Little Swallow Magic

It smells like fish and grease, it is warm and very cosy and many slightly overweight older couples are having huge and beautifully decorated platters of various versions of fish and chips around us. I am looking out onto Loch Torridon and into the grey and rainy sky and the damp and misty air above the Loch that I have come to like a lot by now. The „Shieldaig Bar & Coastal Kitchen“ seems to be very popular amongst locals, which made it our place of choice. Outside, a group of fishermen are having their pint for lunch, all geared up and ready to jump back on the old and beautiful boats lingering on the pier of the town of Shieldaig.

Before we found this place, we bought fresh baked bread, flapjacks and various jams from an honesty box called the „Little Swallow“. The very delicious homemade goods are made by a man who lives up in the mountains here, as I was told by a local lady. He comes down daily to put fresh products into this box that is installed outside his friends place on the main road of the village. Passer-byers can pick up something out of the box and leave the money in a little box provided for it. The very fair prices, are written on the inside of the box. The labels of all the products read the music he was listing to while making them, so we enjoyed some of the bread with „Tom Waits“ tomato chutney or „Leonard Cohen“ Orange curd.

On the way here, we picked up a young guy who was hitchhiking and on his way to spend his sunday watching the sea eagles, who tend to roam in this area. He told us that he was working on an estate here, planting the native trees that have not been able to grow back for years because of the very dense population of deer here, who graze off all the saplings. Another guy who picked us up in his truck when we were hitchhiking ourselves, so before we had a rental car ourselves, told us that the trees were originally cut and burnt down to have more room for pasture land for the sheep. But now there is not enough vegetation to support that amount of deer, so many of them die, especially in the winter. There is an argument that it would actually be wise to hunt more of them to give the trees and the deer themselves more of a chance, but that is an obvious dispute in this ecological system.

So today is a resting day for us. We spontaneously decided this morning, as it was so very comfortable in our sleeping bags and so very wet and uncomfortable as far as we could see outside the car windows. We had spent the night next to The plan had been to hike a ridge in the Torridon range that was supposed to have a very special view and landscape, but the sight was also very limited and it would not have been worth the hike in the dense clouds. So again, we have changed plans and will hike up and around the Ben Eighe tomorrow, and then over the Liathan Ridge on tuesday morning before we have to go back to Glasgow to fly home on wednesday.

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