The Stairway to the Sea
Updated: Jul 20, 2019
The ocean waves pound below, the winds whip above, and my heartbeat pounds in my head. The narrow jutting of land lays in front of me, beckoning me out to the furthest reach of the human trail, where I'll be able to see all the sheer face cliffs and descending waterfall below. Normally, I would be content to know there's a 200 plus foot drop, where a waterfall cascades into the ocean, and a shallow cave to my left, where that booming echo of ocean is composed by the clash of rock and water. Yet, I must go out, I must go out there onto that tiny little parcel of a perch, to see what there is see.
With wobbling legs, I proceed in what can best be described as a low and steady lunge, with one hand near the ground, much like a neanderthal knuckle drag. You know, because, falling off a cliff is not the best way to start our 5 day journey around the Scottish highlands. I have a job as a navigator in these strange lands of left sided road driving and weird signs, and it's very important. The view from my perch does not disappoint. It's highly invigorating, the rush of adrenaline and unbelievable views. Somehow, with iron grip on my phone, I was able to capture a bit of the magic. (Note, this video only does about 10% justice to the beauty of this area).
The Whaligoe steps, just outside of Wick, UK, are 365 stone-laid steps built into the cliff side for fishermen to be able to reach the waters in the mid 18th century. This area is very dramatic, from the texture of the sheer cliffs, where a thousands of birds are tucked into hollows, to the contrast of the cobalt waters, and lime green flora. At the bottom is a platform which once housed a winch for loading the catch from the boats below, or for hauling the boats from the water. Fish were salted and sent off from this treacherous harbor spot as well. I can't imagine trying to land even a dingy in this area, without getting swept up and smashed into the sharp rocks.
As you descend the steps, you can appreciate the time and effort it took to make them, careful fittings and angles to manage an extremely precipitous drop.
It's impossible to describe the feeling at ocean level here. I am compelled to run wildly to the edge of where the waves crash into the cliffs and stand firmly, knowing nothing can sweep me away, as I feel larger than life and firmly rooted. Conversely, the awesome power of nature is in full force here, leaving one feeling like a speck of sand, at the mercy of the wind, rain, and footfalls of Poseidon. We sit silently, no words can describe the beauty here, as we let the chorus of the sea wash over.