The sunlight strikes purple on the hillside sprinting down to the ocean. Gauzy and warm like a child’s blanket, the air is a physical body filling my lungs and draping the landscape in veils of cloudy blue. There is a disappearing path running around the cliff tops, happily bereft of rails and warnings, sustained only by the infrequent tread of the curious. I cross over clefts that drop away to the surging sea and over spongy patches of gorse and heather buffeted by the Atlantic gales. Every labored breath passes over gritty earth and sea salt. In the distance, the headlands of Islay ceaselessly clash with the sun, sea, and sky.
I don’t know where I’m going. Eventually I stop before a simple wooden post with an arrow pointing to the heavens. Or is it forward? There are a handful of moments where I allow the elements to batter me in my stillness. It’s the first sign I’ve seen on this hike, but everything – the blinding sun, the glittering sea, the eye-watering wind – is urging me to close my eyes, stop looking, and keep moving forward.