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Living at the edge of the world

Welcome to Foula, Britain’s most remote inhabited island, where the wind blows at gale force most of the time and there are no shops or pubs

Twenty miles or so off the west coast of Shetland is an island. It measures three and a half miles long by two and a half miles wide and consists, to the west and north, of five mighty hills that rise at their peak to more than 1,300ft and end, abruptly, in the highest cliffs in the country: lob a pebble off the top and it will hit the waves below 11 seconds later. To the south and east there is a bleak lowland strip of rock, bog, peat banks and coarse, wind-flattened brown grass. When the Atlantic storms blow, which at this time of year is almost all the time, it is almost unbelievably windy here; the kind of wind that makes your eyes water as you lean into it and lifts you half off your feet when you turn your back. The sky, consequently, is filled with startled-looking seabirds, many of them flying backwards.

There are reasonable, although not conclusive grounds for supposing that this could be the place the ancients called Ultima Thule, the edge of the known world. It lies on the same latitude as St Petersburg in Russia, and Anchorage in Alaska, and is roughly as far from Aberdeen as it is from Bergen in Norway. London, mercifully, is closer than Reykjavik. But not by much.

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Max, 19, hits the road

Meet Max Gogarty – 19, from north London, spends his money on food, booze and skinny jeans, writes for Skins in his spare time. He’s off to India and Thailand to have a good time, and you can join him in his weekly blog

Hello. I’m Max Gogarty. I’m 19 and live on top of a hill in north London.

At the minute, I’m working in a restaurant with a bunch of lovely, funny people; writing a play; writing bits for Skins; spending any sort of money I earn on food and skinny jeans, and drinking my way to a financially blighted two-month trip to India and Thailand. Clichéd I know, but clichés are there for a reason.

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