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Four hours in Aviemore

Sunset at Loch Morlich, Glenmore Forest Park.

Having just spent the previous week suffering from some variant of the flu, cabin fever had well and truly set in by this weekend so, since I was definitely on the mend, I wanted to take a trip out of the house and not just within town.

Prior to succumbing to the flu I had hoped to have made a weekend trip through to Aviemore and Cairngorm. With Aviemore only 2 hours drive from Aberdeen my intention had been to leave mid morning on Saturday, camp Saturday night and then work my way home from around lunch-time on Sunday. This, I felt, would allow me sufficient time to do a bit of exploring as well as capture sunset, then sunrise (maybe some starry skies if clear) and have a few more hours exploring before making my home.

Well, the best laid plans as they say…

Reflections in Loch an Eilein, Rothiemurchus Estate

Instead, I found myself chasing Anna to make sure she was ready to leave around midday on Saturday for what would essentially just be an afternoon of walking and wandering wherever we found ourselves. We left Aberdeen under grey skies and a slight threat of some light rain showers. As we drove west through Alford and into Strathdon the cloud briefly broke with a little sun and blue sky to be seen. Next we ascended the Lecht and back into the cloud which would remain for the rest of the day.

The Lecht was new territory for me having never been over this particular road. It proved to be worthwhile purely as I had wanted to check it out for a future trip when I’ll be following a couple of friends on their road (pedal) bikes as they embark on the North Coast 500 cycle challenge (with another 200 miles thrown in for fun…). I’ll publish some more info on this (epic) trip (of stupidity, some might say) in due course so please check back!

Anyway, back to Aviemore. We arrived mid afternoon to find the same flat grey skies with not even a hint of sun! This wasn’t what I had hoped for!!

A lone Scots Pine on the shores of Loch an Eilein, Rothiemurchus Estate

We drove out to Loch an Eilein in the Rothiemurchus estate and (having paid our £3) walked the various paths and the loch shoreline. With the flat light and haze it was hard to really pick out much but with care and a nice easy walk opportunities did present themselves - it wasn’t as bad as I had initially feared. There was one bonus however, the high pressure that seemed to be keeping the cloud cover in place also meant there was no wind beyond a whisper. This meant that the loch was like a mirror so, rather than relying on the sun and a nice sky I was out hunting reflections.

Loch an Eilein, Rothiemurchus Estate

Walking through the woodland I also found some interesting shapes and textures from the ancient Caledonian Pines.

Caledonian Pines, Rothiemurchus Forest

As time wore on I decided a trip to the Cairngorm Ski car park would be worthwhile as it would let us see how the light would change (if at all) for sunset. With little change to be seen in the sky I took a couple of photos of the view just to have in the bag as it were. One composition that did catch my eye included a brief section of the road below as it wound its way through the muted greens, purples and browns of a countryside still under winters control.

Loch Morlich and the Rothiemurchus Forest

One last location to try as the sun dropped and the sky turned a muted blue with a few hints of red was the shore of Loch Morlich. I pulled the car over just west of the water-sports centre and dropped down to the shoreline where I had spied a series of small rocks and pebbles breaking the surface. So, I now watched what the sky would do - not much as it turned out, no breaks in the cloud, no dramatic last minute bursts of sunlight, just grey turning blue with a hint of red. So while there were no golden colours I contented myself with a couple of photos looking out over the glass like surface of the loch with the Cairngorm mountains reflecting perfectly in the mirror.

Cairngorm reflections from the banks of Loch Morlich