Need Supply Co

Antarctica

Antarctica Written for the fab folks at Need Supply Co.

It took journeying to the end of the earth, and a little beyond, to understand what I adored about travel. Surrounded by ice prone to glowing the most improbable shade of blue, penguins with a taste for wellingtons and whales who treated the waters of this snow-covered wonderland as their own private playground, it dawned on me; travel reminds us that, when removed from the reality of the everyday, we are part of something so much bigger. A natural landscape that dwarfs us, not only physically (it’s impossible to even consider notions of ‘big’ and ‘tall’ as you watch a glacier crumble into sea at Mikkelsen Harbour, a surge of water rising away from the point of impact) but mentally. All those worries, stresses and uncertainly, they mean nothing when you spy a landscape such as this.

Antarctica

Perhaps that’s what has always drawn the adventurous to Antarctica. Roald Amundsen and his epic adventure to the South Pole, the noble Scott, and Shackleton who had daring flowing through in his veins. Antarctica’s magic and power has not dissipated. Locations read like otherworldly realms Paradise Bay, Deception Island, Neptune’s Bellows and Elephant Point—calling now not only to the intrepid, but the fantastical too.

Antarctica

What has remained with me all these years later is not the immensity of Lemaire Channel (or Kodak Alley to those more film-inclined), a place where bergs are golden and the sea a mirror, but Pleneau Island — an iceberg graveyard. Here statuesque forms rise from the grey waters (some places just look better in stormy weather), assuming improbable shapes as they’re ravaged by the elements. Having travelled the oceans they arrive here to find there is nowhere left for them to venture. There are other sights too—the National Geographic Explorer making its solitary journey across the expanse or Brown Station, which is red despite the name and reveals how harrowing this great southern continent can be; the last Argentinian scientist who manned it opted to burn the building down rather then face yet another solitary year on the ice.

Antarctica

This is the land of penguins—be they Adelies, who compensate for their lack of grace with sheer determination building ‘penguin highways’ through the snow, Gentoos who have a penchant for stolen pebbles and the most curious of all, the stout Chinstraps. A place where the sun either refuses to set or rise and the sound of breaching whales is carried on the breeze. You feel small, but not insignificant, just acutely aware that this nirvana, this fickle friend, is always there, waiting to remind you of your place in the world.

Antarctica

Antarctica

Antarctica

Antarctica

Antarctica

Antarctica

Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye Here is a suitably Scottish piece written for the lovely folks over at Need Supply Co.

There is a mysticism to Scotland. Sublimely beautiful, it has enticed everyone from ancient kings to the idealistic Romantics. However, to experience true Caledonian charm you must journey to a relatively-small wing-shaped island framed by the deliciously named Little Minch and Sea of the Hebrides.

The Isle of Skye has long called to travellers, its craggy peaks, castles and penchant for mist making it all the more enticing. It bears the marks of Vikings (who were here from 700 AD until 1263) and settlers who had stoicism flowing through their veins. Skye played a starring role in the Jacobite Rebellion, headed by the now mythic Bonnie Prince Charlie who was fighting – unsuccessfully as it would turn out – to return the English crown to the house of Stuart. Aided by local lass Flora MacDonald, he fled to the Isle of Skye dressed as a milk maid. Oh the horrors battle forces one to commit!

Isle of Skye

Today adventure lies just off almost any of the livestock-dotted roads. Above Portree, with is vibrant waterfront houses and cray-pot adorned harbour, is the Old Man of Storr – a rocky pinnacle calling to walkers prepared, more often than not, to be greeted with a spot of rain – in this part of the world though rain does have its appeal; bracing more than anything else. Or there’s the iconic Black Cuillin with its abundance of walking trails and panoramic views. Watch were you trek though as your odds of encountering a seemingly serene herd of Highland cattle are rather high.

Ruins abound – old houses are now nothing more than grassy mounds while some drystone walls that are more moss than anything else. There are the remains of Duntulm Castle, where Bonnie Price Charlie’s spent his first night on the island, and the more intact Dunvegan Castle. The seat of Clan MacLeod, its biggest attraction is not its seal-filled harbour but the Fairy Flag, gifted to a Clan Chief by a fairy queen forced to leave her lover and return to fairy land. Or so the legend goes. Said to give all those who possessed it protection, photographs of it were carried by First World War pilots from the island.

Isle of Skye

From here you can venture north to Claigan where a short amble will lead you to a pink coral beach with turquoise waters, unsurprising when you recall you’re in Scotland. Or head south to The Three Chimneys – one of Skype culinary icons (the others, without a doubt, being Kinloch Lodge and Scorrybreac).

But its not just the food and charm you venture here for. In fact, it’s not even just the wild. It is the blissful sense of calm that envelops the island. The feeling that time here means very little, conversations are savoured and that history is all around. Travel for the sentiment, stay for the wonder.

Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye