For the last five days we’ve been staying at the Glenmore Forest campsite beside Loch Morlich. It’s a pleasant but rather odd campsite in that it feels like two different campsites or, at least, a campsite of two distinct parts. The larger part of it is more or less an open field with little seclusion whilst the smaller part is a series of more secluded woodland pitches within the tree-lined edge of the loch. We’d immediately chosen the latter – no contest.
Our position just a few metres from the sandy loch-side – yes, sandy, and I wasn’t expecting sandy beaches beside Scottish lochs either – gave Francine the opportunity to play both in the morning and evening without the need for staying sober enough to drive to and from locations, or for disturbing neighbours by moving our car about at unsociable hours.
Unsociable hours do rear their ugly head in some ways, though. Landscapers love to be opening their shutters in the hour before sunrise or after sunset – the so-called blue hour. Unfortunately, here we were spanning midsummer’s day in the frozen north of Scotland where the longest day is even longer, sunrise being ~04:00 and sunset ~22:15. It isn’t quite the land of the midnight sun but the sky stays light for an awfully long time. Francine did what she could without behaving too much like a vampire.
With the campsite being on the eastern side of the loch, the photographer’s viewpoint across the loch is mainly westward with the morning light, if there is any, behind the camera thus illuminating foreground features quite nicely.
Francine made a couple of evening visits after dinner. On her first visit she chose a view along the shoreline in a more or less southerly direction, this shows how much light there is at ~21:15. The sun is still up but is low enough to bring out textures in the rather unexpected (by me, anyway) sandy shoreline.
Her second evening excursion, slightly later,approaching 22:00, highlighted another Scottish problem. I was in Guillaume calmly enjoying a decaf espresso. A text message natter ensued along the following lines.
[me]: “What’s the view like?”
[me]: “Excellent. Do you want Guillaume’s bucket?” [Photographer’s trick for wetting rocks.]
[Francine]: “Go away and leave me to the midges for a few minutes.”
[me]: “Aaargh what?”
Apparently Francine proved irresistible and was being eaten alive. Prior to our visit I had invested in a couple of special midge hoods consisting of a very fine mesh to keep the little blighters out. The trouble is, as well as a net hood being less than the height of sartorial elegance, the necessary fine mesh rather makes photography impossible or, at least, damn difficult since one is effectively staring through the fog created by an obscuring net curtain. So, hoodless and unobscured, Francine suffered long enough to get a picture, then retreated to the relative safety of Guillaume. Some midges did get inside Guillaume but an electric insecticide vaporiser seemed to take care of those reasonably effectively.
Today we bad farewell to the midges of Loch Morlich and headed across Scotland for the west coast midges of Poolewe at the far end of Loch Maree. The 110-mile journey made Guillaume’s tug work hard for three hours because we were travelling more or less directly into a strong headwind. Still, at least that was better than a potentially dangerous crosswind, especially crossing the Kessock bridge at Inverness. We arrived and pitched up with good views of Loch Ewe in bright but decidedly cool conditions with winds gusting to 35 mph and a temperature of 12°C/55°F. Summer? Fortunately, Guillaume is basically nose into the wind so is not rock’n’rollin’ too much.
I felt sorry for folks arriving after us erecting tents in such conditions, though such activity did provide a perverse sort of afternoon entertainment.
West coast midges enjoy more fearsome reputation. Not in this wind, though.