Scotland’s Autumn Beauty


In the last week of our time in Scotland the season of fall really began to become noticeable.  Leaves were swirling in the wind or scattered across the ground, some trees were becoming more bare whilst others turned fiery red, and the days were unmistakeably getting shorter.  We spent the last days making our way back from the rugged beauty of Torridon to the gentler valley of the Great Glen.  The crazy thing about Scotland is that there is just no predicting what the weather will throw up, so in some ways it is more difficult to anticipate what kind of light you will get.  A lot of the times I felt that you just had to be in the right place at the right time and have a lot of luck on your side! One of the more memorable evenings we had was our second day in the Torridon region.  We had woken up to steady drizzling rain, and decided to while the time away catching up with emails, facebook and other such technologically-reliant routines.  Late in the day we were making our way back to the hostel, having given up on dramatic lighting and a possible lookout hike, and on a whim thought we would stop by some unnamed waterfalls so that we had an excuse to pull out the camera for the day.  It was while we were ambling back to the car that I looked at the western horizon and noticed that the rain clouds were blowing quite quickly away, leaving a clear horizon.  This was at 4pm.  We hurried a little faster back to the car and drove to a carpark that we had previously established was the starting point for a trail from which Beinn Eighe and Slioch were visible. We started the 550m ascent at 4.45pm, with me struggling ( I am not particularly fond of uphill hikes… which happens to describe just about every hike in Scotland ) near the summit.  I finally puffed and panted my way up and pulled on all my warm clothing at the top before I took stock of my surroundings.  It actually didn’t look particularly fabulous – there were now no more clouds, the sun was casting harsh shadows and it was difficult to control the exposures.  In fact, it had looked better on the way UP than at the actual TOP.  So I took a couple of shots, yelled to Dylan I was going to start back down, and began picking my way down the sloping trail. Halfway down we realised we weren’t going to catch the sunset at the edge of Loch Maree like we thought, so we decided to do it on the trail, looking down.  It was one of the better decisions we made, and the light was simply amazing.  It lit up the clouds over Slioch and cast such a saturated hue of magenta that we even had to reduce it a little in post-processing. The setting sun caught the reddish autumn hues of the hills, reflected in Loch Maree. When the light was no longer catching the tops of the hills, we resumed our downward journey.  It was 7pm by now, and getting dark, and we still had a little over halfway to go, but a mist began to creep from between the valleys and curl its insubstantial fingers across the water surface.  We pulled out the cameras again. We finally made it down and reached the car in almost complete darkness at 7.45pm.  The next morning produced one of the better dawns we’d seen.  We’d got lucky with the weather for a sunset AND dawn in succession!  Hurrah!  We didn’t actually have a location in mind while we were driving around in the pre-dawn darkness, and in fact had driven the opposite way thinking we’d get something with a jetty, but in the end turned around and drove a short way to Annat and Hotel Torridon.  We walked across a cow field, clambered the gate and made our way close to loch side, then waited.  We left Torridon that day feeling pretty pleased! From Torridon we went north to Ullapool, one of the wettest regions in Scotland.  And yes, it was raining when we got there.  We decided to visit Mellon Udrigle, and luckily the rain ceased for a while as we were exploring the beach but the wind certainly didn’t let up, whipping the sand against our legs.

Over the next couple of days Dylan managed to capture this spectacular rainbow (one of the upsides of rainy weather) behind the ruins of Ardvreck Castle, and we visited the Stoer Lighthouse then walked out to the Point of Stoer and photographed the Old Man of Stoer – not to be confused with the Old Man of Storr! Finally we wound up our trip by visiting Glen Affric, with a lot less strenuous walks (although Dylan still tried a munro – but weather didn’t permit a summit) and plenty of ‘autumn’ to photograph.

We’ve now arrived in Kathmandu, Nepal, and it is exactly as we remember it back in 2006… well, if possible the Thamel district has become even more tourist-oriented.  Looking forward to a little respite from the rain and cold weather! -M

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Posted on October 8, 2010, in Photography, Scotland and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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