Thursday, 23 July 2015

Wild Assynt

The jagged ridge of Stac Pollaidh
While surveying birds in the Highlands, one the extra joys is the magnificent hillwalking that, well just has to be done in such stunning scenery.

Pillars abound in these sandstone hills
I was in the Assynt hills last week and grabbed the best day of the summer for a great walk over one of these relatively small hills. They might be small, but each hill in the area has its own particular character and they pack an amazing variety of landforms into this quiet corner of the north west Highlands.

Sgurr an Fhidhleir points high into the sky
There is so much to explore, around every corner or over every bluff that I don't need to describe where I went. It's all great fun. One of the best experiences in walking these hills is to discover their secrets for oneself. There are landscape-scale features such as the impressive peaks, but take time to look at the finer lines, the hills are covered with little details which mirror the grander features.

A golden eagle added its shadow to the landscape
Then to add cream to the scene; I was walking along a ridge, carefully watching my feet, when a shadow drew over my path. I knew straight away that there was an eagle above, what else could have cast such a shape. And sure enough, I looked up and there was an adult male eagle displaying in deep dives as it cruised along the updraught from the ridge.

The day was already one of my best in the hills this year, now it was probably the best.

Suilven in the evening light
I stayed in the hills til evening, watching the rocks change colour in the sinking west coast light, until I had to finally turn my back on them til next time.

As ever, the trick to any good day is to be there, be out there, do something, do anything, then every once in a while a special day comes.

A wild west sunset