The land is slow here. Green hillsides flow gently down and shallow lochs lie pooled in their hollows. Sheep, cows and horses lazily graze and the odd car putters along the small single-track road which curves along to the beach, where the gentleness finishes and the land disgorges itself between steep-cliffed jaws.

Great slid slabs and tumbled boulders lie piled around a choked throat of a beach, thrown up from a raw red gut. Some are smoothed into sensual bulbs and bulges by the steady lapping of the sea, but at the edge of the sand, worn rows of serrated teeth catch at the sea’s lips, and white waves rush over and smash into scudding cream foam.

Someone nearby told me that only a few years ago the beach was scalloped and sculpted with golden-white sand, before a few storms blew it all up onto the grass (and the farmhouse) behind. But I like it like this: rock-jawed, boulder-throated, and frothing wildly at the mouth. It’s not a beach to be folded into brochures. There’s no domestication here.

Balchladich, Assynt, Scotland
22nd February 2014