Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday Exposure: Neist Point Lighthouse

Abandoned, but not alone.

Every evening the lighthouse, on Skye's westernmost point, greets the sunset. It clings to the clifftop, straining toward the sea. Razorbills and guillemots nestle in the cliffs, sheep graze on the gusty summit. Out at sea, a minke whale rises for air.

So it has been for more than 100 years.

Automation has stripped the lighthouse of its keeper. The cottages are deserted, but not barren. Signs of past habitation -- torn bedsheets, three mugs on the table, jacket hanging on a peg, sunglasses on the counter top -- show the memory of manual operation. In some windows, only shards of glass remain. Wind and rain have soiled the carpets; wallpaper curls.

Few boats are guided by its light. Nowadays, it lures landlubbers. Brisk hikers eager to reach the point and then retreat. Teenagers holding clandestine midnight parties. Lovers meet in a secluded rendezvous. Poets ramble for a morning of isolated inspiration.

Abandoned, but not alone.

Neist Point Lighthouse on the Isle of Skye.