You don’t always have to travel to have an adventure! Last week, a few of us trudged for 12-odd miles across the moor between Tolsta and Ness; that after some of the braver souls had already cycled 40-odd miles from Skigersta to Tolsta.
You can cross the moor for fun (if you are that way inclined!), but there was a very specific purpose for crossing it last Saturday; it was to raise funds (and awareness) for Pancreatic Cancer UK. Why that particular charity? Because a friend of ours, Murdo Alex MacRitchie, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year and his sister, cousin and others decided to do their bit to support PCUK. It was a privilege to be involved.
The moor between Ness and Tolsta is undoubtedly pretty bleak (it is a moor, after all!), but there are a few points where your breath is well and truly taken away. Tolsta is well known for its beautiful beaches, and the views back down the coast after climbing for a bit are absolutely stunning. At first, you see Garry Beach; then, the even more majestic Tràigh Mhòr appears beyond the headland. The sun was out, the sea was glittering and the view was world-class.
After a few more miles of dodging bogs (well, we dodged the bogs for the first while then just gave up and ploughed right through them!) and climbing hills, we approached Taigh ‘an Fiosaich, an abandoned church perched right on the edge of the cliffs. The colour of the water beneath the church was like something from the Caribbean – yet another reminder that our own little island is a spectacular place. Iain MacRitchie (Murdo Alex’s brother) led a Christian worship service in the shell of the church; a beautiful touch in such a place, and so appropriate given the way Murdo Alex’s own faith has shone through during his illness.
Then we were off again for the final push, with the wonderful sheilings close to hand. I love these little moor houses, made even more special by the fact that the good folk of Ness still use them regularly. We were greeted there by the unexpected sound of the bagpipes, as if we were returning conquerors being celebrated at the gates of some ancient city! Even more welcome than the bagpipes, however, was typically outstanding Lewis baking for a sugar boost to see us across the finish line!
The track from the sheilings to the village of Skigersta was welcome relief after the challenging terrain of the moor, and (for perhaps the first time in history) a man from Point was delighted to see the houses of Ness in the distance! We heaved our aching limbs into Skigersta and onto a minibus, to be transported for a glorious meal prepared by yet more supportive Niseachs.
The walk across the moor isn’t for the fainthearted and is definitely a walk to undertake when the weather is pleasant; but neither is it a walk exclusively for fitness fanatics – my taking part is proof of that! Give it a go if you’re in Lewis!
Pancreatic Cancer UK is better off for the fundraising efforts of Kathleen, Willie and everyone else, and hopefully this will go some way to helping the battle against that horrible disease. We are all better off for Murdo Alex’s witness and testimony, even in the midst of a brutal battle. Doing the Skig2Skig challenge is the least we can do.
You can follow Murdo Alex’s account of his experiences here.
You can donate to Skig2Skig here.