I have recently returned from a week in the Scottish Highlands. I went there in expectation of moody skies, rain and heavy clouds. I went there expecting to fill some cards in my camera and to have lots of new images to share. I haven't been anywhere since November really so I was itching to get out into the mountains and fill my boots, as the saying goes. Well, the sun came out nearly every day. There was hardly a cloud in the sky for three or four of the days and the sun was high and bright. I was very surprised and I had to reassess what I was looking to get out of the week. This was one occasion where the weather and I were not going to meet in the middle. I was there for a break though and a change of scenery. I still had that.
The drive up was a very good one. I left home at 05.15 and I was crossing the Erskine Bridge just the other side of Glasgow by 11.30. I was now getting into Scotland properly as I passed Loch Lomond and through Tyndrum up onto the edge of Rannoch Moor. Loch na H'Achlaise looked good under the blue sky as I passed on the way to Glen Coe. There was Stob Dearg, the finest peak of Buachaille Etive Mor standing proud like a gateway to the Highlands. The bright sun beat down as I continued to my base for the week at Fort William.
Sunday dawned cloudy and drizzly. A perfect day to get my boots on. It was still the weekend and I knew everywhere was going to be very busy at this time of year so I headed for Glen Nevis. There is a walk that goes through Nevis Gorge to Steall Falls and I opted for this. It is a lovely walk through woodland and climbing up over the gorge with huge rocks and rushing water. Eventually you emerge on a flat land with Steall Falls pouring down from the mountains opposite. The clouds were breaking up but had been wonderful as they hugged the peaks and tumbled down the hill sides. This place has a lovely, calming effect.
When I left here I headed off to Corpach to see my favourite, stranded boat. The MV Dayspring that I have photographed many a time. Today the tide was very high so there was actually some shallow water beneath her. No where near enough to trouble her but not something I see very often. The sun was out and shone down brightly on my boat.
Monday morning started sunny. I headed for Buachaille Etive Mor and then down Glen Etive. I found Lochan Urr down a small, disused logging road. This is a lovely little secret and I was on my own there. I had a packed lunch at Loch Etive. Thankfully it was too early in the season for the midges to be a nuisance. I have been there before when the midges were so bad I didn't even get out of the car. From here I went to have a good look round at Loch na H'Achlaise as I often don't have much time here when passing through on the way home from Skye. I managed to get very wet which reminded me I had meant to get some new goretex walking shoes before coming up. I went to Fort William and sorted that out as well as a cold beer as it was very warm under the sun. Also a very tasty salted caramel ice cream.
Tuesday was cloudy but dry. I headed out to get a picture of the Jacobite steam train as it headed off to Mallaig. The spot I had chosen wasn't as good as I had hoped but I didn't have time to change it so I went with it. Then the rain started so I headed off to Mallaig where I had a wonderful lunch in the Cornerstone Restaurant. I recommend this place but you have to get there as it opens as most tables are already booked. After lunch I spent some time at Traigh beach in the rain before heading back to the MV Dayspring hoping for more moody shots than on Sunday.
Wednesday was the day I had planned to do some climbing. It dawned stupidly hot and sunny but I decided to go anyway. I went down to Buachaille Etive Mor to go up Beinn A'Chrulaiste from whihc you get a great view. Well, I climbed it and the view was great to look at but not great to photograph as it was just too bright and sunny with no clouds. It was at this point that I realised the photography was not my only reason for being here. I could just sit there, which I did, for quite a while, soaking up that view and passing the time with a couple of other hikers who had made their way up. It occurred to me I wasn't getting any of the shots I had hoped to get when I planned this trip but hey.......what does that matter? I was having a great time. I was not working. I was somewhere I love to be. OK so it was just too sunny and bright so I just had to enjoy being there and put my camera away.
When I had got down again I went to look at Loch Achtriochtan and some small falls at Clachaig. I went round Loch Leven and enjoyed the views from Balaculish Bridge. I went back to my cottage for an early couple of beers and to wash my trousers and fleece that I had got very dirty when falling a couple of times on the way down the mountain. The ground was very wet and slippery in some of the run off areas, that's all. Nothing dramatic.
When I got up on Thursday to even more bright sunshine and lack of clouds I decided to just do something completely different and I went to the Highland Wildlife Park. Five months ago they had the arrival of a baby polar bear named Wee Hamish so I figured I' go and see him. I wasn't expecting to see him as I thought he was still hanging around the den with his mother, Victoria. They were out though and I watched them playing in the sun and swimming in the pond. It was a lovely way to spend then day. I wasn't going to photograph much anyway. I took some very long range pictures of Wee Hamish so they aren't anything to look at. It was great to see him though.
Friday. My last day. As photography was still being a challenge I thought I would arrange my day around having a good lunch at Crannog Restaurant in Fort William. One of my favourite places to eat. I don't get the chance to eat there very often. If you like fresh sea food this is the place to go though. So in the morning I decided to chase the Jacobite steam train across the glens on it's journey. I had three places in mind. Corpach, where I succeeded, by the roadside north of Glenfinnan, where I succeeded and further north near an old church. Unfortunately I arrived there at the same time as the train so could only enjoy watching it go past on it's journey. Back to Fort William for lunch then I spent the rest of the day doing not very much but supporting local businesses of various kinds in the town.
That was my week.
I didn't get what what I wanted........but I did get what I needed which was a fabulous break and lots of relaxing. So just because you don't get what you want, it doesn't mean your time has been wasted. It doesn't mean you should be disappointed. You just have to adjust your expectations a little and enjoy every day as much as you possibly can. I can honestly say that I did exactly that.
Now it is time to turn my attention to you and what you have been doing for the last month or so. Creating wonderful pieces of art is what you have been doing. Magical, inspirational, heart warming art. I am blessed to have met so many creative people here. It gives me the greatest pleasure to share your work and let more people know how wonderful you all are. So if you see anything here that touches you in some way please let the artist know. I kind comment from you may be the best thing that happens to them today
Here we go then. Sit back and enjoy.
Thank you so much for taking the time to look through the pictures and even more thanks if your read my journal too
I take my hat off to you all for your never ending enthusiasm and love for what you create. It fills me with joy to know I can come here and always see something new from you. What a bunch of artists you are. I am honoured to have found you here and I am even more honoured to share your pictures. I will catch up replying to your comments on my pictures one day too. I will get there, I promise. I appreciate you taking the time to comment very much and you know I love to read your comments
Take care of yourselves until next we meet. Take care of each other and your loved ones. Share your love and keep creating. My love and friendship to you all