Autumn has been fairly crap this year. A combination of ex-hurricanes and a lack of frost has left the landscape looking a bit lifeless. I went out the other weekend to the The Trossachs, to an area which I had found in the summer and looked promising for autumn. It was bare. No leaves. Just a muggy morning of forlorn wandering, wishing I was back in bed. So imagine my surprise driving from Glasgow to Forres last week when I noticed that autumn hadn't been and gone, it was just happening in Perthshire and the Cairngorms. Swathes of golden larches jostling amongst the bottle green conifers. Delicate yellow confetti scattered in the birch woods and oak trees clinging onto russet red leaves. The only problem was that I was working, so I gazed longingly out the window all the way up (in between looking at the road) and decided to return on Sunday. The forecast was looking good for once.
I headed up very early. Cruising along the deserted A9, listening to the Russell Brand Podcast and trying to wrap my head around the concept that there may be a universal life force which transcends matter. Apparently if you teach rats a trick, then rats on the other side of the world will learn it as well through some interconnected pathway that we cannot see, feel or test. I was relieved that trees cant seem to do this, otherwise the Perthshire trees may have got the spiritual memo from the Trossachs trees and decided it was time for autumn to be over. My first stop was Loch of The Lowes. I pulled into the car park and got out, rummaging for food, jackets and rizlas. Frosty ground, dim dawn light. Calm everywhere until my shambling wander to the lochside disturbed a group of deer which darted about in mad panic, crashing into fences and then belting out the car park onto a golf course. A full moon hung over the hillside and I sat and watched the sun rise.
I wandered aimlessly around a frosty woodland/bog for a while and then headed to a spot which I had noticed a while ago - a stand of birch trees on the River Tay. My plan was for the sun to come up and light the top of the birches, catching the remaining yellow leaves against a dark backdrop of trees on the hillside. I scrambled down the side of a bridge abutment, under some jaggy bushes and made my way down to the river. On reaching the river I noticed there was a path under the bridge, but I got to be all Bear Grylls for a bit anyway. For once the image I had in my head turned out exactly as I planned. A nice feeling. I was there in plenty of time so could sit and wait for the light rather than rushing about trying to get set up while all the good stuff is happening. After this I decided to wander along the side of the A9 like some sort of photography version of Alan Partridge sauntering from a Travel Tavern to a Petrol Station. Lots of very nice bits of woodland along here and I took quite a lot of photos. Some of which I like. Back of the net.
The sun was now too high for any images so I toured around the back roads of Perthshire and saw many grand old Highland houses (at the end of drives, behind walls, enclosed by trees). I used to wonder who bought all the red trousers in The House of Bruar. Now I know. I drove on and up a hellish wee switchback road to a loch in the middle of nowhere with a small fishing hut beside it. Lets call it Stuarts Bothy. It’s a cracking spot, perched on the edge of the moor looking north to some pretty big hills with snow on them. Walking around the loch through the heather, waiting for the light to change was a bit like walking through a field of landmines. If you imagine grouse are landmines. Even after the fifth time of having one of these creatures dart out from under my feet I still jumped. Still wouldn't want to shoot one though.
Anyway, it was a grand day out. Here’s the photos.