So that was Sadie just a minute or two before the Faeries lured her into their evil trap and tried to drown her.
I hate Faeries. Faeries are asshats.
We’ve been in Skye for almost a week now. Stuff has happened. We climbed a mountain. I ran about a bit. There was a boat trip with sea eagles, and a coral beach with seals. There was the disturbing moment in the filling station, but I don’t want to talk about that. That was a wrong thing. I mean, everybody could hear it. That was disturbing enough. But nobody reacted. Not a single customer. We all just waited in silence, pretending it wasn’t happening.
Really. I’m not ready to talk about that. I may never be ready.
Towards the south of the island, near Glenbrittle, there’s a wide, smooth glacial basin at the base of the Black Cuillan mountains. A river runs through it, and over time various pools have formed, several of them big enough to bathe or swim in. They look incredibly inviting, but I can tell you from recent experience that they’re bastard cold.
Very bastard cold.
We didn’t get far along the river, because of the Faeries and the drowning. In fact you can see how far we got above. A little further along from where Sadie is standing you can see where the river is narrowed off by some rocks. The water looks a little faster there, sure, but nothing to worry about, right?
Wrong. Because faerie asshats. Here’s a closer look.
At the top the river is wide and shallow. At the bottom it is also wide and shallow. What you can’t see is all the water from the top wide shallow bit finding a ridiculous amount of energy and charging through the narrow channel that has been carved through the rock over however many thousands of years. It smashes around in there, drops off a small waterfall, creates a ridiculously deep plunge pool, then bounces back out along another channel and relaxes again.
The Asshats live in that plunge pool, and they kill Labradors. Babies too, probably, though I didn’t see any while I was in there.
Sadie is not a puppy who gives things a great deal of thought, especially when they involve water. Water is for being in. It has not other purpose. When we took her off the lead at the top of the ridge overlooking the upper pool, we were only surprised when she turned up in the water because she got down there so fast. She splashed. She wagged. She made for the rocks.
We didn’t at that point know what was in that channel, and sort of expected her to turn up in the bottom pool without much coaxing. That didn’t happen. I scrambled down the ridge to have a look, and couldn’t see her. I jumped over the channel, looked back, and there she was. She’d managed to get herself swept over the little waterfall, straight into the plunge pool, and was desperately trying to stay on the surface. The waterfall wouldn’t let her. She was swimming straight up to stay where she was, but the descending water kept pushing her under. Deep under, so that I couldn’t see her. Every time it happened there were a heartbreaking few seconds where I didn’t know if she was coming back up. That was frightening.
There was no way of reaching her from where I was, not with her being pushed (or pulled) under. I didn’t want to jump into the plunge pool itself, for fear of getting pushed (or pulled) under myself. Instead I jumped into the channel. I couldn’t feel the bottom, but was able to wedge myself between the rocks with my legs and shoulders.
Very bastard cold, like I said, and the water was fast and angry. Sadie saw me, having not heard me approach over the crash of the water. Her eyes went wide and her paddling got more frantic, and then she was pulled under again. I waited for what felt like a really long time, but she fought her way back up and I was able to lean out and snatch her harness. That’s where my plan unravelled. While I was able to pull her out from under the waterfall, so stopping her from being pulled under again, the rocks around us were steep, and there was no way I could get her out of the water and over my head onto the rocks. Her own panic made it worse, and she kept trying to swim back to where she’d gone in, probably hoping that was how to get back out, so was trying to get back under the waterfall which was trying to drown her.
Luckily, American Celtmen.
Seriously. American Celtmen.
The Celtman is an endurance triathlon held in Wester Ross back on on the mainland. Entrants swim 3.8 km across a loch, bike 202 km, then finish off with a quick marathon across two of the Munro mountains. If you happen to find yourself stuck in a miniature ravine trying to save a drowning Labrador then two Celtman finishers rushing to your assistance is something you would be very pleased to see.
I didn’t actually see them, you understand. I was stuck under and between rocks. Kirsty saw them from her vantage point atop the ridge, and they apparently bounded to my aid in exactly the fashion you would expect of top athletes. I was aware of them only when one reached down to where I was keeping Sadie back from the waterfall, snatched her harness, and hauled her one- handed from the water.
Cool, I thought. Sadie can fly. Why couldn’t she have done that five minutes ago?
With Sadie free, I hauled myself back up onto the rocks. Thinking back over it, everything seems to have happened quite quickly. I must be forgetting stuff though. I have a bashed up hip for some reason, and my shoulders have stiffened up a ridiculous amount. Also, I was properly exhausted.
Anyway, thanks to American Celtmen I still have a dog. I didn’t get their names, alas. They bounded off into the distance while I was still getting my breath, leaping Black Cuillans as they went. If either were you, thanks so much for an excellent intervention.
I mean, sure, five minutes earlier would have been nice…
When you come to Skye everybody warns you about the midges and the ticks. Nobody says a thing about the Faeries.
But Faeries are asshats. Consider yourself warned.