The third day of my October trip to Glen Affric promised to be another good day on the water, though without the mirror calm of the start of the week. A breeze was set to pick up through the day, and cloud cover and some drizzle blow in.
Arriving at my put-in at the carpark by the narrows of Loch Beinn a’Mheadhoin, the morning light was bringing out the vibrant yellows of the birch foliage. Quickly afloat, I crossed the strait to the southern shore, and found this beauty standing proud at the head of the beach.
While the water wasn’t as still as it had been on my visit to the loch two days before, it remained a very pleasant day to go paddling, and the light on the landscape was subtle and ever changing as the patchy cloud blew over.
Along the water’s edge there were many eroded pine stumps. Most, like this one, looked to have been felled, presumably with the creation of the dam. Their dead roots still gripped the rocky foreshore as time weathered the wood. I enjoyed the curves of the roots against the angular rubble, and the contrast of the bleached wood against the peat-stained water.
The clear air gave excellent visibility and a sparkle to the water as it reflected the blue of the sky. Cotton wool clouds passed overhead, their shadows dancing over the landscape. Enjoying the conditions, I paddled on towards the sunlit island on the north shore.
Having worked upwind for a while, I took a breather on the lee of the island. The sheltered water gave me reason to reach for the camera as the birch woods on the shore were reflected below my hull.
Refreshed after my break behind the island, I set off westward again, drawn on by enticing light on the horizon hills.
Having travelled some way towards the head of the loch, I decided to turn away from an increasing wind, and head back towards the shelter of the narrows.
The islands on the loch were heavily wooded, and the trees were in full leaf, resplendent with colour. With the stronger wind blowing down the loch, I found it quite hard to hold the boat in position to make this image, but the quality of the light made the effort worthwhile.
Exploring the nooks and crannies of the shore brought me to a hidden cove round the back of an island near the put-in. Very sheltered, it was an ideal place to stop to stretch my legs. I spotted this composition as I got out of the boat.
Having explored the head of the loch in the morning, I went through the narrows to the east side of the isthmus on the south shore to find some shelter for lunch. The long inlet on this side lead to a small bay where I sat for a while, soaking up the atmosphere.
I returned from my lunch stop through the calm of the narrows. I decided to try the classic paddle shot. Holding a heavy DSLR far enough over the side to get the image and not following it out of the canoe was quite a challenge!
Even though the afternoon was drawing to a close, I wasn’t ready to leave the water. I knew this was probably my last day’s paddling this week. The wind was forecast to be gale force for rest of my stay in the area, so I crossed the loch again and explored along the shoreline.
These glorious birches demanded my attention, and I landed to make an image and enjoy a final cup of tea on the far shore.
Refreshed, I explored the foreshore for a while. Procrastinating and wanting to delay the end of the day, I found some weathered pine stumps at the top of the beach, and spent a while finding images around them.
Finally, I had to go, making the short crossing back to the put-in with some reluctance. I could console myself though that I had squeezed everything I could from the weather window. To round off the day, I visited the River Affric once more, on foot this time, and made some slow exposures of the rapids as the light faded to dusk.
I returned to the campsite happy and relaxed, content with my time on the water and the images I had made. Strong winds, gale force and more at times, prevented paddling for the rest of the week, but I had been gifted three rare days of landscape perfection.