The island lies off the north west coast of Sutherland, in
Highlands. Once a burial island and then home to crofters and fishermen,
it now has no permanent human population. The island is famed for its
dramatic Torridonian sandstone cliffs. Towering over the Atlantic, the cliffs
provide high rise homes to the tens of thousands of seabirds that come here
each year to breed. In the summer months, basking sharks, minke whales,
and dolphins cruise the waters.
Many of the island’s seabirds return year after year to breed
same place on the cliffs as the year before. Puffin colonies nest
together in burrows at the top of the cliffs. Razorbills breed between
rocks and boulders and in crevices. Oystercatchers breed on the open
coast while guillemots in their thousands nest on cliff ledges, fulmars
and kittiwakes nearby. Great skuas dominate the moorland in the centre
of the island, divebombing anyone who strays too close.
Rats are excellent swimmers and are known to island-hop to
destination using smaller islets as stopping points along the way. Rats
are highly social animals and the first thing any rat does on arriving at
the island, is seek out any other rats in the vicinity. Rats will eat any eggs
they find and have been known to decimate entire bird colonies on islands
and so each year, a working party goes to the island to lay down traps to
keep the population under control.
His lifejacket gave no comfort as it chafed against his chin. All it did was reinforce the idea that there was a chance he could end up in the water, and if that happened, lifejacket or no lifejacket, he’d be sucked under in a second, the roiling, briny soup filling his lungs.
A ray of sunshine broke through a chink in the clouds and for a few glorious minutes turned a sliver of beach from muted shades of grey to golden yellow. She pulled off her jacket in celebration of the moment, and had a mad desire to strip off and run naked through the dunes.
Her stomach churned at the thought of
being alone with him, but what could she
do? He hadn’t broken any rules, hadn't touched her, hadn’t said anything inappropriate, at least nothing she could pin down. There wasn’t anything she could actually accuse him of, and yet…
She didn’t believe in all that supernatural
twaddle. There were no such things as
ghosts, and yet she couldn’t help but feel
a little spooked. A little nervy. A little
terrified – out here – by herself – with
nothing but the whine and wail of the
wind for company.