With the hot Scottish summer now a distant memory, autumn is firmly upon us with rain and storms. The trees have started to turn and so I took full advantage of setting leaves against rocks in the Water of Leith for some atmospheric images which were posted on Facebook. The combination always works so well and one I shall continue to use throughout October.
A quick trip to the Northumberland National Park reacquainted me with the Cheviot Hills and introduced me to the area around Alwinton. A drive over the moorland hills and through the barren military firing ranges gave some great views. The weather quickly closed in however, so we sought refuge around the pretty village of Rothbury. A return journey home via Kielder allowed us to appreciate the vastness of the reservoir and the endeavour undertaken to generate the environment as a tourist attraction. Surrounded by extensive forestry and free from light pollution, the area has acquired ‘dark sky’ status and can provide incredible views of the stars on clear nights. A couple of observatories have now sprung up to exploit opportunities and public interest. Wildlife also thrives in the woodlands resulting in interpretation centres and hides being erected for public use.
We also spent a week on a remote west coast island in Loch Moidart. Albeit only a five minute boat ride from the mainland, the island had no roads, shops, television, mobile or internet signal. It was bliss to escape the ‘noise’ of today’s world. We had to take all provisions with us (which required a degree of planning) and stayed in a small cottage with its own bay. We explored the island on foot. The wildlife was incredible with sea eagles, otters, pine martens, red deer and seals alongside so much more. It poured with rain for the first four days and we were soaked more than once but the setting and tranquility of the island was wonderful. When necessary, we were very happy to read beside the wood-burning stove to sit out rainstorms. Two days of dryness allowed for longer walks and to take in the lovely west coast views.
We spent a second week in the Cairngorms and enjoyed a walk up Glen Banchor, near Newtonmore (see image), where we found red deer and a Golden eagle. The rowan trees in the area were extraordinary with an absolute glut of red berries showing how good a year it has been for fruit and providing a bountiful food source for birds. The weather remained a mix of wind and rain but good food, wine and the lure of a book in front of the wood stove hung over from the first week!
Prior to coming away, we removed the heather honey from our bees and settled them down for the impending winter with plenty of syrup provisions. We hope for a dry and storm-free autumn to allow them every chance to hunker down - but this is Scotland!
This month sees the launch of my latest book “Mull: Moments and Memories.” It’s a photographic journey across the island reflecting on my encounters and experiences with its wildlife and scenery. It’ll be available to buy on this website from 19th October. The ideal Christmas present…