The new year started with a grey but strangely calm day, which we had the privilege of spending at the centre of the universe, Portuairk, with friends who have a house with a magnificent view across Sanna Bay to the Small Isles. In the picture the distinctive tilted outline of Eigg is to the right, in the distance to its left, with snow on their peaks, are the Cuillins of Skye, Rhum is at centre with Muck lying low in front of it, and Canna is just visible in the left distance.
The air was unusually clear, so clear that we could see the sands of Sanna busy with people making the most of the break in the weather. This didn't last: by the time darkness fell it was raining again.
This morning, as soon as we could, we were out into the hills, climbing Druim na Gearr Leacainn, the ridge behind our house, and pausing to watch a rain shower move inexorably across the bay towards Kilchoan. The ground was sodden underfoot but the burns, despite the recent rain, had already gone down.
We crossed the ridge and dropped down into the valley between Druim na Gearr Leacainn (on the right) and Beinn na Seilg, and then turned westwards to follow the burn that drains the twin lochans. It rained, on and off, for much of the walk, but that made little difference to our enjoyment. It was wonderful to be out walking again after too much time spent indoors at Christmas and the New Year, and to be walking in country which is so wild and lonely.
We left the valley and climbed this hill, Dubh Chreag, the black crag. It would have been better called the windy crag: although a brisk wind was blowing throughout the walk, at the top of this hill it was almost impossible to stay on our feet.
From its summit we could see three huge cumulonimbus clouds moving majestically across the Minches, of which this is one. The dark island is Muck, and Canna can be seen on the horizon on the left.
Soon after we arrived home one of Shiel Buses' luxury coaches came by having spent some time up at the viewpoint at the end of the road. Coaches are a rare sight along the Ormsaigbeg road so we wondered what sort of tour had brought people out this way on what is, in Scotland, the second day of the new year holiday.