… a return to Ard Neakie. There are no ‘Keep Out’ signs nor are there indications of rights of way. We are in the homeland of ‘right to roam’. No signs would have stopped us, I have been hankering to get back here since I wrote the previous Ard Neakie post in mid-March.
It is much as I remember except there is now no trace of the quarry workers’ lodgings. The final approach sits between the shingle, north and south; the Ferry House a design in symmetry; the pier still solid where no boats call; the lime kilns with their cavernous openings sensibly fenced; the convenient limestone quarry, just a wheelbarrow’s walk from the kiln tops; the climb, higher still, such that Portnancon can be seen across the loch – the departure point for the Heilam Ferry.
The skies are clear, the sun intermittently shines but there is a strong Arctic wind blowing in from the north. As we make to leave between the shingle shores, a gust of wind opens the front door to the Ferry House. It seems like an invitation, an invitation that we are too polite to refuse. Alec Mackay has summoned us into his family home:
It is not the sound of the wind we hear blowing through the rafters and ill-fitting windows, it is the sound of distant voices.