You are sitting on a rock near the top of Suilven, with Lochinver just four miles to the north west, having your lunch of houmous salad rolls and diet cola with no other evidence of man's existence. Then you see it. Wedged between two large boulders is a two-foot ceramic sculpture, weathered and looking curiously at home.

Or perhaps you are descending the 2774ft of Resipol in Ardnamurchan with nobody for company but a solitary patrolling buzzard, when you see three objects bobbing across the surface of a small lochan blown by a breeze, all the world like three stones defying the laws of physics. Blown into the edge, they can be retrieved from the reeds so you can again examine them and establish their hand-made ceramic pedigree.

What can it all mean? Are these things the remains of some cult's activities, or evidence of an unknown civilisation? There is, of course, always the possibility of inter-galactic tourism, but would the visitors really come all that distance just to litter our remote places with pottery?

It is a deal simpler. Lotte Glob and her rucksack have passed this way before you, bearing pieces of her art from her gallery/workshop in Balnakeil craft village near Durness.

This is what this mother of three has been doing these past 16 years as part of a remarkable dialogue she has

been conducting with her Highland landscape. Fifty-eight in July, she is the picture of fitness and certainly has no intention of interrupting the conversation. She remembers clearly its first lines:

''It was about 1986. I had come back from London. I had been down on a promotional trip, but it had been very hard to sell my work. I just wanted them to look at my work and tell me if they liked it or not, but they wanted CVs and plans and things I

didn't have.

''I came home and I was very depressed so I decided to go for a walk from Cape Wrath to Sandwood. Just as I walked out the door, I passed one of the sculptures standing with dust on it and I thought it belonged out there in the hills. That was where I got my inspiration, my materials, everything, and I thought it was time to put something back.

''When I stopped for my lunch that day, I took it out of my rucksack and put it down between rocks and thought it really looked good there. I walked on a wee bit and then looked back and an oyster-catcher was sitting on it. It had been accepted.

''That's how it started, a sort of thank you to nature. It grew from there to become a ritual and now there are about 70 of my pieces out in the hills between here and Torridon. They are just sitting there in over 5000 square kilometres of wilderness, on top of mountains, hidden valleys.

''Usually I select a safe, unobtrusive place where it will not be blown down the mountainside or get kicked over by a passing deer. I then photograph it in its new surroundings. I also keep a diary documenting the day, the weather, if anything happened on my walk.''

She gives an example: ''Monday 26.8.89, 5.30am. An exceptionally hot day - a quick decision of two-day hike with pot - heading for Suilven - walked in from Lochinver - very hot no shade from sun, cooling down in passing streams and lochans - heading towards this formidable

pillar of a mountain - resting and pondering by Loch a Choire Dhuibh, hot and oppressive - watching . . .''

She still goes to the mountain tops, to the high places but she has been increasingly drawn to other features of the hills. ''The one thing I really love, even more than sitting on top of the hills, is seeing these lochans, up in the corries, at the foot of hills, all over. They are so lovely to me. So I

decided I would take three of my ceramic floating stones up to one on a hill in Ardgour, again giving something back to these beautiful mysterious places which have seen so much. That started the next thing in my life. I wanted 333 floating stones to be placed in lochans, three in each of 111 lochans. I have just done that, so I think it will have to be 333 lochans because I just can't stop it.''

So why 333? Lotte Glob just laughs but makes no attempt to explain apart from declaring it ''a magic number''. She is proud that she has managed to export her great passion.

''There was a young Mexican girl who used to work in the cafe here and she loved my floating stones. Before she left to go home she asked if she could buy one, but I thought I would give her two so she could put one in a lochan in Mexico (or the Spanish language equivalent).

''She was so happy. That developed, so now I am not the only one putting floating stones in lochans. People who have been up here, who have this feeling for nature, and like to go out into the hills, take one with them and put them in a lochan here or wherever they came from. Now it has become a big picture. There are floating stones in Japan, India, Mexico, Africa, Iceland, Finland, Canada. They send me a little card back and say where they have put them, with a photograph or a drawing. I think it is really lovely to share that.''

The original idea of making the stones had come from her love of stones and pebbles on the beach. She arranged 333 of her floating stones in a circle on the newly washed sands of Balnakeil, near Durness, photographed them and then waited for the tide to sweep in and rearrange them across its highest line. Later she arranged them as a line of pearls, and repeated the process.

On a hillside just to the east of Balnakeil beach lies Rob Donn (1714-1778), the celebrated but unlettered Gaelic poet, who might well have approved of Lotte's tidal sculpture just below him. After all, that is where his generous chief used to send a cask of whisky at Christmas for his people to indulge, as he himself recorded.

He was a Mackay and this was the old Mackay country. Some of that name are still here, many others have left to be replaced by people from further afield. In Lotte's case it is 34 years since she and her then husband, David, arrived to the take over a shell of a building in what was the old army camp at Balnakeil. It was a long road to the Mackay country for this

remarkable woman.

Born in Jutland, Denmark, the daughter of an archaeologist father who was the author of The Bog Book, her home was always full of artists. She hated school and left when she was 14. She first tried pottery when she was 13 and got her own wheel. After leaving school she began as an apprentice potter and helping round the house with Gutte Eriksen in Sjaelland, where she stayed for three years. She moved on to study under Knut Jensen at his traditional pottery in Sorring, where the family had been potting for eight generations. Then in 1963 she took the enormous step of moving to County Cork without a word of English, never mind Gaeilge (Irish Gaelic). She was just 19.

SHE recalls: ''I loved Ireland, the people, and the scenery, but for the first few months I didn't speak. But I used to hitchhike round the country and I had to learn to speak. I was in that pottery for six months and then took off to tour

Ireland. I knew then I didn't want to go back home to Denmark. I had an address of one of my brother's scout friends who lived in Midlothian. So I thought I would go to Scotland and see if I could get a job in a pottery there.

''I took the cattle boat from Dublin to Glasgow. I remember coming up the Clyde and seeing the hills of

Argyll in the early morning mist and fell in love with Scotland immediately. It reminded me of when I went to Norway at the age of seven and the excitement at seeing mountains for the first time. The quietness, the smell

of the hills stayed with me, the

incredible peace.

''But I had always wanted to go to Scotland from the days of studying geography. And it was very funny because I always remembered from these lessons the names of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness, Thurso, and Durness. I thought I would always love to go to that corner of Scotland

at Durness.''

She then went on to work with David Illingworth at his pottery at Morar. He was later to become her husband. They toured France, lived in Denmark for a year, where they had their first daughter, but decided to live in Scotland. The island of Pabay, off Broadford Bay, Skye, was the first stop, then down to Barcaldine in Argyll with a family of Quakers, a tonne of clay, and an electric kiln. They were looking to start a pottery, but it didn't work out.

''That was when we heard about Balnakeil. As soon as I saw the area I knew we had to come here. But we arrived with two kids, a tonne of clay, the kiln, and (pounds) 5 in our pocket. The buildings had been completely vandalised. Ours was just a concrete block with a roof. But what a work space! So we started building a home. We lived on virtually nothing. Had the local shop not been so wonderful in helping us, we could not have survived the first winter.''

Three decades later Lotte has established an international reputation for her work and has exhibited widely. Indeed, her work is to be found at

Kilmorack Gallery, near Beauly.

But she is in the process of moving her operation from Balnakeil to nine miles to the east and her newly-acquired croft on the shores of Loch Eriboll. Those seeking her should have little trouble. Hers is the croft with the flying stones, one of her

new lines.