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‘I parked my car, leaving a note on the dashboard saying I was going to be gone overnight, threw on my rucksack and set off for my favourite cave on the island for 36 hours of fasting and some much needed quiet time and reconnection with nature.
On route to the cave a sea eagle took off from some trees and flew out across the bay. The seagulls and hoodies mobbed it and alarm called as it went. There is a down side to being king of the skies, you are forever mobbed and harassed by a number of smaller birds.
I arrived at my cave and dropped my bag. Then went out again to explore. In the cave next door I found a new born wild goat kid, that presumably had been left there to shelter whilst mum went to graze. I took a photograph and left it in peace. I spotted a group of nanny goats above the cave foraging. A pair of golden eagles soared out from the cliff tops overhead and were attacked by the resident kestrels. Kek, kek, kek…the high pitched and familiar alarm call of the kestrels rang out in the relative silence as they swooped on the eagles.
The waves crashing on the reef behind me was the only other noise to be heard. I collected some drift wood for a camp fire to entertain me during the long night ahead and carried it back to my cave. I sat in front of my fire, back to the cave wall, searching out to sea for any fins, always dreaming of seeing ‘The Boys’ – the last remaining resident Orca, John Coe and Aquarius. Although I didn’t see them, I did later return home to learn they had been seen off the north tip of Skye, so I maybe helped manifest the first sighting in months.
I did see other lovely sights though. A winter plumage great northern diver fished the shallows just beyond the reef. A lone gannet was also diving down close by. Seals bobbed around in the waves a little further out. Wild goats passed by on the shore with tiny babies in tow, and a charm of goldfinches flew into a tree at the cave mouth and entertained my for a while with flashes of colour in the largely dull and yet dramatic landscape.
I was fasting, going without any food for 36 hours for healing purposes. It’s amazing how the body can heal when you give it some quiet time to do just that. I was not struggling with hunger and finding it so much easier to fast when not surrounded with food and other folk eating.
A fellow troglodyte came to join me in the cave. A little Jenny Wren, who’s Latin name is Troglodytes troglodytes, meaning, cave dweller, as they often build their nests in caves or other well sheltered overhangs. It hopped around nearby, a little put out perhaps by its cave being occupied. It soon flew off singing as it went. Maybe just wishing me a good night.
The full moon rose offering the most magical moonlit land and seascape and it following the arc of the cave perfectly until I fell asleep overflowing with gratitude. I woke up to the most stunning scene as the sun rose over the island of Scarba. There are no words to describe that beauty, so I won’t even try.
The cave next to me was full of sheltering goats, several with new born kids, including twins, that had just been born and were still bloody and soggy. There were a few big billy goats with the nannies too, including the biggest billy I have ever seen, with the most impressive set of horns to match.
I am at my most happy and peaceful when alone in nature. This trip was something special. I will be offering this kind of experience, with or without food, in my upcoming Mullman tours. Big love to all.’
- Outdoors columnist Daniel Brooks is a wildlife guide, adventure seeker, conservation campaigner, forager, bushcrafter, rewilder and father of four. His website mullman.co.uk is coming soon.
Capion: Daniel Brooks lights a fire, getting closer to nature living in a cave