The Sanctuary of Applecross

There’s a tide licked bay which looks West towards the Hebrides. Filled with pink sand , and cupped in the hands of the high mountains. It’s soft warm breezes blow thousands of miles across open ocean, from the Caribbean, before whispering their tales through these trees. People have lived here since the mist first lifted away from the sea. Wave after wave have ‘discovered’ its gentle peace, and the Celtic monks named it Sanctuary, for six miles in all directions. Recently this beautifully carved sign has been placed to mark the Holy Well, which runs as fresh and sweet as ever.

The water springs, beneath dappled shade, from a tiny moss clothed arch in the hill. It tumbles full of laughter down towards the sea, through a sugar sprinkling of wild flowers. Passing beneath the single track road it spills back into the light and onto the salty shore through an ancient stone structure. Well worn steps have carried pilgrims feet thrice down and across the waters perhaps for a thousand years. The old iron hoop which held the chained drinking cup is still embedded in the stone, but the vessel itself is long gone. Now you need to take your three sips from your own cupped hands, but the water tastes as good and clear as it ever did. And remember to leave a blessing, a flower, a shell, or crystal or silver, in thanks of natures healing bounty.

If you follow the hillside path back towards Shore Road and its cluster of houses, you’ll pass another newly carved sign. Part of the seat of a stone built bench, this is a beautiful piece of local history in poetry. It is carved in Gaelic too, the language in which it was written, and it flows more beautifully in its mother tongue, but for the sake of the wider world I’m posting the English version. Written by a MacKenzie ancestor.

If you look behind and above you, while you rest in the hollow of the sanctuary, you will see the tall limbed trees reaching ever sunwards. Their slender trunks shimmering silver white against an achingly blue sky, like soft arms thrown heavenward in prayer. And the sky answered their prayers with vibrant green clothes, newly spun in spring. The ocean travelled breeze comes to rest, whispering through these delicate leaves, held cathedral high above our heads. It soothes and softens our bodies as we rest, hidden in the hollow, away from the demands of the world. Only the sky and the sea call for attention here among the silver trees. Rest for a while with me and just breathe, letting go of all the thoughts, coming back into the nature of your soft body among the trees.

Deep peace of the soft green earth to you,
Deep peace of the strong limbed trees to you,
Deep peace of the holy well to you,
Deep peace of the sun warmed breeze to you
Here in the hollow of the sanctuary, on the western edge of the earth.


You can see lots more posts about signs at the Weekly Photo Challenge: The Sign Says.

About greenmackenzie

Hi, I'm Seonaid, and I share my home on the shores of Loch Ness deep in the Scottish Highlands with my husband, my son and a couple of dogs. I love art which is here now and gone food and nature...but also have a passion for vintage and the ancient past! Nature is my favourite muse, with her wild ever shifting seasons. I have been using and teaching mindfulness and relaxation for over 12 years, and have yet to become any sort of expert :-) I'm a Psychotherapist and Cancer Support Specialist in Maggies Highlands
This entry was posted in ancient history, ancient sites, Celtic, celtic prayer, green walks, history, mindfulness, nature photo, photos, poem, spiritual, travel, weekly photo challenge and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to The Sanctuary of Applecross

  1. This is so truly beautiful! I’m so glad that I found your blog and can breathe deeply reading it.

  2. Uncle Tree says:

    Avalon never looked better! Great shots and kind words, Seonaid! ๐Ÿ™‚ Peace, Uncle Tree

  3. that looks like a place i would feel very much at home in. lovely. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Stephanie says:

    Green! I tried to send you an email to let you know I’ll be in the neighborhood next week ๐Ÿ™‚

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  6. ladyfi says:

    Oh, I can feel the peace seeping through and love the glorious contrast of bright colours.

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  8. dorysworld says:

    Just beautiful ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Lynne Ayers says:

    I DO love your narrative. Great post.

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  13. Beautiful words, beautiful pictures, beautiful ancient sites… this felt more like a prose poem to me. I enjoyed reading it very much. Thank you.

  14. twoscamps says:

    Your ancestors speak to you. The photos of the trees are stunning. I enjoyed this post immensely.

    • Oh I hope they do, especially the bardic ones ๐Ÿ™‚ What an encouraging comment, and I could look at those tree shots for hours myself, thanks for letting me know you enjoyed the post.

  15. You have made me look at Applecross in a new way. A lovely spot to just *be*

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  17. wisejourney says:

    Your achingly blue sky is just that.

    • Indeed, and seeing it contrasted with those lime green leaves really makes it feel even more green than it looked from the rest of the bay! There is something wonderful about the sky and the light up here in northern Scotland ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. adinparadise says:

    Your soothing words and beautiful photos are balm to the soul, Seonaid. Stunning post as always. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • That’s such a lovely comment, and I’m delighted to think of my post as a balm to the soul. That makes all this blogging so worthwhile just to read a comment like this ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Fabulous – just back home and now you have me itching to go back (not that I need any encouragement :-))

    • Thank you, and that’s a great compliment coming from someone who knows Applecross so well. We had our obligatory fish and chips at the Applecross Inn and it was as deliciously fresh as ever, straight from the waves to our plate ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Stephanie says:

    I love this post sooooooo much. By the time I got to the tree vista I found myself breathing out much of the locked-up tension of the week. Thank you!

    • My pleasure Stephanie, and I’m delighted to hear that Applecross worked its magic all the way back across the ocean. It’s great to release that locked up tension isn’t it ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. frizztext says:

    “…Itโ€™s soft warm breezes
    blow thousands of miles across open ocean,
    from the Caribbean,
    before whispering their tales
    through these trees…”
    = words, better than photos ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thank you, it must be the old bard stirring in my blood ๐Ÿ™‚
      I am mesmerised by the trees in this place, and find myself drawn back to the photos again and again.

  22. I love the shot looking up to the trees.

  23. Suzanne says:

    What a fascinating response to the signs challenge. What a beautiful holy well and that grove of trees looks magical. I love the way you photograph and write about Scotland. I would love to go this western bay you write of.

    • It’s a really soothing place, and the light changes really dramatically because of the huge tidal bay…..there’s always something new. We try to visit each time we head north to Plockton ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. Liana says:

    I will return to this place and your gentle words in my mind again and again…thank you for opening the window and letting it into the Ethernet so I could have it here.

  25. Paula says:

    These sights melt my heart ๐Ÿ™‚ I would like to go to your western edge of the earth ๐Ÿ™‚

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