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Ardtornish Day 25

I woke at 6.30 to rain and wind hammering on the bunkhouse roof and wondered what the day would hold. I got up and within fifteen minutes the sky had cleared and the wind dropped. So I put the gear into the car and headed off for the track down the side of Loch Aline. As I was looking at the fabulous scenery, the radio news reported people getting stuck on the M6 that was closed overnight due to heavy snowfalls and went on to predict further travel upsets as the big thaw set in.

My thoughts turned to the trip back down south and a few niggling doubts entered my mind. I am right at the final stages of selling my house in Essex and moving to Cornwall. Next week will see me exchanging contracts on Tuesday and sorting moving dates, internet connection etc. etc. The last thing I needed was to be caught-up in the floods that are predicted in and around Lancashire. So I made the decision there and then that this would, through necessity, be the last day of our Highland Winter adventure and we'd set off for home tomorrow morning.

With mixed feelings I noticed the towering clouds over Ardtornish start to turn salmon pink with the rising sun. I rounded-up the gear and set-off down the slippery jetty leading out into the loch. As I panned around and set the framing, two swans that were feeding on the margins looked up and started to paddle over. As a hailstorm swept the distant hills and the clouds continued to blushso they sat centre frame on the gently rippling, mirrored surface and they made my 'swan-song shot'.

Looking back at the last 25 days of scouring the Highlands, I am so pleased with the results of this visit to Ardtornish. I know we were incredibly lucky with the weather and while we did not get snow in the low ground, this drove us up mountains and up-country, in-so-doing we got to see some spectacular scenery and take some shots I am really pleased with. It turned out that we need not have loaded the kayak as, due to Charlie being a wimp rather than a salty-sea-dog, we could not venture out. Other than that, every piece of equipment we loaded got used at some point. The outline plans I'd made regarding the visits to the various bothies worked out exactly. The weather conditions for each were perfectly suited for the surroundings and helped set-up our adventures. They also made for some imagery that I hope captures a little of the spectacular scenery and atmosphere up here in this gloriously unspoilt part of the Scottish Highlands.

I am so very thankful to Hugh who got the wheels in motion and has offered continued support, and to Alan, Mac and the team on the estate who catered to our every need. I hope that my images help to illuminate the new website and promote Ardtornish as a year-round holiday venue.

I've also got to give a huge kiss to my darling Sam who let me off the leash for a whole month. Skype is great but I can't wait to see her smiling face in the flesh - even though she just said that with my beard I look like Bill Oddie! And there was I thinking Sean Connery in The hunt for Red October!! Apparently a shave is required before I set foot through the door.

As for those of you who've been following my website picture updates, blogs, tweets and facebook posts, I'd like to say thank you for the kind messages and your continued support. I hope my images have given you an insight into the beauty of the Highlands. Please do me a favour and tell your friends about my website and the Highland Winter gallery. And remember, if you're ever looking for an inspiring, relaxed and remote Highland retreat, Ardtornish has it all. www.ardtornish.co.uk