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Published: 4 Mar 2022

Wild Moment: Winky O’Neale

Winky O'Neale was a mountain guide in the Cuillin for more than 15 years, running and organising her own courses. Her poem pays homage to the 'sinuous, powerful' Cuillin Ridge on Skye.

"My poem about the Cuillin Ridge was written to express my passion and respect for those incredible, special peaks that make up the Ridge. I am 'retired' as a guide now, it was time to pull back. I wrote it maybe five years ago as homage. Best mountain memories of my life. Intense, elemental, exciting and fun. Not to mention connecting with many great folk."

Cuillin Ridge

Up at last, a rest, a drink,
Dare to look ahead.
The sinuous, powerful Ridge that curves
Like a stretched bow.
View and draw breath from Gars-bheinn
Under your feet
To Sgurr nan Gillean and Sgurr na h-Uamha 
Between an intensity of peaks.
Respect and anticipation, tread carefully, always.

The Cuillin Ridge, deep inside a soaking mist, 
Rock slick and gleaming, water driven upwards
By roar and whip crack of the wind.
Ride the Ridge like a great dark horse,
Fingers tangled in the mane,
Balanced on the spine,
Feeling your way, subtle, careful
Guided by shapes,
Reading your way, seek calm out of
Such elemental turmoil.

Later on the Coire floor
Out of the intense dripping world
One like no other;
A secret smile of privilege
Your companion down towards
The silver glint, on a sea
Of a western horizon.

©  Winky O’Neale

Red rock - David Lintern

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