Glen Cannich without a canoe? Well, not quite. The canoe came with me, but with one thing and another I didn’t put it in the water.
The third day of my October trip to the Glen Affric area started with the rain and wind that had been promised by the changing skies yesterday evening. It was due to clear around the middle of the day, but to stay windier than previously, so I decided a leisurely start with a cooked breakfast in the camp site café was in order.
Suitably refreshed, I headed out as the rain began to settle, with the vague intent to travel up Glen Cannich stopping to get the camera out along the way and drop into Loch Mullardoch if conditions continued to improve. Glen Cannich is every bit as beautiful as Glen Affric but sees even less traffic. Other than the estate workers passing by occasionally I don’t think I saw another person.
My first stop was by a series of cascades just upstream from the farm at Muchrachd. There are plenty of other photography venues on the way to this point, but I have visited these several times before, but only been to the falls once. With the autumn colours and quiet low-contrast lighting, I was soon absorbed. Fallen birch leaves floating in an eddy caught my eye first. Droplets of the earlier rain still decorated them.
Working my way along the bank a stand of hawthorns acted as a windbreak. They were still carrying some leaf, and the birds hadn’t picked them clean of berries yet, the scatter of red acting as a nice counterpoint to the foliage.
Down below a small bluff where a fire ring stands under some sheltering trees, is the man part of the rapids. I spent a happy hour or so here, exploring the possibilities presented by rocks and moving water.
A brief shaft of sidelight turned a burst of spray into a shower of fireworks, lasting just long enough for me to compose an image.
Following the river downstream I paused again, setting the tripod up to allow slower exposures.
At last I felt like a change of scene so walked back to the car to travel up to Loch Carrie. A ford offers an easy crossing at the outfall of the loch, but I stayed on the north bank. By now the day had brightened, and the angled sunlight of a late autumn afternoon played across the tree-lined banks.
It enlivened the sides of the glen as well, so I turned the camera to face the other way to make the most of it. This shot is one frame, cropped to a letterbox format, rather than a stitched panorama.
As a result of all these stops, it was very late in the afternoon when I reached Loch Mullardoch. Initially I had crossed the river looking to park by the power station, as indicated on the OS map, only to have the gate across the road firmly locked ahead of me by the laird, who politely told me it was a private road. Despite the evidence of the map, I wasn’t going to win any argument, and contented myself with taking the other, undisputed, fork in the road towards the north end of the dam. Parking here appears to be unofficial but plentiful, with a short uphill walk and a brief scramble down to a beach. Having visited the south side in previous years and found a very rocky approach to the water, I’d say this side is probably the easier to manage with a canoe but could still be a challenge with a heavy boat.
Down on the shingle, there was a wind and wave-driven expanse of driftwood, weathered silver by the elements. Their pale colours picked up a blue tint from the shady evening light which I rather like. Composed mostly of stumps of scots pine, the twisted forms were the most alive-seeming bits of dead wood I have come across.
In places the remains of in situ trees poked above the gravel.
The wind had dropped a lot through the afternoon but was still blowing steadily down the loch from the west. By now it was nearly sunset, so after a last look westward I decided the boat would stay on the roof of the truck, and I would find a location to shoot the end of the day.
The tail of Loch Sealbach gave some beautiful reflections. Another crop, the proportions of the frame were chosen to emphasise the main subject.
But it was back at Loch Carrie that I found my sunset shoot. Nothing dramatic, but a very gentle, peaceful slide into twilight.
So, a day without dipping a paddle, but a very enjoyable day none the less. Loch Mullardoch will have to wait for another visit.