The ferry ride from mainland Skye to the Isle of Raasay is less than a half hour. The view is spectacular whether looking back toward The Cuillins or ahead to Raasay. The island (twenty-four square miles) boasts a current population of 194, which I presume includes the twelve school-aged children I saw getting off the local Skye bus and boarding the 4PM ferry home. According to Wikipedia, “Raasay has the lowest percentage of children of any populated Scottish Island.” But this is a blog about solitude, silence and simplicity, not about travel --you know how to get search for any information you want.
I don’t always stay silent when traveling alone. Sometimes I chat for a little bit, but never for very long. No one need worry that they will get stuck with a gabby, lonely American! Just yesterday, while waiting for the ferry, an English couple told me about the destination wedding they had attended at Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull. Interesting enough but once we got on the ferry, I disappeared. No way did I want to join them for lunch--I’m sure as much to their relief as mine.
Off the ferry and a fifteen minute walk up, yes up hill, to the only hotel and eating place on the island, which overlooks the Bay of Raasay and The Cullins. After lunch I took a hike along the John Muir Trail. (How many J. M. trails are there in the world?). In a thicket along the meadow right before the woods, I was greeted by a friendly dog, the companion of two grey-haired women who were rummaging about in the brush and rocks. I asked them my usual question: “Find any treasure?”
“There might be an archeological dig around here. Whenever we have time we look for one.” Seems they live on the island. When I commented that it must be very peaceful and calm living here, they responded, “Yes, on the days when we’re not going to take the ferry. Then we have to pay a lot of attention.” I said that I guessed it was a challenge to lead a life of simplicity even here, and went on my way.
Here’s mine. Tall, tall standing pines creaking against each other:; thousands of broken pines crisscrossing each other. There I stood: in awesome solitude; in the overwhelming silence of nature; in the complex simplicity of life’s cycle of birth, death and rebirth.