Glenelg, a broad glacial valley sloping gently down to a wide, handsome bay, used to be a main route to Skye, until the new ferry (and more recently the road bridge) were established at Kyle of Lochalsh. Nowadays, the little ferry carries only a few cars at a time to Kylerhea, its two operators being helped by a friendly but manic border collie.
The valley itself, still very unspoiled, is packed with history. A little to the north are four sets of barracks built after the 1715 Jacobite rebellion. The best-preserved broch in mainland Scotland is Dun Telve (pictured), in Gleann Beag in the southern part of Glenelg. These Iron Age defensive settlements, with their intricate double-walled construction, are an impressive reminder that our ancestors were often far more ingenious and sophisticated than we sometimes suppose.
My lips are cold as the tip of my spear.
I stamp my feet, swathed in supple deer hide,
but my toes still ache, my breath is a cloud,
my nose runs, I cannot feel my ears.
Father Sun is pale and weak, an old man.
He hides behind the white mist this morning,
like a coward in battle shivering,
covering his golden eye with his hand.
Today will be long. I will stand today
like a forest oak whose leaves barely stir,
like a rock, like the wise Old Man of Storr,
and all men and things evil will keep away.
My wife, gods preserve her, and my wee bairns
lie safe and warm, I trust, within these stones
behind me, this broch, this keep and home
my brothers and I built with our own hands.
No wolf will dare approach, no hungry bear,
no men of the south shaking their white spears,
no dark-faced, bearded sailors from northern shores,
no petty lordling seeking fame and honour.
We carried these stones, my brothers and I,
and our knuckles bled. That blood sacrifice,
little and simple as it was, has sufficed.
We fear nothing but the falling of the sky.