Monday, 9 August 2010

Round The 'Horn

"The sea is boring, like grief is
But beautiful, like grief is not"

Norman MacCaig

Sometimes, there is nothing better than a boring sea. Boring and beautiful. It is on days like these that the apparent exposure and infinite-ness of the sea is as comforting as withdrawing to a fire-side hearth. On the rare occasions when the sea is calm, predictable, it forgets who it's meant to be and becomes a balm to tired eyes.

Today, we are nosing in and out between rocky islets off the Isle of Whithorn and up to Garlieston off the Dumfries coast. Both fishing hamlets, quiet aside from the folk walking dogs and children along the rocky beaches. These are hamlets that time has forgotten in its race for sameness. The bar is still full of locals, characters, grumpy staff. Old men with faces chiselled by salt and wind still go fishing off the pier. And they still play bowls.

We haul up in White Port, a tiny cove that has no access by land. The fringe of tiredness has receded like the tide drawing lazily away from the kayaks on its planetary journey.

Later, on a run into the thick forests of Dumfrieshire, spotlights flashed in and out of the burn on its way to the sea. It seemed as if the forests were breathing out. It was warm, and there was a sense that they were steaming.

Rising out of the forests and on to the glens, I saw it. The trees were indeed exhaling.

The Solway coast up here on the Scottish side is always a delightful surprise to the kayaker. Tucked away behind unassuming, green, rolling hills, the rocks on the coast are upturned, and the sea is busy making islands, teeth and gaping caves. It's on days like these that it's great to be there, on the journey.