Just back at 9 Torrin for the evening after six days working above Lock Coruisk. The most amazing camping, between sea Loch Nan Leachd and freshwater Loch Coruisk. Off early tomorrow for another week working in Quiraing NE Skye.
The weather was magically kind, looks like Hurricane Bill had finally got bored and left us with some high pressure weather. Loch Coruisk is really special. So much to look at, impossible to know where to start. From where we camped we could see 40 seperate mapped features that people had taken the trouble to name. Visually intense. Waterfall sounds. Strange crows that live in the cliffs above. That wonderful electric smell of kelp. Weather that totally dominates your mood and the practical dispositions of your world.
Hard red-grey granite, sometimes sharp sometimes sinuous and scored by glaciers. Clouds that grasp and beckon like fingers. Old, old rocks, marked by fire and ice, the two extreme forces that shape landscape. As Bill said, most mountain ranges that are old are also worn down. These definitely are not, despite being some of the oldest rocks on the surface of our world.
Bill cracked right on, I went rather quiet for a day or two. It was also a challenge to work with oils in the open but I slowly learned to make a workspace on a rock and to start settling my dancing eyes. But it was so exciting to just be carried by the visual torrent that was unfolding right in front of me. Really exciting to be handling colour in such variable light. My little glass palette turned into an anvil where I was hammering out the grey-reds that make up these extraordinary rocks and the blue greys that mark the weather. And the greens - I used shed loads of prussian blue and lemon yellow. Good enough for Turner (he did a really balletic watercolour of Loch Coruisk) and definitely good enough for me.
Waiting for the boat back we met two climbers Adrian and Charles, who nonchalantly mentioned they had ‘walked' a traverse of several peaks, including the Monroe Sgurr Nan Eag and Sgurr A'Choire Bhig. Looked like a lot more than a walk to me, more like tightrope walking (without the rope). It's amazing how respect and admiration for this landscape can bring total strangers together so quickly. They gave Bill some Avon Skin so Soft - because his Alaskan insect repellent called Deet was being totally ignored by the Skye Midge. Here's my answer to them inglorious varmints : dress flamboyantly and rub myself with Tiger Balm :
This midge really impressed Bill, even though mosquitos once took two pints of blood from a drunk passed out on the banks of the Chena River in downtown Fairbanks.
When we got back we visited Elgol school, to show them our work and to find out what it is like to live in a place as beautiful as this all year round. We showed our work, and were both totally bowled over by the fresh curiosity of the kids. I gave thenm some blank pages from my leperello sketchbook and they promised to do some work in it. We ended up doing a long drawing together, lovely vigourous and colourful marks. The sort of effortlessness that adults really have to work on. I wish my primary school had been as nice as that.