Photo: Waves crash into coastal headlands at the Butt of Lewis, Isle of Lewis, Scotland. Jan 2, 2012
I woke up at 3:00 AM Monday morning to the sound of rain pattering against the car. It was my second night camping in Glencoe, a brief stopover on the way back south from a week on the Western Isles over the New Year. More rain I thought to myself. Endless Damned rain! Uggghhh. Sunrise would arrive in 5 hours, but I knew I would see nothing but a wet grey sky. So at that, I got in the drivers seat and headed into the darkness across Rannoch Moor to start the 8 hour drive back to Wales.
Now Scotland is not exactly a sunny country, but it turns out I decided to head north to catch the last days of the wettest December in a hundred years. And I have no doubt the trend was continuing right along into 2012 without stop. From December 31st on Berneray to the early days of January on the Isles of Lewis, Harris and across to Skye, a gale blew, non-stop, day and night, forever. I’m no stranger to bad weather, but usually there is some calm at some point. Not here, not for me. I never knew the wind could blow so much for so long. And it’s not as if I even caught the start of it, it has been blowing up there for weeks. It’s as if there is some hole in the atmosphere above Scotland and all the the earth’s air is escaping, though not prior to releasing an ocean’s worth of rain.
At times I could hardly walk. Sometimes hail fell so hard I though the car’s windshield would crack. Huge Atlantic swells battered the headlands at the Butt of Lewis, sending spray high into the air and seeming to make the ground shake with their power. There were even cancelations of the ferries to the islands, a rare thing. Though I’m sure a captain or two would have tried to take a boat across if he could. I think some of them must be born of the sea itself after hearing about some of their crossings.
So despite the conditions and feelings of frustration and failure, I did manage to find some fleeting moments to make some images. Maybe not the images I had in my mind, but a few decent ones none the less. And more reason to return again in the future. I’ll add more details and photos over the next days.