The house where George Orwell penned his masterpiece, published 70 years ago today, has hardly changed, nor has the brooding and remote Scottish island he loved
The black typewriter gives a satisfying clack when I hit its keys. The antiquated contraption sits on an upstairs windowsill in a house where there is a view on to a bay of graphite-coloured water that laps the shore. Above are tumbling slopes of bog cotton, bracken and foxgloves.
In the late 1940s, Barnhill, a stout, white-washed house, on the Scottish island of Jura in the Inner Hebrides, was exactly what George Orwell was looking for: a remote retreat unreachable by vehicle. He described it as in an extremely un-get-atable place; somewhere he could write what would be his final work 1984.
Its as difficult to reach today as it was when Orwell made Barnhill his temporary home with his sister Avril, his housekeeper Susan and his young son Richard. The journey from the mainland involves two ferries (one from Kennacraig to Islay, then another to Jura), a 20-mile drive and then a four-mile walk along a dirt track.
The island has one single-track road which winds and tapers down the eastern side. On my visit, the sun cast shafts of light over the Paps, a trio of scree-covered peaks in the middle of the southern half of the island. Red deer seemed utterly untroubled by my presence (they outnumber people 25 to one), and one russet-coloured stag ambled across the road ahead of me before slipping through thick hedgerows.