The cliffs are above me, the slope below. The rusty-black columns of rock spin above me as I look up at them. The air is colder here, as if the rock gives off a chill. At the roots of the cliffs, the scree is bare, the grass reluctant to grow in their shadow.

I try to look ahead, to watch the loops of the road as it follows the base of the cliffs, but those cliffs keep drawing my eye. I find myself checking the flat steps where the columns have broken, wondering if I could climb up. It’s madness – a fall would be death. But I keep looking.

Below me, it’s a fresh morning, and outside the damp shadow of the rock, the early sun has lit up the seascape like stained glass. The cry of the gulls is softened by distance, and the wind smells sweet and wild. The islands are vivid, not blank silhouettes today, but sharply defined, with slopes and valleys and flat swards picked out in shades of blue. The clouds are like snow.

But nothing is as bright as the sky above the cliffs, and nothing can hold my eyes as long as that rim of light. My head is dizzy from staring up at it. Is it just because I can’t get there? Perhaps. Or perhaps it’s just the dark massiveness of the cliffs themselves, which baffles my eyes as it fascinates my mind. But the longer I walk, the more I fear that I might just lose my head and start climbing.



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