Posted by: Ross Gardner | July 11, 2017

From Forest to Mountain to Coast

Due to my, shall we say, sporadic blogging during the Big Trip (due to hit-and-miss access to the internet and a Luddite approach to cutting edge mobile technology!) and bearing down as I now am on the splendours of the West Country, I thought a whistle-stop tour, for those who are interested, through the rest of Scotland and the North might be in order as I struggle to catch up with myself.

From the Loch of Lowes and its beaver we found our way to the Cairngorms…

Cairngorms from Glenmore (scaled)#

The Cairngorms are a very splendid range of mountains on the eastern side of the Highlands, a constant and towering presence over our base for a few days in Glenmore Forest Park.

Cairngorms 8 (scaled)

Their lofty elevations mean that the highest reaches are the haunt of many a creature closely associated with our montane habitats. This mountain pass – Lairig Ghru – echoed to the croaking calls of Ptarmigan (Lagopus muta – that so very hardy member of the grouse family) and did we hear the piping strains of that montane plover, the Dotterel (Charadrius morinellus), ringing out elusively above us as we ascended?

Ring Ouzel - male 2 (scaled)

The Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus) is less restricted to mountainous terrain, but is very much a bird of the uplands, weather mountain or moor.

Glenmore - native pinewood 3 (scaled)

Glenmore itself, while much planted with alien conifers, still contains remnants of beautiful Caledonian Pinewood. This indigenous woodland, dominated by native Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris), would once have covered vast tracts of the post-glacial Scotland.

With some deliberation on where to head next, the draw of the west was too strong.  Via a detour through the exceedingly beautiful Glen Affric we pitched up at Glenuig, a tiny village on the west coast…

Glenuig 2 (scaled)

The view from the van pretty much says it all.

Glenuig 5 (scaled)

It is a place of surprises, where the rugged hills may give way to verdant woodland and even the odd sandy beach.

Common Gull (scaled)

Being so used to seeing the Common Gull (Larus canus) as a wintering bird on the Essex coast at home, the appearance of the clean-cut, rather elegant summer bird took a bit of getting used to. Not seeing them for yourself and being accustomed to the more ruggedly attired winter gull, Seton Gordon’s (a 20th century Scottish Naturalist) description of “fairy-like grace” could seem a bit of a nonsense.

We hauled ourselves away from Glenuig and made for wonder that is the fabulous Glen Coe…

Glen Coe 8 (scaled)

Glen Coe is just magnificent mountain country, of which the pass of Allt Coire Gabhail is just a small and stunning part. It is the realm of Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), which we have been fortunate enough to watch twice here.

Red Deer - Glen Coe 2 (scaled)

Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) inhabit the glen occasionally allowing for excellent photo opportunities, like this stag developing his velvety antlers.

Loch Leven sunset 2 (scaled)

And the sunsets from the village……!!

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