Sunday, September 02, 2018

the Start of Autumn

We had a bit of an unusual summer given both finally selling the bungalow in Cornwall and Helen working an extended notice, these together meant we really had to concentrate on our holidays planned in July and August in Cornwall, but neither of these really panned out as expected.   The latter in particular was a wash-out, though it didn't stop some people playing on the beach against a setting sun in Newquay:

Roll on to August in Scotland and the weather settled back to more normal patterns.  Through my membership of the Falkirk Camera Club and the club's growing relationship with Strathcarron Hospice, I was invited to attend a Swamp Challenge and to photograph the participants.   I chose to position myself at the end of the water slide, capturing some fun images of people getting cold, wet and filthy:

Their expressions say it all I think:

Around this time Helen's extended notice finally expired and we started to have a little more time on our hands together.   The first opportunity to make the most of this occurred at the end of August with a bright spell forecast up Inverness way for a few days.   We booked a B&B on the Black Isle, just north of the city and headed up.  On the way up we stopped off at Stanley Mills, a fascinating site with working machinery and an interesting location alongside the Tay:

We checked in to our B&B on Avoch (pronounced Auch) and then headed down to Chanonry Point, a known Dolphin watching spot, this is the lighthouse on the Point:

The weather was closing in and being high-tide there were no animals to see, so we headed back to sort out some food for dinner, opting for the Indian take-away in the village.   A good choice it turns out.

The following morning we drove to Fortrose and parked near the ruined Cathedral before then walking down to the Point.   We timed our arrival to about an hour after low-tide, in theory the best time to see the Dolphins.  We weren't disappointed.   We must have seen 25-30 animals feeding, chasing the incoming salmon and playing.   Mothers with calves, larger groups from very close to the middle distance.   Here's a couple jumping between the Point and Fort George:

I tried very hard to get a good image of one of the occasional leaps, this is the best I managed, the mother leaping and being watched by her calf:

The fish they were pursuing often seemed too big for the Dolphins to eat:

From the Point we then walked up the other side towards Rosemarty, and stopped for a cuppa on the magnificent sandy beach and basked in the sunhine:

We then walked up the Fairy Glen, seeing Dipper in the stream before heading back to Fortrose for the evening, having walked a good 7 miles.

The following morning we visited Strathpeffer in Easter Ross for a planned 10 mile walk.  It has a very tourist friendly centre with cafes, maps, parking and shopping as well as some substantial hotels.   We parked and then started our walk, heading back up the road, passing on the way this fascinating Kirk:

Before taking a track to Kinneil Farm with its small loch:

And then walking through the woodland toward Rogie Falls.   We did manage to get thoroughly lost a number of times though these wrong turns took us into some very fungi-rich woodland so it wasn't too bad.   We were grateful for the GPS capability coupled with off-line maps on my phone to get us found again and back on track to the falls.

We did reach the falls and it was worth the walk and although the mostly uphill return wasn't looked forward to it proved easy enough:

As the sun had come out during our walk so there was more activity on the way back, we saw some rough looking Scotch Argus butterflies on one section:

Having completed the walk and lunched in Strathpeffer we then headed to a local RSPB Red Kite feeding centre, though the Kites were somewhat reluctant a few did glide around:

From there we  drove to Redcastle, parked and went to look at the ruins.   As we parked an Osprey flew in, dove and caught a fish and then took off and away with it:

Back at the B&B a Painted Lady was feeding on the Buddleia:

Our last morning on The Black Isle we drove up to Cromarty at the tip:

There's much more visible industry on Cromarty Firth then there is on Moray Firth:

At a guess these are something to do with wind turbines, possibly waiting to be shipped off shore?  Or perhaps they are part of the ones being convoyed down the A9 which we were lucky to only get caught behind briefly:

As we left The Black Isle the views over Easter Ross looked enticing, another day:


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