'Agree With Everything - Deny Nothing - Embellish All

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Kylesku Bridge

At Kylesku, deep in Sutherland, the high road leaps across Loch a'Chairn Bhain on an elegant, spritely concrete bridge that curves extravagently between two rock promontories. At the far end is a stone memorial to the British submariners and 'human torpedoes' of World War II who trained in these waters. The list of their dead is long: the description of their operations, manoeuvring two-man subs sat astride explosive-stuffed cylinders onto the keels of enemy warships in dark, muddy, freezing waters, terrifyingly claustrophobic. Tonight, in the upper world of Sutherland the light of the midsummer evening gives an intensity to the blues of the loch, the greens of the hillside that is a kind of wildly expansive luxury. Above me the green hillsides sweep upwards to 800 feet of sheer cliff: the sandstone buttresses of Sail Gharbh, north-eastern spur of Quinag, loom like a dreadnought's prow. The mountain seems painted by the wild vision of one imagining some otherworld. For a moment it is not of this earth. I pause and wonder what thoughts and sensations this hill engendered in the human torpedoes of Kylesku when they turned their eyes away from the deep.

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