Friday, 14 April 2017

Highland Landscapes, Caledonian Forests, Rivers and Wildlife.

                                              ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN
Part Two of a Northern Highland Trip.We were very lucky with the weather on this trip as it didn't rain at all except for a couple of showers during the night when we were indoors. What we did have was a lot of thick mist. This is us dropping down into Inverness which is invisible under a mist inversion. A pea-souper awaited us in the capital of the north.
Our accommodation for the next few nights was a little cabin in the woods, kindly lent to Alex and John by a friend in our club specially for the trip. It reminded me of the But and Ben in the Broons comic strip but more room inside and more palatial obviously. This was situated out in the countryside in a lovely spot surrounded by deciduous open forests.
After a relaxing night at the cabin/hut, reading books, papers,and the Corbett Baggers Bible, John was keen to bag another of his Corbetts, this time not in Torridon, but travelling through Easter Ross into Strathcarron where rolling mountains and several splashing rivers pour down through remote hinterland between west and east coasts. This is an area of grand sporting estates, set up mainly in Victorian and Edwardian times after the original inhabitants of the glens had been cleared out, replaced by more profitable sheep, deer and salmon rights. A fine tree house network here.
A grinning Lion. Don't see that many with this facial pose.
A salt or mineral lick block for the deer and other livestock. Pheasants were around the vicinity as well.
This is us heading for John's Corbett. The mist level was fairly uniform at around the 1000 foot mark and unlike the day before it was not predicted to lift. I'd already mentioned to John I wouldn't be joining him up his Corbett if the weather was poor at height so I turned back here- much more interested in staying around the estate and exploring the native Caledonian pine forest. Judging by his photos later taken up the hill I didn't miss much and the gallery would end here if I'd disappeared up into the gloom with him.
As it was I found an interesting river walk between all the grand estates that was not only clear but filled with fishing pools, wooden walkways, steps and ladders leading paying guests down to the best deep pools.
I presumed salmon judging by the level of infrastructure and work required to lay out all these pathways.
A deep fishing pool with steps down to it.
A female goosander, a type of fast moving diving duck.
An old wooden bench with lichen growth.
The single track road through the estate and forest. This provided an enjoyable walk heading back the way we had driven in then after a few miles I cut down to find the path beside the river (near the obvious old monument/ grave) where five of the above photos were taken. Strathcarron would also be fine for a scenic cycle trip as few cars travel up and down this wild glen covered in native woodlands.
Red Squirrels made an appearance and chattered a greeting to me.  'Go away!' they said.
The normal greeting from animals. I'm rather good with wildlife and was a qualified pussy whisperer once upon a time. Felines, with or without tails, on four, three or two legs, adored me then.
So....I soon made a little friend.
But not as wild as it appears as it was after the nut container.
In places the sun almost burst through the gloom but not quite.
A bench beside the river. I enjoyed this peaceful path along the right hand bank that ran for several miles past all the fishing beats, obviously out of season, as I didn't see a soul and paying guests would always have priority here.
Trees covered in lichen and hanging moss. Due to the high levels of rainfall in these northern highland glens many of the deciduous trees look a sickly pea green colour and most of the branches would break off or crumble easily if you touched them, even large deciduous trees wouldn't take much to push them over.

 By contrast the Caledonian pines are rock solid and much better adapted to this environment.
Tree bark on an older pine.
The great wood of Caledonia. Much of Highland Scotland was once covered in forests like these - a fact that helped to save Scotland from the relentless push of the Roman Army northwards during the conquest of Britain. It's normally too wet here to burn well and the knee and thigh deep heather and swamps underfoot would make the usual tactics of fighting in tight formations against lightning fast guerrilla raids by the native tribes difficult to carry out.
The rivers are also too shallow and rock strewn to penetrate far by boat from the sea into the mountains of the west.
Cloud level still hanging over the mountains. We both had an entertaining time. John getting his Corbett without a soaking- me enjoying a river and forest walk, good wildlife, and clear photography.
Excellent result that left us both happy with our day.
Red squirrel heading back up to the tree tops.

One 'road movie' long hike film that did work for me was The Way Back. Loved this from start to finish and caught it on Film 4 on TV without any hype or foreknowledge of what it was about.


Linda W. said...

Another beautiful walk! I loved the forest and river.

Anabel Marsh said...

I think you made the better choice for the day! Beautiful red squirrels.

Carol said...

... and you're just dying to get back up there next month... you know you are!

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Linda W

blueskyscotland said...

I think I did Anabel as for me these days photography is more important than bagging invisible summits under mist but everyone has their own preference.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol.
Oh, no I'm not :o)

Rosemary said...

Lucky you Bob to have red squirrels joining you along your walk - love the little 'but and ben' accommodation hut in such a lovely location.

Linda said...

What a beautiful walk! And I love red squirrels...I never see any in Montreal, but I see many of the gray ones and a few black ones.

Anonymous said...

The natural scots pine forest are an abolute joy in those parts. I remember my first visits to Strathfarrar and Glen Affric and being mesmerised by their beauty. Enjoyed a few remaining strands up in the Cairngorms last weekend.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Rosemary,
Yes, I don't see red squirrels very often let alone photograph them from 10 feet away. Normally they are too fast. Last time was in Northern Spain in a tree filled campsite. Picos De Europa at Fuente De.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Linda,
one up on me then. I've never seen a black one yet but I think you get them here as well.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Andy,
yes, Glen Affric and Loch Rannoch around Schiehallion was my first taste of wild camping and backpacking through extensive native pine forests. Very different from the modern block plantations that cover Scotland now- many set up as tax avoidance schemes years ago- same as some wind farms today.