Sunday, 8 December 2013

Loch Garten Nature Reserve. Abernethy Forest.

On the last day of our trip Alex and Julian suggested a exploration of Loch Garten as the weather was still very mixed on the heights. Yet another area I hadn't been to so I was delighted. I was also impressed by the size and age of many of the trees in the surrounding Abernethy Forest. A good network of trails radiate from the Loch Garten Osprey centre into the forest reserve and a pleasant few hours can be had exploring the loch and a couple of neighbouring smaller lochs nearby. You can see why the first ospreys returning to Scotland picked here as the landscape feels very Scandinavian and remote.

Fairly easy to get lost here if you wander onto the further away back trails as its pretty featureless. For first timers when you arrive out the forest onto the shoreline one loch looks very much like another.
This is Loch Garten. Very quiet and still in the winter months. The official RSPB link here which includes some great photos of the animals in the reserve.
The osprey centre is shut in winter but all the trails are free throughout the year.
Loch Garten again. Different Spot. We also managed to take in Nethy bridge and Granton on Spey. Unheard of for me to visit so many new areas on a weekend in a familiar location so I was well chuffed.
Granton in particular was slightly larger and grander than expected, a Victorian resort town with a  substantial feel to the buildings and we had a good wander round the shops and down the main street. Not as touristy or as in your face as Aviemore. Traditional and attractive in a low key manner.

Driving back down the road towards Glasgow we hit some strange weather effects.
Stirling Castle above.
Just before Stirling we ran into a line of Mammatus clouds forming but we were past them before I could capture the full effect. These usually indicate a storm brewing and can form into individual eggs or an entire egg box patterned sky. Udder clouds building and a dark threatening sky yet at Stirling itself, just a few miles down the road it was clear and sunny again. Weird.
The Wallace Monument below.  Good link here to an effect I've only witnessed a few times in Scotland. Once before a really ferocious winter storm that hit the next day and almost blew our bothy down, with trees toppled everywhere in the morning with the strength of the wind.

It was no surprise therefore to enter Glasgow and witness a scene similar to a biblical apocalypse with dark swirling clouds above the city and what looked like a mini tornado attempting a touch down over East Kilbride. Heavy rain but no cars or wind turbines flew into the air.  Good effect though.
An enjoyable weekend made possible by staying low. Even managed to improve my tan.


Carol said...

Loch Garten looks a belter. I'm sure I've driven through Grantown on Spey but don't remember it - time for a re-visit I think. I'd like to tackle Ben Avon from that side if possible anyway - have you ever approached it from the north?

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
Nope. Only been up it the once from the other side and that was so long ago(30 years) I can hardly remember that occasion. I've literally climbed 1000's of hills since then so I'm always amazed my knees are still semi OK as long as I look after them and don't trash them too much. That's another reason I avoid large hills in bad weather as its extra wear and tear I can do without. I save my creaking bones for big mountains when its sunny and worth the extra effort.

Carol said...

I've still got some tops to collect on Ben Avon and, carelessly, on Beinn a' Bhuird! Couldn't find Cnap na Cleirich in the mist! :-(

But I'll be picking and choosing more when I've got my final 2 Munros out of the way :-)

The Glebe Blog said...

Finally catching up Bob. You might not have had the best weather, but you certainly captured the spirit of Scotland, completely different to the cotton fields of South Georgia.
Bracken, rain, mountains, lochs, castles, pheasants, log cabins and snow.
As a youngster whenever I went to Glasgow by bus the most amazing sight was coming into Stirling and seeing the castle and saying to myself I'll get a look at that sometime. You can count on one hand the number of times I've visited Stirling, and I've yet to get to the castle. Maybe 2014 is the year.

Kay G. said...

Wow. I love this post, I just can't tell you how much.
Love all your photos, the trails around the lochs, the clouds, the thought of even seeing an osprey!
We saw one once at Arabia Lake and we heard it before we saw it.
I WILL get to Scotland, one day!
Oh! And I wouldn't mind seeing the castles either!

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Jim,
Looked like you had a cracking adventure over in the States. The weather has been dreadful here so you didn't miss much.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Kay,
Yet another thing I didn't know was the fact that you have Ospreys over there. I just assumed bald eagles would take their place as fish eating birds of prey as I've never noticed them in any stateside wildlife films. There's probably a lot of USA animals I'm not familiar with, especially birds and small mammals. They are still fairly rare here but the reintroduced Red Kite, another spectacular bird has really exploded and you see them quite often now soaring over Perthshire and Galloway.