Monday, October 30, 2017

Autumn in Scotland

After recovering from the flu I picked-up on the Orkney trip it was time to rebuild some strength and also to indulge my renewed interest in photography (I've recently joined Falkirk Camera Club with a view to learning more about photography, our adopted home of Scotland and anything else I can pick-up, frankly).

I've been itching to get out but once well enough the weather was against me, until finally a brightish day gave me a chance to pop down to Cumbernauld to visit another Andy Scott sculpture, called Arria:



I also explored some nearby woodland, the imaginatively named Forest Wood.  It wasn't up to much in terms of Autumn colour and is obviously well used with all the rubbish and burned patches.  I did however discover this tiny young Newt while re-tying my laces on a tree stump:



A favourite stop-off remains the Kelpies.  On a partly clear day with the hills behind them they look magnificent.   Kudos to the Council and the Artist:



We had a week off to go to Cornwall but it proved to anything but a holiday and we didn't really get out much at all.  On return to Scotland we'd missed a good patch of weather but at least had a planned weekend in Aberdeen for our Anniversary to look forward to.

I drove up stopping first at Montrose Basin SWT reserve.   I was shocked to find that 60% of the land is actually used for killing ducks and geese still.   Like so many other nature reserves in the UK it is ringed by land used for shooting wildlife and in particular the inhabitants of the nature reserves.   It's just so cynical and heart-breaking.   We're becoming more like the USA as time goes by in this regard.

I left the reserve and headed towards the town proper, stopping to explore the Eastern end of the basin, which looked quiet bleak and forlorn:



On up the coast I stopped again at Dunnottar, still not been able to photography this in sunlight, one day!   I did however pay to enter and explore, and it's worth it, one of my favourite spots in this area i think:



From there I went on to Crathes Castle NTS.  I didn't have enough time to properly explore it but it looks very interesting and a worthwhile place to go back to:



That evening I met Helen off her train from Glasgow and we dined in Aberdeen before getting an early night.

The following day, Friday, we decided to explore Aberdeen City Centre, trying to find a cooked breakfast, which we singularly failed to do.  We did enjoy the architecture though:



Helen located a cafe on the fun beach to the North of the City Centre which we headed to.   It met our hopes and we enjoyed our breakfast although by now it was afternoon proper.   Down on the beach the tide was coming in, lapping up against the sea defences:



From there we headed down to Torry Point Battery and the main Aberdeen harbour entrance.   With the tide nearly full various large oil industry boats were headed in, however we watched the waves hitting up against the outer harbour wall:



 The sea was too rough for the dolphins we'd hoped to watch but seeing the wall breached by wave after wave was something:



The wind was picking up and the forecast rain started so we headed back to get ready for dinner with our nephew, which we thoroughly enjoyed, the company and the food at Shri Bheema in Aberdeen was fantastic.

Saturday Aberdeen was under a large, wet cloud, so we headed Northwest benefiting from Helen's research into places to visit outside of the city.

We finally got out from under the rain as we approached the town of Keith and our first stop at Balvenie Castle.   This was the transition area:



The light wasn't great for capturing a good quality image of the castle but the coos in a nearby field were worth capturing:



From Balvenie we headed to Auchindoun Castle.  Which is a cracking ruin of a castle:



It's set in a very pretty landscape and is host to some horror stories of history.  I also had a 'clunk-click' with a favourite song from my youth, by a band and on an album I must have heard 30 years ago, but cannot recall nor locate it.  The words came back straight away though:

'Heid me, hang me, that shall never fear me
I'll burn Auchindoun ere the life leave me'


The glen down from the castle with small burn running through it was briefly lit by the emerging sun:



 From Auchindoun we headed on to Huntly and the Castle/Palace there, which was the most impressive building of the day:



It's also set in leafy parkland, ideal at this time of year.  After Huntly our last stop was at Leith Hall NTS which is set in a beautiful woodland resplendent in Autumn colour:



Sunday started dark and rain-sodden so we headed for home having thoroughly enjoyed both the trip and chance to re-boot.

After that it was waiting for the weather to improve again, which it threatened but failed to deliver one Thursday morning.  I drove to New Lanark to capture the colour there against a blue sky however it remained resolutely grey, thwarting my aspirations:





That night our camera club had booked to visit the Falkirk Wheel to do some night photography, and had sent out some advice beforehand so we could arrive prepared.  We decided to first visit the Kelpies, our first night-time visit and they proved magnificent:





The Wheel was bust however as the lights weren't working, the message to advise the club of this hadn't been passed on and the staff had all gone home.   This led to 30-40 people hanging around in the dark for an hour waiting for confirmation that the evening was cancelled.  I felt sorry for the organisers at the club and more than a little annoyed with the staff at the wheel for not caring.

Roll on then the last weekend of Autumn (I'm calling it this because we had our first hard frost, -1c last night), and the arrival of a group of Helen's colleagues from her early professional training days).  They spent Friday afternoon exploring Stirling, Saturday we drove them to the Kelpies, the Wheel, The Forth bridges and Linlithgow Palace and the Sunday it was New Lanark again.

I was delighted to be designated driver rather than left at home as finally there were fleeting moments of blue sky and sunshine, which always makes the site look amazing:



And highlights the colours in the leaves:



The waterfall was in flood:



Further up the Clyde the larger falls were mostly in shade but still looking lovely as the treetops were caught by the infrequent sunlight:


I tried some slower exposures to give the water the 'silky' look:




















It was a great afternoon.   As the sun headed for the far horizon we headed closer to Glasgow, stopping at Chatelherault, south of Hamilton:



And watched the sunset, while the temperature fell away:



So now we're in the cross-over between Autumn and Winter, there's a huge amount to look forward to in terms of exploring and hopefully photography opportunities just around the corner, weather permitting...

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