Family Postcards, Writing

POSTCARD – St Ninian’s Cave

Over the years we have travelled Scotland extensively, as much as anyone can with small children. On our visits we have found some wonderful places, all with their different historical narratives and surrounded by wild natural beauty. I have to say that we have been tested over the years and my middle daughter’s health was at the time a concern as she struggled with chronic asthma. Living in a town built by the steel industry really can add to the condition so, we had chosen a holiday to clearer air in the west coast of Scotland.

On a blustery day we had set off for  drive, we had collected a few brochures from the holiday house and headed off around to a local village to find the nearest beach. Often this is easier said than done, the port of which was seemingly inaccessible so we carried further down the long farm roads until we came to a cross roads. Ahead was a sign post for a cave, not wanting to miss an opportunity we found ourselves sat in the carpark, markers set for a few miles walk.

The day still dull, I placed my daughter into her harness and after collecting our waterproofs we set off down the field track. It is not often that a place can take your breath away but the rough track lead to a beautiful forest walk, ferns and woodland flowers adorned the paths and the smell of the sea drew in the closer we plunged into brow of the hill.

As we reached the beach it was full of cobble stones, dotted with shells and semi-precious stones which lay as far as the eye could see. The sky was dark and brooding as we arrived, however the marker directing us to the cave was clear in the distance. It was as I said a place of historical interest, the first Christian pilgrim to establish a place of worship on the west coast and was marked by a large timber cross at the centre of the cave.

The cave itself was relatively small, but as my family drew their names on the stones and added them to those already placed by other visitors, it became a place that will hold in my heart. Whether it is just to see the beauty of the beach or the deep rolling waters, on your own pilgrimage or to enjoy pottering through a beach steeped in history, the walk is one that holds your attention.

After a family photo, we turned our focus to the pebble beach, the sky beginning to clear we began to search for treasure, together we collected a selection of stones including some white and rose quartz. I am drawn to taking a stone from the places which impact or set markers in my life, my daughter spent a good hour on this dull, damp day without once needing her inhaler. The sea air filling her lungs, I would like to think that this along with allowing her to experience her asthma (medication ready!) was the first step to my family breathing again, after the deep impact of her illness.

Today winter still can impact on my daughters health, but I am thankful she was strong enough to make it through and proud of myself for standing aside and letting her be as independent as possible despite her condition. Whatever your religious beliefs, the sublime beauty of nature truly holds a power all of its own.

Happy Holidays!


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