Saturday 15 November 2014

A Colourful Half Hour in Strathspey

View over mist-filled Strathspey to the Cairngorms

Recent days have been dull, grey and wet - typical November in fact. The ground is sodden, the colours are rapidly leaving the trees. There's no snow and no frost. The chill is that unpleasant damp-cold that comes when the temperature is a little above freezing and the air is very humid. There's nothing sharp about it, nothing stimulating or refreshing. This is weather for sitting by the fire with a good book and a glass of malt whisky.

The first colour, the first mist, the magic begins

Sometimes though there can be a flash of colour and excitement, a brief interlude in the gloom. When such change does come advantage needs to be taken as it may only be brief, as it was late this afternoon (which means around 3.30 pm at this time of year). Looking out I could see a touch of brightness on the Cromdale Hills with curls of mist starting to form down in the valley below. A hint, maybe, of a fine sunset to come.

The first colour in the sky

Grabbing cameras and binoculars and donning jacket and boots I headed out. The wind had gone. The air was chilly but absolutely still. Squelching through the meadows I could see the sky turning peach and yellow above the distant Cairngorms as the sun sank into bands of thin cloud. Below the mountains the mist was thickening and growing.
On the edge of the mist

As the sky became red and orange the mist rose up to meet me. I tramped down the meadows towards the forest and the air grew hazy. Tendrils of mist were snaking around my legs. The mountains faded, trees looked insubstantial. The world shimmered.

Colour in the sky

I turned away, not wishing to enter the damp greyness I knew lay below, and followed the edge of the mist before climbing back up the meadow, just a few dozen metres of ascent taking me from haziness to sharpness. The sky in the northwest was now ablaze with bands of colour.

The last burst of colour before darkness

The colours intensified, the land darkened, as I watched the last of the sunlight on the thickening layers of clouds. Then the light began to fade, the sky grew dark, the colours shrank and grew pale. I turned and headed for home. The whole episode had only lasted half an hour. But what a wonderful half hour it had been.


  1. Stunning photos Chris. Wonderful. I often have to remind myself that landscape is not just about "the land", but the skies too. So even when in a gritty urban environment, I can look to the skies and see nature, if you see what I mean. Or when in the hill-less Fens in East Anglia, the skies are big, broad and beautiful.

  2. Lovely set of images Chris. Hope you dont mind me asking but trying to work out where you took them from? Mark Hamblin

    1. Thanks Mark. I took them in the area a couple of kilometres north of Castle Grant, a short walk from my home.

  3. Hard to believe there are still such beautiful places in the UK, devoid of masses of people.