We began celebrating Solstice quite some few years ago and while on Rum it became a real turning point of the year when we lived so close to nature and were so dependent on natural daylight. Our days were so dictated to by what was happening outside be it weather or hours of day and night time, as were those of our animals and our crops.
After attending the amazing Burning the Clocks celebration in Brighton back in the early 2000s we have followed the tradition of lighting up the longest night with fire and celebrated the rising of the sun for the following day when it stays in the sky that tiny bit longer than the day before.
I know that solstice can move about to a day either side of 21st December, in the same way as summer solstice can do in June but we have tended to stick to that date. Two years ago we were in Glastonbury for Solstice which was a magical place to sit around a bonfire with dear friends and talk about the year gone by and dreams for the year ahead. Last year we were back on Rum for a bonfire.
This year we are a family of five as Davies’ partner Megan has joined us from America to celebrate a month’s worth of special times including Solstice, Christmas and New Year which also happens to be Davies and Megan’s anniversary.
To mark a mainland Solstice and our increased number we decided to do something special this year so took advantage of it also being the 30th anniversary celebrations of the Nevis Range centre on Ben Nevis meaning they were offering gondola passes at the same price as back in 1989 when they opened.
This meant that after a solstice morning swim for me we headed off to the foot of Nevis and took a cable car ride part way up the mountain. As we climbed higher and the ground below us began to be snowy and the view spread out it was a truly magical experience. We’ve been up a couple of times and it’s always special but this was really wonderful.
The snow was not too deep – although in characteristic fashion we deviated from the proper path and found ourselves wandering in sometimes really quite deep and often rather perilous places with at least two of us getting wet feet as a leg disappeared down a hole! We walked to a viewing point offering splendid panoramic views of snow capped mountains all around, lochs far below reflecting the pink of the sun set skies and nature truly dwarfing man. We’d taken flasks of hot chocolate to enjoy and toast the shortest day with.
Someone was blowing giant bubbles off the balcony of the centre at the top, which drifted magically by, sometimes bouncing off the snow before taking off again.
Back at home, night fell, the clock struck midnight and we took our solstice candle block cut from last year’s yule log on Rum and lit the candles on our decking. We all had a sparkler to fully light up the night and said what we were grateful to nature for. Then we stood while the breeze blew the candles out. The final flame lasted quite some while, almost going out several times and then reigniting before a gust of wind finally extinguished it.
Later that morning, once the sun had risen again I had another swim in the loch, this time with friends. Mountains, lochs, stars, sun rises and sun sets – we felt we continued our tight connection to nature as we marked the shortest day, the longest night and the turning of yet another season.