• Lilly

Dunnet Head - the Top of the Mainland

Dunnet Head, October, 2016. The most northerly point of the UK mainland (many think John O’Groats is furthest north but not quite). A milestone reached!

Loneliness - but the wonderful kind, not the sad kind. I had this place entirely to myself. It was windy, a bit dreary, but the clouds were high letting enough light through for the blues and whites of the ocean to really pop. It was chilly and I was bundled up against the wind. But it was a pleasant chilly - the kind of cold that feels cozy and welcoming.

I sat on a rock and took in the ocean air, the waves crashing at the base of the dramatic cliffs below me. I wondered what this place looked like in centuries past - the cliff had clearly eroded, as ocean cliffs always do. Below my feet was a type of light brown stone with pock marks, smoothed by wind and rain. Tufts of grass held on here and there, and further from the edge there was a narrow path with periodic piles of sheep droppings. As I'm sure you've gathered, sheep are everywhere in Scotland. In my head I had taken to calling them Woolsey Fluffybottoms, which made me smile, as did the creatures themselves. This is what happens to a solo traveler - you have inside jokes with yourself. (I might even admit to having a laugh with the stuffed highland cow that sat on my dash...)

I felt happy, being alone with the lighthouse, and the ocean. Having lived both on the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, lighthouses have always been alluring to me. This one was no different, sitting stoically and dutifully on the exposed cliff. Years of memories trapped in the tower walls. Robert Stevenson built this lighthouse, along with many others in Scotland. I envision his grandson Robert Louis Stevenson sitting on my rock, quietly taking inspiration from this place.