322 pages, 8 plates with 14 colour photos
Describes a three-month sea voyage made in the summer of 1996 around the Hebrides. Its aim was not to explore the romantic heritage of the West coast, or simply to write a yachting travelogue, but to look at the major issues peculiar to the islands as the new century dawns-issues of landownership and power, tourism and development, of incomers and natives, of language and identity, and, above all, of the various failed attempts over the centuries to "modernize" the Hebrides.
The trip starts at Lagavullin in Isaly, moving past Colonsay and Oronsay through Iona and the Ross of Mull, past Ulva and Gometra to Tiree, Coll, and the Small Isles. The journey continues past Skye to the Uists and Harris before returning via the islands of Loch Broom, South Rona, Camusfearna, and the Sound of Mull to Islay.
Interwoven with the beauty of the environment, the friendliness of the locals, and the seductive feeling that comes from making long journeys in small boats, is above all, a sense that the islands today are still the playthings of others, intent on enforcing a vision profoundly alien to the lives of the people. It is a vision that has insidiously informed almost all thinking on the Highlands and Islands, from tourism and economic development, to population change and landownership. It is the vision of the Highlands and islands as an unspoilt natural tapestry that must be preserved at all costs from the ravages of humans.
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