I thought I’d end the year with a selection of memorable photos over the last twelve months. It’s great to look back on the year and remind yourself of the events and places that have stood out. While my blogging year ended very quietly – more about this in a future post – I’m actually surprised at the variety of things I’ve got up to.
January started with WildaboutScotland winning ‘Best Camping Blog’ in the 2016 Trespass Blog Awards. Further recognition came soon after with one of my posts that described a wonderful walk up through a cloud inversion (a local hill, Dumyat in the Ochils) featuring on WordPress Discover. That brought my blog to the attention of a global audience, with the post receiving the most likes and comments of any post over the last five years – including great comments from all corners of the world.
In February I took a ski holiday to Avoriaz with my son. The lift system straddles the French and Swiss border and on this gloriously sunny day we found ourselves skiing in France during the morning, having lunch at this mountain-top restaurant before dropping down into the Swiss side to enjoy some afternoon runs. My son loves skiing and for me it’s been a great way to do an activity together that we both really enjoy.
In 2014 I’d been bungee jumping with one of my neices at Killiecrankie. I think it’s fair to say she’s not that good with heights and while she successfully completed the jump she was extremely brave to go through with it. I was obviously far too chirpy and boastful after that jump since she decided to get her own back by buying me a voucher for a night bungee for Christmas … I duly booked my jump – alone! – in March and the picture shows me flying high, jumping 40 metres above the River Garry into the blackness. Killiecrankie is Europe’s only night bungee destination. It was a wee bit more nerve-wracking that a daytime jump but I loved it. I just didn’t love hanging upside down for a few minutes with the blood rushing to my head.
In late April I road tested a Jerba campervan and took it from Jerba’s factory near North Berwick across the Borders to Kirkcudbright in Dumfries and Galloway – you can read my review here. Having previously lived in the Borders it was a great chance to revisit some memorable places on my journey across country, including John Muir’s house in Dunbar, unspoiled Cove Harbour and Scott’s View overlooking the Eildons. As luck would have it, my long weekend away coincided with an aurora – on two nights! – as well as the Lyrids meteor shower. I managed to capture this gorgeous purple aurora, the first and only time I’ve seen this.
May saw me taking a sea kayak / wild camping trip with Kenny Lacey of Sea Kayak Scotland in the Sound of Luing. I really enjoyed the weekend and the chance to get excellent one-to-one coaching from Kenny. The picture showed our boats on the beach at St Mary’s Bay on the island of Luing, where we camped and enjoyed a fire at night.
I was occupied leading my Bronze Duke of Edinburgh group in early June but had then booked to go paddling again at Plockton at the end of the month. Unfortunately the trip was called off owing to high winds so instead I opted to spend the weekend cycling around Loch Rannoch. It was a blustery weekend with dark, brooding skies and big waves on the loch. I think this photo captures very well the contrasts; sunshine one minute then the threat of sharp showers the next.
The weather gods looked kindly down on me in July when I’d booked to visit Eigg for the first time. In fact, it was so hot and sunny that I came away with a rare Scottish suntan! I spent the weekend exploring: discovering the caves at Galmisdale, climbing An Sgurr, sunbathing on the squeaky Singing Sands and walking the circular route around Beinn Buidhe at the north end of the island. To top it off I enjoyed a cold beer at Laig Bay and watched the most amazing sunset over neighbouring Rum. It was just such a superb weekend.
Early September saw me take another long weekend to go walking and cycling in Assynt in Scotland’s far north west. I wild camped on top of Quinag, cycled to Lochinver and then climbed Ben More Coigach the next day. From its summit you get a real sense of this old, ‘elemental’ landscape formed on 3 billion year-old rocks that protrude sharply from around the rocky coastline. Assynt rightly deserves its place as an outstanding location for geology and wildlife – as well as superb walking and camping.
In November I witnessed the strongest aurora I’ve ever seen in Scotland. There was a slow but steady build-up that culminated in a jaw-dropping eight minutes where the northern lights lit up the sky, with pillars and moving curtains providing an amazing show. It was so strong and bright that this picture below was taken on only a 4 second exposure. And that is unheard of for Scotland …
So that was my blogging year, featured in some of my favourite and most memorable images.
I hope you’ve had a great year too, whatever you’ve been up to. Thanks so much for all your feedback and comments; I’ve certainly had some great times over the last twelve months and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about some of my adventures too.
Wishing everyone a very happy Christmas.