The island of Coll is roughly fifty miles from the Scottish mainland, hidden from view by Mull. This whalebone arch, looking a bit sorry for itself, is what greets you at the pier when you step off the ferry. It comes apparently from a washed up Fin whale and it looks like it was quite a big one. There used to be a lot more of these things around. I remember as a child coming across one in a park in Hull. I have forgotten everything else about that day: where it was, who I was with, or what I was doing there. Even when you just came off a ferry that swallows 40-tonne trucks whole, they seem strange and wondrously large:
Let us now with whatever levers and steam-engines we have at hand, cant over the sperm whale’s head, that it might lie bottom up; then, ascending by a ladder to the summit, peep down into the mouth; and were it not that the body is now completely separated from it, with a lantern we might descend into the great Kentucky Mammoth Cave of his stomach.