Autumn approaches…but not quite yet!



Back here at home we fully expected autumn to be in full swing.  True there are some hints of that rich autumn colour to come but really it is unseasonably green. Tree cover is still thick and that is despite some recent strong winds. In places it does seem rather spring like….


Whilst that is all true I do have to be honest and say that ‘out in the open’ the colour of the light has lost its warmth, only where the sun catches red colours does it gleam….


One noticeable exception to my comments on the trees and their leaf cover is the Ash tree….all Ash in our immediate area have dropped their leaves.  I suppose it is more noticeable with Ash as when the leaves drop it is overnight and virtual instant…blink and they have gone….


Elsewhere the sun still struggles to more than just cast shadows…shadows that get longer with each day.  Autumn approaches but slowly.


20th October

(C) David Oakes 2017


A Not so Black Isle…..


Chanonry Lighthouse, Fortrose, The Black Isle

Never has a name misled folk so much.  People who visit the Black Isle for the first time are surprised at this green and very fertile peninsular.  A Peninsular is what it is, above Inverness and stretching out to the North Sea between the Cromarty Firth and the Moray Firth.  We have visited many times and whilst we have always enjoyed good weather we do know that the area can be swept by gales and sever weather.

Those of you who live in the UK will be familiar with the Shipping Forecast a broadcast that is intended to warn shipping of bad weather….a regular name that does seem to crop up regularly is Cromarty Firth….usually with the warning of Gale Force winds.

But those of you who follow my Blog will know I regularly  feature post on a Wednesday of ‘My Favourite Places’…..  and the Village of Cromarty is, and  has been, one of those at the very top of my list…


Cromarty, the Village and Harbour

Cromarty is at the very tip of the Black Isle. Not sure why I love this spot so much, maybe it is because today it is relatively isolated and quiet. Yet at the same time it has enough character and people to make it interesting to explore.  There is a great little Museum in the Old Court House but to be frank I find the whole village to be a living museum. Of course like so many Scottish coastal villages Cromarty has seen better times.  Fishing (herring mainly) was one industry that has long gone.  Local grown Hemp was another, very successful weaving and rope making was a key employer in the town. During WW1 Cromarty and the Firth became an important Naval Base. Today the Firth is home to Oil and Gas Platforms, construction and Repair.  Despite all the changes Cromarty is a magnet for me…


The surroundings of Rosemarkie appear much softer.  Green grass covered sand dunes, pebble washed sand beaches and a small village welcome visitors…


The Bay offers great views over the Moray Firth and a magnet for walkers and Sea Angles and the views change with the tide and the Scottish weather..

It is though the Light House at Chanonry Point that is the biggest draw.



 Chanonry Point is a Dolphin Watch Observation Station….the narrow gap at the point between Chanonry and Fort George on the opposite side of the Moray Firth creates narrow gap for the tides and river waters to fight over. Seemingly ideal for Dolphins who love to play and catch their food.  Everyday at any time there are keen folk with binoculars and long lens  poised for the display.  Being very honest  I have to confess we didn’t even catch a glimpse of a fin….. though we have on past visits.

At the point there is also an small monument and plaque that leaves many a visitor with more questions than answers…. the monument marks the spot where someone met their grizzly end.

The Brahan Seer


Truth is often stranger than fiction or so they say.  But here we have a story that many believe over the years as being true…. yet disputed by others who have different interpretations of events, but even those leave more questions un-answered.

So let me précis what is both the most accepted and best recorded interpretation.  

A Seer is someone who can foresee events in the future.  For many they had established a reputation for accuracy.  This particular Seer had such a reputation and was employed by the Seaforth Family at their Braham Castle on the edge of the Black Isle. All went well until his prophesies turned rather bleak for the Seaforth Estate.  The Braham Seer predicted that this powerful and wealth family would befall several events that would spell misfortune and disaster for the family and the downfall of the Estate. The predictions were specific and started to occur.  Tradition had it that the predictions could be halted if the Seer was put to death….. and he was in a most barbaric manner.  Placed in a spiked barrel of boiling tar and set alight.  Chanonry Point was where the execution took place.  In theory this was in the 17th century but even that is disputed. But many did and still believe that the substance of the story is true and it is time that has adapted events.


Interested then this book may help. The ISBN No is 0 09 478460 4

What is true that in the Islands there are many who still think that there are those who can indeed see into the future.


Well…that is it….our Scottish trip has come to an end….over 34 days when the weather did its very best to please.  I hope you have enjoyed the journey.

19th October

(C) David Oakes 2017


A Surprise Garden…..




Osgood Mackenzie had a wealthy and generous mother. She bought him a rather large piece of ground on the shores of Loch Ewe close to Poolewe. That gift was the start of the creation of a wonderful surprise for this far north and on the rugged coast of Scotland. Taking advantage of the North Atlantic Drift (Gulf Stream) the area enjoys a climate that is just a little warmer.  So in 1862 the start of what is now know as Inverewe Gardens was made.

Even though our visit was early October the garden was still packed with colour….true the very best of summers herbaceous borders was fading and the autumn colours were not yet in full flourish but the garden still offered a colourfull display with a tropical flavour……so come along inside and share the pleasures…

The Gardens are now in the care of the National Trust for Scotland, and apart from the Christmas New Year Period, are open all year….


17th October

(C) David Oakes 2017


Further North ….. More Mountains, Sea and much more….


The Letterewe Range

Dawn and Buster and I headed off up the Leathad Daraich Pass to try and capture the sunrise.  No red sky to welcome this day but as the sun climber above Slioch and Meal Mheiiidh we caught those first rays of morning sunlight.

DOI_5160_00011aaatt A morning that just got better and better


Yesterday we had moved further north from Skye to Lock Ewe and Poolewe…trouble is on route you could be persuaded to pause to enjoy the ever changing scenery….


From Loch Dughaill in Strath Carron….


To Loch Maree in the shadows of a cloud kissed Slioch.


Loch Ewe

Our home for the next few days would be on the shores of Loch Ewe.  Tranquil today yet in the WW2 it was a ‘safe harbour’ and one of the main bases for assembling the Merchant Convoys that head to the frozen seas around Russia.


Poolewe was out temporary address. You can hardly describe the few cottages that are on the banks of the River Ewe as a village but it is still a busy centre for the outlying community.

This area of North West Scotland is just a touch different and very individual.  It is a mix of rocky bays giving way to smooth golden/ white sands.  Rugged headlands, gentle coves, hidden harbours, scattered crofts, thick wooded hillsides and glens, wooded with Beech and Oak and also of course Scots Pines, vegetation lush and at this time of the year just starting to show signs of autumns colour…..and the whole of this magnificent piece of Scotland is of course surrounded by mountains and in places tantalising glimpses of even more dramatic mountains further to the north. So lets take a whirlwind trip round loch Ewe and Area.


But Poolewe has one more surprise up its sleeve….but we will save that till tomorrow when we will have a taste of tropical paradise.

16th October

(C) David Oakes 2017