31st October – evening at Loch Leven

Loch Leven (6)

What a difference a couple of weeks make.

We went back to Loch Leven on Wednesday, in the late afternoon this time, with an artist friend who is staying with us for a few days.    We took a walk around part of the loch, and waited for the sunset (which, now the clocks have gone back, is about 4.30 pm).

Greylag geese

Greylag geese

Thousands of wildfowl have gathered there, many of them on the water, but big flocks were also wheeling around in the sky.  We saw mute and whooper swans, teal, wigeon, shoveler, pintail, pochard and many more.   As the sun sank lower it appeared briefly through a gap in the clouds, turning the loch into liquid gold.   It wasn’t long before we could feel the cold creeping up from the water.

Path around the loch (2)

Shallow pools with the loch beyond

Path around the loch

We walked back in the dusk, with robins and wrens flitting about the bushes.  A couple of roe deer stared at us for a few seconds before leaping off through the trees.

After that one still evening (and a frost afterwards) it’s back to the wind and rain for us!

Loch Leven Oct 2014 106

Golden light

Loch Leven Oct 2014 67

Mosses and lichen

Scots pines

Loch Leven Oct 2014 78

Mausoleum dated 1865, in a graveyard with much older stones from the 17th century (very overgrown)

Mausoleum dated 1865, in a graveyard with much older stones from the 17th century (very overgrown)



Shallow pools with the loch beyond

Hazy sunset

Last glow

Whooper and Mute Swans

Whooper and Mute Swans


Photos copyright © Jo Woolf

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13th October – Loch Leven Castle

Loch Leven Castle (Jo) 24It’s all happening at the moment – we’re in the middle of our annual mailing, which means stuffing about 3,000 newsletters into envelopes.   We’ll be done soon!   Which means that, if you’re on our mailing list, you should get our newsletter dropping through your letterbox this week or early next.

But yesterday, because the weather was so beautiful and the autumn colours are starting to show, we abandoned it all temporarily and took ourselves off to Loch Leven.

Loch Leven Castle (Colin) 179On a small wooded island in the loch is the castle where Mary, Queen of Scots was imprisoned in 1567, while her baby son, James, was proclaimed king;   she escaped, disguised as a servant, in 1568.   But there’s a lot more to it than that, and I will tell you the whole story on The Hazel Tree just as soon as time allows!

Loch Leven Castle (Jo) 15Historic Scotland operates daily boat trips to Loch Leven Castle from April until the end of October, so we were just in time to get there before the end of the season.   And we couldn’t have picked a more beautiful morning, with mist rising towards a pale blue sky, and ribbons of mute swans gliding across the silky water.

Loch Leven Castle (Jo) 11I’m just going to share some photos for now, but I promise to tell you more soon.  This is one of the most atmospheric places I’ve visited in a long time.

Photos copyright © Colin & Jo Woolf

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11th September – Glen Coe, Glen Etive and Ballachulish

Glen Coe 21On Sunday we had a jaunt over towards the west, to Ballachulish and Appin, and our route took us through the wonderful scenery of Glen Coe.

We were last over that way in May this year, but the fresh greens are now tinged with gold and bronze.   The tourist traffic was out in force, with many cars and several coaches crammed into the few lay-bys along the Glen itself.

Glen Coe 11

Glen Coe leads eventually to Loch Linnhe which is a wide sea loch, and here we found a small pebbly beach to idle away a blissful hour.   It was warm in the sun, and the gentle waves seemed to be coming straight across from the blue hills of Morvern.

Ballachulish beach 73

Ballachulish beach 29On the way back, we decided to take a detour down Glen Etive, an offshoot of Glen Coe, which neither Colin nor I had ever been down before.   The road is a dead end, following the glen with its pretty waterfalls and woodlands for about 15 miles before culminating at the head of Loch Etive.

Glen Etive - Stob DeargIf the scenery of Glen Etive looks familiar, that could be because it was used in the filming of the latest Bond movie, ‘Skyfall';   it’s the location of Bond’s ancestral home, to which he and M flee from danger in his impractical but undeniably gorgeous Aston Martin.

I was looking through our photos and trying to work out where they took the iconic photo of Daniel Craig and Judi Dench posing against the backdrop of brooding hills, but I can’t quite work it out.   Anyhow, Colin invented his own movie, called ‘Bogfall’, when he leaped over a roadside ditch to photograph some moss.   The ground, as you may have guessed, welcomed him with ample squishiness and he spent the rest of the day with a very wet and very black leg.  I was photographing something else at the time, or else I would have got it on video.   Those waterproof trousers are higher up his list now!

Once again, we arrived back home with some lovely photos.   I wonder why on Earth we’ve never been down Glen Etive before!    It must be one of the most beautiful glens in Scotland.   We are truly lucky to have such spectacular landscapes within easy reach.

Waterfall, Glen Etive 20Waterfall, Glen Etive 32Grave Etive and Orchy - Jo 232Grave Etive and Orchy - Jo 205Grave Etive and Orchy - Jo 249

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