Ardtornish Day 9

Strangely enough, even though we’re miles away from the nearest living soul, we can see the lights over on Mull and so Inninmore does not feel as remote as the bothy up in the mountains. Up there, there was no sound other than the wind but here you get the distant noise from the throbbing engines of passing ships and you can see cars driving along the opposite coast road. Yet all you need to think of is that the recent rains have washed away the cliff path that leads here, meaning that other than a long paddle on the kayak, we are cut off. I like the idea of that and when added to hearing news from my darling Sam, my better half, that snow is on the way, I was heartily buoyed.

So having woken before dawn, I set out across the bay to a small finger of rock that juts out into the sea. Here I settled myself behind my fishing umbrella and set up the camera to get some shots of the sunrise. The weather was ideal for what I wanted and out of the mizzle and chilled wind, I was well sheltered from the elements so I spent a good few hours clicking away and watching the clouds clear away.

The light here is quite unique. I have seen skies over St. Ives and they have an almost violet hue, yet up here, when the clouds do part, the winter sky is pure cobalt. Bright, intense and complimented by the colours of the rock and decaying, wintered foliage. We spent a day walking up into the cliffs behind the bothy. There are no tracks to speak of, only deer trails, so the going with a heavy back pack and two cameras was quite tough. Added to this the winter sunshine and it didn’t take long for us to stop and adjust or clothing. As I stood letting the chill air get to my sweat-soaked back, I saw a dark shadow chase across the cliff-face announcing our first proper sighting of a Sea Eagle.

Huge wings, that shimmered gun-metal grey as they caught the sun, lifted the great bird effortlessly, letting it lazily flap, soar and wheel along the cliff edge. It kept its distance and quickly crested and peak, so I could not get a shot but at least I’d seen one. I suggested to Allen that we should tether Charlie out in the open as bait but he failed to see the humour in this. He turned to Charlie and suggested he come over and bite me!

The day was brilliant I terms of weather, but when you see the shots, you’ll see what I mean when I say it was like shooting on a late summer’s day. The clear blue sky, bright sunshine and placid sea are great but not really what I’d envisaged in my Highland Winter shoot! I was thinking ice flows, arctic conditions and Allen walking out of the bothy into a frozen blizzard, saying “I’m going outside… I may be some time’. As proper British explorers do.

So imagine my excitement, when after going outside after supper for his obligatory roll-up, Allen came back in saying “It’s snowing!” I leapt from my chair and ran outside with my spirits soaring. And indeed it was trying to so I excitedly phoned Sam. She told me that down south was having very wintry weather and the weather forecasters were proposing three weeks of my much hoped for snow. But not until the weekend.
Never mind we’ve got ages yet, I said to myself.