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A land of my own—what I learned about loneliness when I spent a night on an abandoned island

I had wanted isolation but when I found it, it had frightened me.

By Cal Flyn   November 2019

"My own private island, at least for one night." Illustration: Kate Hazell

I spend a lot of time on my own—working at my desk at home alone, travelling for work, or walking in nature. But when I spent a night by myself on an abandoned island, I found the extreme solitude there less familiar and more disturbing than I might have imagined.

I travelled to the island of Swona, a few miles off John O’Groats in the Pentland Firth. During the 18th century, there were nine…

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