I was in quite a lot of pain after my exploits on Monday, so spent most of the day on some academic work before venturing out the following evening to catch the sunset on the west coast near Dunstaffnage Castle. This point lies a few miles north of Oban and access is made easier by the presence of a marine science complex. From the car park a short path led to a shingly beach with rocky arms to north and south. In my usual spirit of spontaneity (or lack of forethought, depending on your point of view!) I had not considered that the tide would be so full that the sea/rock interface was mainly pretty sheer! Thus it took a bit of seeking to find a spot where I could use the rock formation and the movement of the sea as an attractive foreground. The reader/viewer will have to judge the results! The haze to the west over Lismore and Mull certainly enhanced the sunset with some attractive cloud formations.
The following morning, Wednesday, I planned a dawn excursion to the other side of Loch Etive at Bonawe. Since this involved crossing the western end of the loch at Connel Bridge it is considerably longer by road than ‘as the crow flies’. As ever, I probably should have got up a little earlier, so found myself more or less where planned near an old jetty with little time to spare before the best dawn colours were likely. Unfortunately I had underestimated the effect of the mountain shoulder to the east which more or less blocked off the view north-east up the loch (i.e.: toward the sunrise itself!) In my anxiety not to lose the best of the light I made an unwise decision to scrabble up a low stone wall to work my way round the near high-tide to the next rocky point! As it turned out the shape of the rock here made a fantastic and unusual foreground with the added bonus of an old rusty mooring ring. Having got the shots I wanted, my problem was then to find my way back to the car… I did not fancy trying to get back down the way I had come, so followed what I thought was a path that would take me further round the extremely bramble, gorse and bracken overgrown promontory. Unfortunately I can only assume that this path involves walking along the shore at low tide, or that it has been made purely by those accessing this area by sea! It disappeared and I found myself stranded in a sea of hostile vegetation!
Fortunately this all turned out to be quite serendipitous. The easiest route out of the jungle of damp bracken behind the tangle of gorse and bramble turned out to lead toward the top of the headland. From here I was rewarded with fine views up, down and across Loch Etive, at the same time as the light was filtering from behind Ben Cruachan to the east. After taking several shots from this vantage point I found my way from the top back down to the road and to my car. I drove back down the loch toward Connel, stopping at the ruins and grounds of Ardchattan Priory, site of a 13th century monastic order founded by Duncan MacDougall, Lord of Lorn.
On Thursday I left early in the morning for an economics conference in Glasgow, but just after leaving the cottage in which I was staying I could see pre-dawn mist collected in the low ground between the road and Loch Awe and forming a foreground to the indistinct shape of Ben Cruachan to the North. I made a mental note to return to the spot the following morning if conditions were suitable. When I returned home and studied the map I noted with further interest that this mist had been obscuring two small lochs, giving the prospect of reflections!
Waking myself on Friday morning before dawn, the sky looked reasonably clear so I made the short drive up the road to reach the track leading to the lochs. The colour in the sky was increasing although muted by the mist and haze. There was rather less mist than I had noticed the previous morning but still a fair amount lying over the lochs. As this mist cleared and the sky became lighter I moved toward the loch edge and looked to use the reeds and other features as foreground.
In Kilchrenan, the sun shone in the afternoon, so for my final excursion I decided to try and explore the east shore of Loch Etive by walking north-east from Inverawe on the other side of the Awe river from Taynuilt. Unfortunately when I got to my starting point I realised that the morning’s haze had become fairly consistent low cloud, with only occasional breaks. The view I had hoped to get of the mountains at the north end of the loch was more or less non-existent. I debated alternative plans, but surmised that the haze and cloud would proably have pretty much the same effect wherever I chose to go, so persisted with my original intention. Whether photographically this walk produced great results I am not so sure but it was an interesting exploration of a fairly remote and very attractive part of the Southern Highlands.