Scotland glimpses eclipse through the clouds with quiet reverence

THERE was no fuss. The Western Isles don’t do fuss. Despite the fact that yesterday’s annular solar eclipse comes round only once every 90 years, the Isle of Lewis was not in festival mood.

Four out of five island residents questioned said they were in their beds when the moon passed in front of the sun. It was all a contrast to the hype of a total eclipse in Cornwall four years ago. Then
commentators predicted the county might sink under the weight of millions of people there to see it.

Yesterday was very different. The astronomer Sir Patrick Moore and Queen guitarist Brian May led a small band of eclipse watchers who travelled to the north of Scotland, Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles, the Faroes and Reykjavik to see the event.

Crazy Horse

Shelley’s poem Ozymandias tells of the wreck of a huge rock sculpture which stands in the desert above the inscription: ”Look on my works ye mighty and despair.” ”Nothing beside remains,” the poet tells us. ”Boundless and bare the lone and level sands stretch far away.”

A thousand years from now, when the US empire has crumbled into dust and climate change has cleared beef cattle and farmers from the western prairie, it is possible to imagine that tourists will travel across the sand to visit the mountains of South Dakota and marvel at the massive monuments of a bygone civilisation.

Why this treehouse beats Disneyland. Holidays in Lismore

WE are walking back from the island’s only shop at a pace that would disgrace a snail. But it doesn’t matter – supper is at least three hours away, and that’s the only other thing we have planned for today. On the verge, which stands 15ft above the single-track road, we can just glimpse the top of a caramel-coloured head amid the long grass. Reuben –
who, at six, is the eldest of the eight children in our party – is commando-crawling back to the cottage.

Every now and then he stops, disappears and doubles back on himself, reappearing behind a tree further down the track. If one of the others catches sight of him, a
lengthy gun battle ensues, involving pointed index fingers and amazingly realistic sound effects. This is a Scottish holiday very much as it would have been 50 years ago, when the Broons left their tenement in Glebe Street for a two-room but and ben in an anonymous glen.