Skye 2013: Coire Lagan, Glen Brittle. Glaciers long gone, sunsets, and stars.
It's March, and once again we are back on the beautiful Isle of Skye.
I really like this time of year, the days are getting longer but it is still very much winter. The landscape shows it, snow capped mountains, frost and frozen lochs. Plant life is still very much dormant, its winter colours of browns and golds, and the deep reddish purple of the heather. All perfect for photography.
It is a fine clear day, the goal is to follow the path from the campsite by the beach at the road end of Glen Brittle, heading up across the tussock and heather to Corrie Lagan. The climb is steady and there is warmth in the sun but the air is icy cold, from the east. This flow of cold continental air has prevailed for much of the winter, bringing snow falls to the eastern side of Great Britain but at the same time holding back the warmer moist weather coming in from the Atlantic in the west.
As a result it is remarkably dry and firm underfoot, the mountains shelter us from the worst of the wind apart from the occasional biting gust.
The air is superbly clear. The mountains seemingly growing ever higher as we reach the final part of the walk at the bottom of the waterfall just below the corrie. Looking up the rock shows signs of the glacial forces that have been at work here.
Rounded and curved, the bedrock has been polished by eons of ice slowly moving from the corrie, where the snow collected, over the rocky lip and off down the valley towards the sea below. Today the glacier is long gone, but the rock still lays bare and smooth.
There's only the stream which drains the small loch in the corrie which flows over the rocks now and this morning its frozen. Liquid water can be seen and heard flowing below the transparent surface. Now and again there's the sound of ice sliding down the rocks shattering at the base as the sun warms the dark rocks.
An hour later the frozen waterfall will be gone.
A final bit of scrambling and the loch is finally in sight. Surrounded by a semi circle of high peaks it is a beautiful place.
Then a thought crosses my mind, we haven't seen another person all day. There's no one else here but me, Marian, and Polly the dog. Out of the 7 billion plus humans that live on this planet we call Earth, we are the only three here. (Well Polly thinks she's human!!) The only ones to see the mountains and the snow reflected in the partially frozen loch. We have it all to ourselves and we just enjoy sitting enjoying the quiet, what a magical place.
After the mandatory picnic, time for a bit of exploring and photograph taking.
I come across this jagged boulder sitting alone, the ice polished rock beneath, deposited as the last ice age ended and the glacier melted around 10,000 years ago I suppose. It has areas of blue colouration reminiscent of the deep water in the fairy pools of Corrie na Creiche.
Its shape makes it appear as thought it is reaching out, back towards the higher peaks from whence it came. It sits there lonely, destined never to return. Will the ice ever return and carry it further on its journey, or will it simply weather slowly, slowly away to dust......
The geology is fascinating all around. The bed rock has fissures where inclusions of other type of rock are plainly visible.
The sun is getting lower as the afternoon wears on and the temperature is starting to fall. My fingers are getting cold and it is time to start heading down. Descending over the ice polished lip of the corrie we are soon back on the path.
As we descend we pass six deer, of the red variety I think. I spot them as they cross the track about a hundred metres ahead. Normally they are very timid but today they seem very calm and stop and watch us as we watch them. Then they move slowly up expertly blending into the landscape and disappearing as we continue down.
Dark clouds suddenly loom over us from behind the mountains and there is a brief flurry of snowflakes. At the same time the sun, now lower in the west, continues to shine.
A welcome warm cup of tea back at the car and a spectacular sunset, what better way to end the day?
How about the brightest starry sky I've ever seen in the northern hemisphere. Magic.
Keywords: Glen Brittle, Isle of Skye, Scotland, Tony Crossland Photography, glacier, mountains, rock, snow, stars, winter
Great Photos and Blog as usual, looks very peaceful on the mountains.
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