So Algy crossed the great sea loch and headed into the west. He flew for several hours until at last he saw the sight he had been waiting for – the misty islands of the Hebrides, floating in their silvery sea. He was so happy to see his islands again that he stopped to rest and gaze at them. There was no need to hurry any more; he knew that he was more or less home.

Algy spent a peaceful night roosting in the beautiful beech tree, soothed by the soporific sound of the constant murmur of water over its rocky bed. When he woke the next morning, the burn was still flowing onwards past his perch, making its way steadfastlly down to the great sea loch. Although the woods were lovely in their summer greenery, Algy knew that it was time for him to do the same: it was time for him to return to his little grey home in the west…

It was so peaceful by the burn in the woodland that Algy was reluctant to move on. So he found himself a comfortable perch on a large, mossy branch overhanging the water, leaned his back firmly against the massive tree trunk, and started to sing to himself (and to anyone else who might be listening):

          Orpheus with his lute made trees,
          And the mountain tops that freeze,
          Bow themselves when he did sing:
          To his music plants and flowers
          Ever sprung; as sun and showers
          There had made a lasting spring.

[Algy is singing the first part of a song by William Shakespeare from his play Henry VIII, Act III, Scene 1.]

On the next morning, Algy intended to cross the great sea loch and continue his journey home, but as he was flying towards its shores he noticed a beautiful area of woodland which he hadn’t visited before, so he decided to investigate it while he had the chance. The woods contained an attractive mixture of deciduous trees and conifers, with many mosses and ferns beneath. A lively burn was tumbling down the hillside towards the loch, so Algy paused for a while to watch it twinkling over its rocky bed in the dappled light filtering through the summer canopy.

So Algy turned to the north, and flew slowly back up towards the head of the great sea loch. The mist was coming down and the light was failing, so he felt that it would be prudent to stop for the night. Turning inland very slightly, he soon found himself at the foot of the most famous glen in all of Scotland, the great Glen of Weeping. There was no weeping now, of course, but somehow it still had a mournful air about it, and Algy always felt slightly ill at ease when he passed through this place. In the true spirit of the glen, he found himself a perch in a dark, prickly hawthorn bush which overlooked the isles of the dead. He took particular care to conceal himself from the well-worn path which ran behind the bush, just in case there were any stray landscape photographers about who might resent the presence of a fluffy bird among the grandeur of such scenery. As Algy gazed up the glen towards the higher peaks, which were currently shrouded in summer mists rather than winter snow, he remembered a poem by Sheena Blackhalll. Massacres are fortunately out of fashion in Scotland nowadays, but these mountains still care “not a whit” for the fate of mortals, and each year there are some who climb these slopes, never to return to the land of the living:

          Mountains, snow-swept mountains of Arctic grandeur
          Where no sweet bird finds rest in Winter’s thrall
          Your streams should run with blood for a thousand aeons
          You watched and did not hinder Clan Donald’s fall

          Glenlyon’s Argyll men, to the glen came trekking
          Like red-backed hounds to seek MacIain’s lair
          Where were your blizzards then, that could have saved him?
          Your corries turned a hiding place to a bier

          Buachaille Etive Mor of the Glen of Weeping
          Were you deaf to your dying children’s cries?
          Why could you not have blocked the Devil’s staircase
          Or opened the Sgur-mam-Fiann where Fingal lies?

          Mountains, snow swept mountains of Arctic grandeur
          Where ghostly wraiths of the murdered families flit
          The wail of the caoineag still keens out a warning
          You care for the fate of mortals not a whit.

[Algy is quoting the poem Glencoe Ghosts by the contemporary Scottish poet Sheena Blackhall.]

So Algy took one more look down the loch to the south, where the green island floated on the silvery water, and prepared to set off on his journey home…

Algy is thinking of all his friends who are travelling at this time of year, and wishes each of you a safe and pleasant journey, and a joyful arrival at your destination. Turas math dhuibh! xoxo

When the tide came in, Algy moved back from the water’s edge, onto an area of soft green grass. He gazed out across the great sea loch towards the other shore, with its hills shrouded in low-lying clouds. Some distance beyond those hills lay his home in the far west, and the irises would be flowering there too now. It was surely time to set off homewards… As Algy reclined among the wildflowers in the low light of the long summer evening, he remembered a poem by Rabindranath Tagore:

The time that my journey takes is long and the way of it long.

I came out on the chariot of the first gleam of light, and pursued my
voyage through the wildernesses of worlds leaving my track on many a star and planet.

It is the most distant course that comes nearest to thyself,
and that training is the most intricate which leads to the utter simplicity of a tune.

The traveler has to knock at every alien door to come to his own,
and one has to wander through all the outer worlds to reach the innermost shrine at the end.

My eyes strayed far and wide before I shut them and said “Here art thou!”

The question and the cry “Oh, where?” melt into tears of a thousand
streams and deluge the world with the flood of the assurance “I am!”

[Algy is quoting the poem Journey Home by the late 19th/early 20th century Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore.]