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Friday, March 05, 2010

Touring Scotland - Get Far and Away

Early August, cool and spotty showers.  A typical day in Scotland, so I'd been told.  Plenty of mud on both sides of the single-track from bouts of rain sweeping through the glen, but that didn't stop many from pulling off to the side to sling on their backpacks and trek across the fields of tall wet grass to the hills.  Glen Etive, one of the more remote Glens in this magnificent country.

I pulled my little rented Vauxhalle Astra off to the side near other vehicles, to do some walking on my own.  I wasn't going to overnight here on this day, I'd already reserved a pitch at a campsite in Kinlochleven.  Laundry facilities available there, and I was in need.  But now, I was off enjoying the breezes and cool afternoon weather, far from tours and mobs of visitors. 

This is the way to see Scotland - at your own pace, away from the crowds, into the hills - get to know the land, its wildlife, its people, its history.  Immerse yourself.  Get far and away.

Driving the single-track roads are not nearly as difficult as the first-timer might fear.  Just stay alert to any oncoming vehicles (and animals that might be in the roadway!), and make sure that you use the pullover on the LEFT when letting the other vehicle pass.  If the oncoming car is near and the pullover is on the right, stop on the left by that one and allow the other car to go through that layby and you can pass one another.  Make sure you wave to the other driver, it's the polite thing to do.  

It won't take long before you're able to judge distance and speed, and when you see an oncoming car and a passing spot between you and him, you'll be able to pace yourself to the other car and  to get to a passing spot at the same time and neither of you will have to come to a stop.  Single-tracks are a lot of fun, I really enjoyed them.

There's a large herd of red deer that reside in Glen Etive.  Red deer are similar to North American elk, but smaller.  Such regal animals!

 

When I saw them this day, the stags were in one group and the hinds in another.  They would pause and look up at me now and then, but I did not approach too near, not wanting to disturb them.  They calmly went about their business, not much bothered by my presence.

One of the very best things about leaving the car behind and getting out afoot over the hills and through the glens, apart from the wildlife, is coming upon old remnants of structures.  I came upon this one well down the glen.  These livestock pens don't look like they've been used in quite some time, but probably have fairly recently - judging by the tin additions to the old stone walls.  There's lots of things in these hills, the more you look the more you'll see.

The single-track road dead-ends at the bottom of the glen, at Loch Etive.  I dare say no tour bus will take you down here. 
 

As you wander by car and on foot, take time to notice the little things.  While monuments are grand to look at, many of the little things make the best memories.  Sometimes, the little things make the best paintings.
At the bottom of the glen  and right after a rain, I came upon this pair of geese on the road.  One paused for a drink in a puddle as its mate looked on.  I managed to pull out my camera and snap a picture before they continued on their way.


It's a little gray and moody though, isn't it?  Still, I loved the picture and the interaction of these two geese.  Once back home again, I knew it would be one I would have to paint.  I took some artistic liberty though and brought sunshine into the scene, and reduced the road to a gravel path.

I think it's a bit more cheery this way.

3 comments:

SquirrelQueen said...

Your photos are beautiful. That's the way I would like to see Scotland, it sounds like a wonderful adventure.

Thanks for following, I am following you as well.

Have a great weekend,
Judy

Julie Thompson said...

Thank you for the follow, Judy. Yes, it was an amazing three week adventure, one that begs repeating. I did this one solo, but hope to go back in 2012 with teenage boy in tow. He'll be ready to take on the Cuillins then.

Pleasant weekend! :)

Maria Laura Kinard said...

Amazing work seriously!