will be the first time for nearly three weeks that we will be with other people. We are both looking forward to seeing our friends as well as seeing some stunning places on Harris.
Saturday 8th July
We parked up yesterday on the little island of Berneray, in the very North of Uist ready to sail the next morning. Unfortunately, it was quite exposed and there were windy rainstorms all night meaning we had very unsettled sleep.
After the nights storms, we were amazed to be sailing on calm seas. It’s not far from North Uist to South Harris but there are lots of rocks and small islands which the boat navigates through, so it takes an hour. It is a lovely journey.
Our friends were waiting at the port to met us and had also just arrived on Harris. It was really lovely to see them and we excitedly shared experiences from each other’s journeys.
We then visited St Clements church on the very Southern point of Harris. It’s a very interesting church in many ways. It’s built around the base stones of Roineabhal, the southern most mountain know as An Aite Boidheach (the beautiful place). The majority of the locals are fighting to stop the building of one of Europe’s largest super-quarries where Roineabhal would virtually disappear in the next 70 years.
St Clements church has many stones in the graveyard that are very old, not the carved and polished headstones we use nowadays.
One small stone with a hole in it was different. Then there is a tower you can climb. Small steep stone stairs that tightly snake up to a small room where there are ladders that go up two floors to the top.
We found the sheelagh-na-gig halfway up the South side of the tower and, unusually, she has a male counterpart displaying his genetiallia on the towers west face.
We drove up the West coast of Harris which is just stunning and today quite dramatic with the dark clouds. The golden sands of wind swept beaches and beautiful blue sea, which you know would be turquoise in the Sun.
We parked up and all walked along a beach and up onto the machair (a Gaelic term describing the sand enriched coastal grassland) up to a glorious and majestic standing stone.
What I love about seeking standing stones is that their surroundings are usually beautiful. I just love this landscape and I love walking with the land. It fulfils something deep within.
We are now parked up on one of these beautiful beaches and will travel tomorrow to the cottages, all our friends and the Major Lunar Standstill, the climax of our journey.
Sunday 9th July
The Sun shone brightly this morning when we awoke and we drove past some of the most stunningly gorgeous beaches on Harris – wow! We stopped for breakfast and took in the view. We found a lovely stone near the one we went to see yesterday. We then set off for the very last part of our journey – the climax of the last three weeks. We hope to return to Harris if the weather is good later in the week.
Our friends had rented two cottages about four miles away from the stones, but we couldn’t resist going to say hello to them on the way through.
As we came into Callanish, we saw the magnificent stone circle up on the hill side. We excitedly drove up and parked ready to slowly take in the stones. Each and everyone is absolutely amazing. Their shapes, the crystal stone, their beauty and their immenseness. And altogether as a whole….. Amazing and brought tears to my eyes. Full of so much appreciation. They are so beautiful. I’m really looking forward to spending days with these stones. They are so tall and strong. Thank you so much.
After some time, we had to tear ourselves away to go to the cottage and sort ourselves out. Some computer work had to be done and showers to be had – such a relief! Meeting up with everyone who had travelled from all corners of England to be here was great – lovely to see our friends!
The Moon and the Sleeping Beauty
We all gathered looking out towards the mountain as the Sun was setting. The light was amazing in the stones and the sky was amazingly clear! Tonight was not full Moon but apparently the Moons lowest point in the sky – so we were hoping for a really good show. Between 100 – 150 people had gathered expectantly in the stones – would it stay clear?
We worked out the we had about an hour and a half for the Moon to rise and a big cloud was on the horizon and heading towards the Seeping Beauty….
As it got towards the time of Moon rise, the cloud was on top of the mountain, but everyone was optimistic as there were definitely partings in the cloud which was blowing in. Then she peeped through! At first a very small part of the Moons orange glow could be seen. Everyone was whooping with excitement – and encouragement for the Moon. Pagans as well as Christians were singing and the energy was now very high. It was a very emotional joyous and exciting experience. The culmination of 18 years – and of many personal journies to reach this point.
She gave us an amazing show for over an hour – rolling across the mountain and the stones – a huge orange Moon!!!! WOW!!!!!
She went back into the clouds and out again – teasing us then giving us the gift we were all waiting for. We were so blessed – amazing!!!
Later, we waited at the bottom of the avenue to see if she would show again – with in the stones, but she was gone and it was not to be. Maybe tomorrow when she is full – we have another chance.
It was great that so many people had come to honour her and it was lovely to share such an amazing experience with all our friends and to meet new ones. What a truly amazing night – one I’ll never forget.
Monday 10th and Tuesday 11th July
The weather for the last two days had been awful.
It started with heavy rain in the day on Monday and developed into a major strom pretty quickly.
The wind ripped through us - only interupted by incredibly heavy rain. We thought we may see the Moon but soon after this optimism, the heavens opened and just didn't stop!
We were confined to the van all day and night on Monday and to the house on Tuesday because we are exhausted now. It has been the only days of the journey that we have taken no photo's.
We spent Monday evening in the van with two refugees who were too scared to return to their tents. We thought we would wait for a lull so the refugees could escape, but it never came.......
We sat until 5am and honoured the moment of the Full Moon at 4.04am, then tried to sleep. It was impossible because of the incredible wind.
By 9pm on Tuesday the wind had still not let up! We had taken refuge at the house and were enjoying the calm of four walls - I never thought I would choose to be in the house and not my van! We were then going back out there to find somewhere sheltered to sleep. We hoped the wind would drop.....
We experienced the full extreme of the Hebridean weather.
Wednesday 12th July
The Sleeping Beauty and The Lewis Women
We’ve had a very special day today with our very good friend, Linda who has inspired us on many of our journies.
We started by visiting an exhibition put on by Margaret and Ron Curtis (resident archaeologists), which was held in an outbuilding of their house. They had lots of really interesting information and amazing photos and diagrams of the Callanish stone circles. As well as the main circle there are many others very close by which we plan to visit tomorrow.
We then drove to the Sleeping Beauty mountains and spent some time being with her. The plan was to walk on her but the weather is still so windy that walking is out of the question. It’s a battle just getting out of the van! She is absolutely beautiful. The closer you get the more she looks like a sleeping beauty. You can even see the strands of her hair flowing down. The landscape on these islands is really full of goddesses and giants.
We then went on to Stornoway, the main town of the island, and ate some amazing food at Digby Chicks.
After which, we went and listened to the Lewis Women singing as part of the Hebridean Music Festival. They blew our minds with the pure beauty of their voices. All sung in Gaelic so we didn’t understand the words but felt the deep soulness of their voices. Six women, all exceptional singers on their own and with each other. Brought tears to the eyes! Their voices brought the same deep feelings as walking the land and sailing the sea on these islands. Very touching and we feel blessed to have had this experience. Thank you.
Our whole journey had been amazing and I’d found myself being so much in appreciation. We couldn’t have asked for more (except for the wind to drop!!).
On a high and blissed out, we visited the Callanish stone circle once again. It was about 11pm and the wind was really full on so we spent our time sheltering behind the large stones for protection!
As we pulled up outside the cottage, we were blown away by the Moon, which just suddenly appeared from behind the clouds in all her glory. What a beautiful ending to a beautiful day.
We stayed up until 3am socialising around the open fire in the living room burning the peat from the land that makes a really lovely fire. The night before we had spent the whole evening around the fire chatting, laughing, joking, story telling, playing and singing. All the things we love to do together. It was so nice to be experiencing this journey with such good friends.
That evening we exchanged stories of our day’s experiences. Everyone had had an amazing mind blowing day and we all acknowledged how blessed we’ve been and talked about returning in 18.6 years time…….
Thursday 13th July
Today the weather calmed down – thank goodness. After a hectic trip to Stornoway, we decided to go back to Callanish.
It was really lovely to be at the stones with no wind or rain! It was sunny and calm and with hardly any people at all. In fact, twice, I had the whole place to myself….
We decided to walk over to the other stone circles which are within a stones throw of the main circle. It is quite awesome to look back at Callanish from afar and admire the profile on the hilltop – majestic, proud and strangely feminine.
We could now also see how exposed we had been during the storm.
We walked over to the first set of stones and relaxed in the Sun. One stone stood out to us and we agreed she was the queen. It was a very calm experience.
We carried on to the next circle where we sat for a long while in silence. The circle is a double ring and set alongside the other two, even more special.
When we returned, we felt we had once again walled the land which we have dearly missed. The weather has made it impossible but now we can enjoy it once again. Phew
Friday 14th July
We went off with our lovely friend, Heike, to explore the little isle of Great Bernera. There’s a small bridge that joins the island to the mainland and just as you come across it you are met by three standing stones. We spent some time with the stones and their beautiful surroundings. The Sun has been with us today in abundance and the whole landscape just lights up into the most gorgeous scenery. So content, so still, so happy. The whole place is teaming with life. Watching the birds and nature all around. We spent time with a family of wrens who were a treat to observe.
One of the stones is like an old crone, bent over pointing at Callanish. The stone actually looks bent. Quite amazing.
We left the stones and drove across the island on its one track road to the end where we found the most amazingly beautiful beach. Extraordinary!
It wasn’t long until we were in the sea for a quick dip. Absolutely freezing. The first time is the most shocking to the body. Then is becomes easier!
All our friends eventually arrived and we all played excitedly like children in the sea. Brilliant fun with lots of screaming!
Then we sunbathed in the glorious Sun which we’ve missed so much. Perfect weather - fresh, hot and slightly breezy. We spent quite a while catching glimpses of a seal who was fishing in the bay and much later we saw his mate too.
The stones, rocks and shells are all beautiful here. Full of sparkly crystal. The weather today has been such a treat. The locals tell us this is a rarity so we are really lucky. You really couldn’t ask for more.
We were told how bleak Lewis was and thought it ourselves when we first arrived. However, we soon realised that there is a magnificent beauty to its simplicity and that the whole place is SO alive. Flowers, grasses, birds. We saw lots of different birds today including the Wagtail, Oyster Catchers and Shags. The heather is just coming out in flurries of deep purple which sets off the green of the grasses, the yellow of the buttercups and the deep blue of the lochs and the sea.
For our friends, this is their last day and they have all been blissed out. Couldn’t have been better. As they agreed: a beautiful ending to a beautiful trip. We still have the weekend and if tomorrow is like this, we will return to this bay.
We’ve all torn ourselves away, returning to the cottages to cook up a feast for tonight. It’s going to be a late one….
Later that night
Last night, just as we were going to bed we saw the moon rising. We were so excited that we decided to go back to the stones and enjoy the calm and clear night.
It was gorgeous. No-one around and very still. We stayed in the stones for ages – just being with them and the Moon. The sunset was now turning to sunrise - although I knew I was too exhausted to stay up. It was a fine way to complete our journey and now it seems like a good place to end our story so there probably won’t be anymore write ups. I will be putting up more photo’s when I get home. We are going to spend today and tomorrow resting before we begin our very rapid journey south – we hope to be in Brighton by Tuesday night.
It has been the most amazing month – one that will stay with me for the rest of my life. The journey up to Lewis through the islands, meeting the stones of Callanish, experiencing the lunar standstill and seeing the Moon with some of the most special people in my life (and meeting some very special new friends too) has added up to a truly unforgettable experience. I know that I, and many other people will look back at this time and will savour the memories and experiences we have all had here and on our individual journies to get here for ever.
Thanks to everyone who has emailed me while on the journey and special thanks to: