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On the edge of the Atlantic


Hill lochans, peat bogs and wild flower machair stretch out behind me; I’m on the white shell sand at the edge of the Atlantic, gazing out at hazy St Kilda, forty miles away. Beyond that it’s Canada.

I’m just the latest to stare out from the western shore of North Uist across thousands of miles of sea to wonder about friends or family on the “other side”. Hundreds left from here in the early 1800s, bound in the main for Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Desperation drove them on perilous one way journeys because they couldn’t afford to pay high rents on their small crofts and there was no mercy from the landowners who effectively “cleared” them from their land.

Maybe that’s why this feels such a fragile, poignant place; it’s haunted by the memories and the longing of families who’ve gazed for two centuries from either side of the ocean. You hear ancient whispers in the western wind and sense a long sorrow for the loss of homeland.



7 Comments Post a comment
  1. twoscamps #

    Beautiful, beautiful stretch of beach! 🙂

    April 22, 2014
  2. Wow, beautiful place. We read a little about some of those families in a museum in Pictou, Nova Scotia about the voyage of the Hector, and the struggles when they arrived. Very touching.

    April 16, 2014
  3. Breathtaking. Thank you for this moment of reflection and grace.

    April 7, 2014
  4. Fabulous photo again, you have such a good eye!

    April 6, 2014
  5. What a beautiful sweep of a beach! Thanks for the insight into why many people left such a beautiful place.

    April 6, 2014
    • It happened across the Highlands of Scotland, Annelli and the ruins of abandoned crofts are still visible in many places where people were replaced by sheep. The sense of injustice lives on.

      April 6, 2014

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