Hebrides Express - by Jeanne T. & MPQ.
September 25, 2015
Five days. That's all we've got. For a round trip to the Isle of Mull it's more than enough. On these same roads eight years ago, with a friend, we did our Scottish deflowering in a van. The reasons to go back on the road this year are numerous and nice! A report with the Zeppelins, and above all to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the discovery of a small corner of Scottish paradise. Back 10 years later on the one-track roads, it's Jeanne's turn to give us a story and pictures. MPQ.
We gave up the Firemen's Ball for a fantastic ride through England and Scotland. Paris-Calais-Douvres-Liverpool-Corran-Lochaline-Mull Island. MPQ. picks up the Esquisse (the van fitted out by WeVan) in Nantes and joins me in Paris. In anticipation of the 20-hour drive ahead of us, we're going to draw some energy from the concert given by the folk band June Bug at a record store in Barbès. M. has planned a tight schedule. Around Glasgow, we have an appointment with the tandem of Zeppelin photo-reporters. We have to take them to our final destination, the Isle of Mull, in the New Hebrides archipelago west of Scotland. Jim and Patience, an English couple, run a family farm there, breeding a few hundred Blackface sheep.
Every summer, their tribe, shepherds, friends and families, go to the peninsulas, mountains and glens of their domain to look for the sheep in freedom. They call this age-old activity "gathering". Once the sheep are gathered, they shear their fat winter wool, then they free them for a new year of wandering. Galvanized by their friend MPQ's passion for this place full of lochs where the fairies hover, the two Zeppelin reporters decided to make the trip. More accustomed to the slums of Dhaka than to a place of barely 6 inhabitants per km2, they rely on their friend's word to bring back a "subject". I already know a little bit about the places and I tell myself that it must be difficult to photograph the man in this space.
In the glens, very long and deep green valleys whose formation dates back to the Ice Age, man is really tiny. It won't be easy to make the connection between these English people, jealous of their intimacy, and the two reporters. The photographers who left Strasbourg are a few hours ahead of us. And the English are waiting for us for dinner the next day at the cottage on the island... But in our superiorly lazy vision of the road trip, we let the time slip away to a café terrace. We rush on the fluid periphery at 22h direction Calais. Arrived at the ghost stop, we miss our shuttle by a few minutes. F…!
We wait for the next one between 2 and 4 in the morning, with exorbitant eyes, at the terminal drugstore where between Burger King and Sainsbury's sleepy Poles and their families hang out. The light turns green; we finally enter a long corridor with pale lights. The lights dim and the engines shut down. 35 minutes later, at dawn, we land at Folkestone on a fluorescent ramp. The arrows blink in all directions. At this hour when everything seems uncertain, I suspect my co-pilot is no longer so alert... So we impose on ourselves an invigorating breakfast of roll and melted cheddar cheese, so as to integrate radically into this new territory. Decidedly, we skip the steps... I take the morning shift and try valiantly to drive left on the M6 towards Manchester. I dream of going for a detour into the bocage, but I console myself by telling myself that it is also a pleasure to trace the road. We cross the "border" with Scotland without realizing it.
The crossing of the Clyde River on the Erskine Bridge is spectacular. At a nearby petrol station in Glasgow, the Zeppelin photo-reporters are waiting for us in their green land rover defender, the "def", a faithful campaign of their curly-haired men. We form a strange convoy on the increasingly winding and wet roads, lined with lochs, which gradually lead us to the end of the journey. In spite of the drizzle, the green of the Argyll hills continues to diffuse light. 20 hours of uninterrupted driving, mixed with the excitement of arriving, ended up waking us up more than usual. We let ourselves be lulled by the ferries that join the continent to the Ardnamurchan peninsula and then to Craignure, our arrival point on the Isle of Mull.In the small grocery store in the harbour, we make our first reserves of Tobermory whisky in anticipation of our future circumnavigations on the island. A few more laces under the pines... before we reach the dogs' bark, in the padded hall to the weathered hollowed-out armchair...
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