A year without a trip to my Nice Place™ just wouldn’t be a year. It had to be done – in a moment between lockdown and further covid-19 restrictions, I nipped up to Glen Affric for a few hours.
Some intimate landscape views:
I also flew the drone around a bit. Lovely light, getting a better overview of the extent and distribution of the Caledonian Forest, river, mountains and haze into the distance.
Some years ago, I had visited the glen in the middle of winter, with temperatures a degree either side of freezing, thawing slightly as the morning progressed. I was struck by a pattern of foam flecks on the water – particularly with a fine layer of ice just millimeters below the surface, over which the foam flowed. It moved so slowly, an abstract pattern messing with my eyes trying to work out how it moved. And I was surprised, because a couple of hundred yards upstream, the river had just travelled over a couple of waterfall cascades – so where did all the energy go? With a little thought, the river changes from wide yet rapid to deep and slower, with a yet deeper central channel in a V-shape.
This time, I flew the drone over the same mouth of the river, looking straight down onto the surface. This perspective makes the patterns of the foam all the more apparent – not just a difference between the central streak flowing faster, but a semi-regular pattern in the pattern against the far bank – indicating submerged boulders.
Unlike previous years’ visits, where I gravitate toward early mornings, this time I had arrived late in the afternoon, with just enough time to fit in a stroll before the light faded.
The light faded.
My favourite trees looked really rather pleasant in softer light, part-silhouetted against the sunset:
Then, in conventional fashion, night fell. I’d never been up at the Nice Place to watch that happen before, but it was magical. I stood at the famous viewpoint near the memorial, watching the clouds skimming overhead from the north as the moon rose – with Jupiter and Saturn nearby, and noticed a moon-dog aka paraselene – the first time I’ve seen such a thing, an analogue with a sun-dog during the day.
Finally, with night thoroughly underway, I made a photo of the well-known view looking along the length of Loch Affric toward the mountains of Kintail in the west – the landscape bathed in moonlight, all cool blue with the barest hints of structure and even less colour in the otherwise reddy bracken.