It is a late Sunday afternoon. The sun is low and fading, but the day holds the promise of spring. We tracked Figgate burn upstream from it’s final spill into the Forth. It glittered alongside us, disappearing underground, beneath roads and railway bridges, to resurface, leading us to the foot of Figgate Park. It pooled into a reservoir with, at it’s centre, a pond where otters sometimes play and children feed ducks breadcrumbs from their fingertips.
This is a story of gales and sea, of shipwrecks and mountains of sand: a true Wild Soul Walk. It began with a glimpse and a promise of wild water from the window of a bus.
We arrived in Gullane, a small town in East Lothian, on a blustery March afternoon in search of another beach. We consulted our maps, and headed seaward, leaving the gastro-pub and vintage tea shop behind, meandering through lanes lined with early blossom and birdsong, and past a green spotted with blackbirds and magpies.
I first began to walk in nature when I couldn’t. When I could only lie in brief snatches on my sofa and peer at the world outside through the window. Where the horse chestnut tree grew leaves and lost them, when it’s rose-pink blossom bloomed and fell. I would dream of the breeze on my skin, imagine the feel of the ground under my feet. Then, exhausted, I would to return to bed.
I could still smell bonfires in my hair.
The night before was Hogmanay, and we had trudged along the pitch of the shore drawn to lighted fires. Following music and song, we huddled around a bonfire amongst locals dancing on the sand. “We are locals too now,” my partner said. It was my first New Year’s Eve in Scotland since the millennium. The bells chimed midnight, and the tankers boomed in the Forth, lit up and sounding their horns to see in the New Year. I was so happy that I cried.
We arrived under the half-closed eye of the moon. “Let’s go down to the sea!” I said.
We trundled our suitcases to the bottom of our street and to the edge of the shore. The midnight wind whipped our skin, and the waves crashed in the dark beyond our sight. We stood and breathed in the tang of sea air. We were home.