Tìr mo Rùin – Off the Pentland Road

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The Pentland Road traverses Lewis running east to west, from Stornoway to Carloway, and neatly bisects the core of the peatlands allowing access to one of the most unique natural environments in Northern Europe.

From the road the moorland looks rugged, wild and impenetrable. The leviathan blanket bog that covers most of Northern Lewis breathes slowly but deeply, a slumbering carbon sink, rapacious and with an unending appetite for the spagnum moss that it eventually transmutes to peat.

Despite the beauty of the pastel shaded hills in the distance the casual observer might comment that it is a somewhat featureless landscape. Not so.

However, it is most definitely landscape that you need to learn how to read before you can accurately describe it. Not a landscape to step uninvited into. You most definitely need a guide here.

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Above: Tìr mo Rùin artists Anne Campbell (left) and Deirdre Nelson.

Thankfully, fellow Tìr mo Rùin artist Anne Campbell is such a person. The peatlands (and the love and respect for them) are absolutely born and bred in her bones.

The blanket bog reveals its splendour slowly. At first glance looking at any detail in the landscape is akin to deciphering complex abstract canvases or perhaps the convoluted symbology laden works of early Netherlandish painters. A tangle and weave of colour, strand and form that the brain translates as tussock, mound, stream and pool. Simply studying a square metre of the environment here would take some considerable time.

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Above: Bog Asphodel

Moving through the landscape itself presents an equal set of challenges and the use of different sets of muscles than the norm. Add to that the ubiquitous clegg and the threat of the omnipresent  midge and you have a potentially distracting sensory overload at hand.

To be guided then by those who are absolutely at ease here sets one at ease too, provides the time and space necessary to concentrate and appreciate the easily overlooked natural jewels and marvels that pepper and stud this vibrant moss cloaked landscape.

I look forward to learning and exploring more.

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