Friday, 24 July 2015

Wonderful Scotland 2015 (Day 3)

THE holiday house where we stayed is surrounded by boggy peat moorland grazed by sheep and cattle.  It could be quite rich in flowers, but the stock tend to graze the sward hard.  The plants remain, however, just in a short, stumpy form.

The house's lawn was free of this pressure enabling half a dozen stunning northern marsh orchids to bloom.  Other orchids outside the plot were short lived; this lesser butterfly orchid, growing by the rough track leading to the tarmacked road, lasted just a few days.  Other species in a diminutive form, such as gypsywort with their pink flowers, provided frequent blobs of colour and we've seen loads of bog asphodel in the past, but these were only a few inches high.

Not a bad spot to start the day - lesser butterfly orchid
We drove to a local beach on our way out for the day and stepping off the road for a few yards went exploring.  This below is a view of the typical landscape of the area between the coast and the land west of Lochinver - there was noone else around enjoying the diverse flora and fantastic views.

The beach was breathtaking (literally).  A gaggle of fathers and small children were enjoying the shallow, clear water, whilst we clambered around looking at the rock pools and enjoying the morning sunshine.

A (green?) sandpiper called from the headland...

On the walk back to the car, through a narrow creek where the stream rushed to the sea, I was excited to see a globe flower - just one lonely, but wonderful blossom.  This is a rare relative of the buttercup that insists on living in the zone wheres its feet are wet most of the time.

Health spotted orchids are plentiful over the moorland across the region

Our main destination for the day was quite a long drive away, so instead we stopped off and repeated a valley walk, following a wide rushing river that cut a route through a hillside clothed in woodland and moorland.  It was quite a tiring route, which might surprise you, but was a wonderful walk.  

The area is frankly quite wet.  Where there nutrient is really leached from the soil it makes hard for some plants to grow, but other such as this sundew take advantage of that gap.

This butterfly was an early spot:


Along the path this large beetle won the battle with its lunch and was dragging it away somewhere...who'd a thought!

Climbing up out of the valley looking to the horizon this was the amazing sight, open moorland and a mountain clothed in white cloud:

A rather impressive waterfall was our destination - but we were too knackered to go any further:

It was a great day and on the return trip we stopped off in a lay-by to admire the view back from where we'd come:

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