Sunday, June 11, 2017

Wilds of Assynt

In the northwest of the Highlands the land becomes a bit more open and the mountains become more single mounts.  It is a wild landscape called Assynt.  It was here I made my third location to visit in the Highlands.

While the landscape looked intriguing so did one particular place, Ardvreck Castle.  A ruin on the edge of the lake and fairly close to the road.  It is one of many castle ruins to see in Scotland but something about it kept drawing me back to looking at pictures of it.

The haunted castle on Halloween
So when I finished my days in Torridon I made my way toward the castle.  I first stopped in Ullapool for food, fuel and a hot meal (eggs with smoked salmon).  Then with restocked provisions, I headed north under interesting clouds.  There were many place I wanted to stop but I was drawn to the castle as it sits along the dark waters of Loch Assynt.

At first my plan was to stay for a few hours and then head back to some mountains I wanted to photograph, but the light was great and the castle kept revealing different views to me, that I stayed and stayed right to sunset.

Wild Country of Assynt
My plan had been to drive another 30 miles to the Scourie campsite but with it being here on Halloween and it being a supposedly haunted castle.....I decided to stay into the night and photograph it.

So here I am alone, under brooding skies, at a haunted castle on Halloween.

This is fun!

As the night swept across the land and the darkness set in, I set up to make images of the castle in the dark.  At first I was photographing the castle across the water but then I went up to it, set up the camera on the intervalometer to do shots one after the other.  Then I set out to walk around the castle in the dark occasionally lighting it with my flashlight.

Brooding skies and rain
I did this until the rain started and I called it a night, retreating to the dry of my tent with no ghosts seen.

The next day dawned with sun and rain that I watched near Stac Polly.  Standing in the rain watching a sunrise is such a Scottish thing.  A day then spent hiking in the rain.  I started on the trail to Suilven but the constant rain made travel tough and hid the mountain again and again.  I decided better to find drier places and gave up on a 12+ mile hike.  This is something I need to consider overnighting the next trip.

After a day in the rain I welcomed the chance to camp at Altandhu and a hot shower.  Cooking Scotch Broth in the wind and rain and falling asleep to the wind, rain and crashing waves.

Suilven rises in the distance
I spent another day in the rain hiking in the wild hills of the northwest.  From a few forested areas to boggy moorland, to small lochs, and fantastically shaped mountains, this had it all.

Rainbows, clouds, wind, rain, fall color, red deer, brooding skies.  I saw it all.

Again, I found it an intriguing area and one that needed more time on a future visit.

I wrapped up my days in the north thinking three nights in an area was just not enough time and I should have stayed for three weeks.





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