As the wind cannoned about her, whipping up a cocktail of salt air and seagulls’ cries, the woman began to wonder if her wedgewood blue coat would endure the valley’s tempestuous welcome. Picking her way through the ditches in the winding road, she descended towards the horizon.
Against the backdrop of the western hills, a regiment of wild gorse lined her approach. Mesmerized by its yellow berets gleaming in the spotlight of the spring sun, she became defenseless to its armoured branches swaying in salute to the wind’s commands. With military precision, one branch swiped out and claimed a piece of her prized coat with a vitriolic bow. The wind tossed her objections into the air for the entertainment of the seagulls and amidst the swirls of their mocking shrieks, she battled on until the road disappeared into the sea. She stopped and looked on in amazement. The wind, pleased with her silent tribute to the valley, changed tactics and gently buffeted her towards the road’s final corner.
Mesmorised by the trick of the horizon, the woman obeyed the wind’s command and continued down the road to discover that the corner twisted out into a secluded horseshoe cove nestled against a tail of rocks. She held her breath; this place was more than a tourist keepsake. Surely this was the place where the secrets of the Celtic gods were buried, the rolling mists its shield, the sunrise and sunset its daily sentinels. She shivered as the mist enveloped her. Seeing her apprehension, the wind encouraged the waves to wash the pebbled beach and welcome their guest with quiet applause.
Gently sliding on the fingers of seaweed that stretched across the pebbled beach, she walked until she was bathed in the shadow of a fisherman’s cottage, enthroned on a bed of rock-pools. With a deft courtesy, she clambered up and began to explore the cobweb of coastal paths and sheep trails sheltering in the inlands hills that lay behind the cottage.
High above the smugglers’ caves that framed the shore, the sunset was beginning its promenade. With cheeks aflame from the wind’s caresses, she made her way back to the winding road, pausing to pick up a pebble which she placed in her coat pocket.
As she walked back up the road, the sea and skyline faded into a ghostly horizon as the gorse and seagulls returned for duty. A sense of renewal caused her to glance back. What were they protecting? The answer lay deep in her pockets for the pebble belonged to a time when the cove was born from Africa and America colliding under Venus’ moon. In a world where differences divide, this cove had lessons to teach. Who were its teachers? The wind sighed – the woman was a good choice.
Niarbyl, Isle of Man
Niarbyl Bay, looking south. Image courtesy of Manx National Heritage 1994-0255/16