Loch Maree and Slioch

IMG_9074A few days ago, while driving along the shore of Loch Maree, we stopped at the rocky knoll which has always intrigued me, halfway along the loch at the Bridge of Grudie.

It’s guarded by a copse of ancient Caledonian pines, which stand out in the otherwise bleak and barren open ground of the glen. Here you are confronted by one of the most dramatic views of the formidable Slioch, as you pass through under the trees, over the old stone bridge and suddenly find it towering above and ahead of you, just across the loch.

IMG_9119It’s the sheer scale and immediacy of it, the steep verticals of its upper sandstone slopes rising from the far loch-side like an impenetrable fortress, which takes ones breath away.

All along the loch-side are the scattered remains of an ancient woodland of Caledonian pine. The islands on the loch and in the nearby Beinn Eighe Nature Reserve (Britain’s very first) still support one of the most ancient and least disturbed areas of native pinewood left in Scotland.

Its boggy shores and slopes are lush with mosses, lichens and heathers and home to huge numbers of red deer. There is an almost primeval feel to the whole glen, its history steeped in myth and legend.

It takes no great leap of imagination to sense this.

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IMG_9092 I stumbled upon this mini moss/heather-landscape on the top of a big boulder as we walked along through the bog.

A lone pine stands sentinel (below), like many others scattered along the glen, dwarfed by the mighty Slioch, but again, the camera lens can’t resist playing with scale and takes such delight in fooling the eye!

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