The Cairngorms – Granite and Pine

Following on from my trip around the Moray and Aberdeenshire coasts I turned inland through part of Royal Deeside and made my way into the Cairngorms National Park, Britains largest last great wildest space and most remote National Park with its inspiring mountains, ancient pines and golden shores.  As I approached the park from Royal Deeside it was mid to late afternoon and out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the distant setting sunlight intermittently breaking through the clouds forming rays of light cascading down to create a wonderfully layered silhouette of the Cairngorms in all their glory.
 
I stayed about 6 miles outside Aviemore in the Glenmore Forest Park.  The weather was reasonably kind but changeable which is only to be expected in Scotland particularly in Autumn.  As usual, I had researched potential locations that I wanted to visit so on my first full day I headed out through Aviemore with a plan only to have to change it at the last minute when I saw the rapidly deteriorating weather in the direction of my original planned location.  Nothing out of the ordinary for landscape photography so I changed to plan B and after a short while arrived close to Loch Pityoulish and walked along the shoreline.  There are so many photographic opportunities there I must have spent at least an hour strolling along the lochside with the weather improving all the time.  Of the many images captured this is my favourite and in weather conditions, I didn’t expect to see after what happened earlier in the day.
 
Getting back to base each evening meant passing Loch Morlich.  Approaching the loch on the same evening as my visit to Loch Pityoulish I noticed some nice warm light from the setting sun catching the lower slopes of the mountains so I pulled over to see what opportunities might arise.  It turned out that the image to capture was not of the lower slopes but turning the other way to view the setting sun.  The only sunset I managed to see during my stay.  One of the golden rules of landscape photography is always to spend time having a good look around and don’t settle on the first view that you see and always look behind you.
 
The next day started with heavy rain and wind and I did not venture out until after lunch when I thought I would take the opportunity to drive further up the mountain to the start of the ski slopes. Virtually deserted but I suppose you should expect that when the snow was yet to arrive.  It was also very windy so I just sat and watched as the clouds rushed through creating ever-changing light. After a little while some sunlight started to break through and in doing so created the view below.  I decided to brave the high winds to capture the rainbow and its fainter “sibling” to the left with Loch Morlich in the distance below.
 
Another day a walk around Loch an Eilean, Loch of the Island, had not produced many opportunities until I returned from a rather long walk along the incorrect path.  I was looking for Loch Gamhna which I passed by without seeing and  was well on my way to Feshiebridge before I fully realised that I must have gone too far. Still, it was more good exercise.  When I eventually got back to where I should have been in the first place I headed around Loch Gamhna, Loch of the Stirks (young cattle) which was used centuries ago by cattle raiders as an access route to Strathspey.  In the hope that the main herds would be spared local folk tied a few cows to a tree beside Loch Gamhna. Just maybe its the tree on the left in the image. It certainly looks old and twisted enough to have been used that way.
 
After rounding Loch Gamhna I followed the western shoreline of Loch an Eilean back to my parking spot and this side of the loch provided a great view of the way the loch is so named.  In the middle of the Loch, on what may be a natural island, are the ruins of a small 15th-century castle.  Then the castle was connected to the shore by a causeway.  The causeway was lost when the water level in the loch was raised in the 18th century.
 
 
One of the highlights of the trip was the many images I captured to add to my Intimate Landscapes Collection so I thought I would end this review with just one of those and who knows I may even write another post dedicated to those images.  At least for now I have named this “Sand Tree” as I am sure you will agree there is very clearly a trunk, branches and maybe what you could say are leaves.  It reminded me so much of the many, many trees found in the Cairngorms.  Isn’t it just amazing what the sea and its tides can create?
 
Hope you have enjoyed it as much as I did capturing the landscapes to share with you.
 
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