Posted by: brigid benson | February 20, 2012

Highland hame

Conserved Scottish wilderness   sporting estate     fire and ice

Back in Scotland. I’ve been staying for a few days in the conserved wilderness of a remote sporting estate where herds of deer roam, pursued in season by stalkers.

I wasn’t there for the stalking, I was in pursuit of pure mountain air and big space. The scenery is huge, dramatic and it forces itself upon you;  I thrill to the power of nature in these surroundings. Here is just a glimpse.

I find this scenery awe inspiring

From the russet of the open hills to the secret damp shade of mossy places where few feet tread.

Nature's soft carpet

I am intrigued by this ‘sculpture’ – an artwork to me –  of trapped rock and trees.

Taken prisoner

Lodges on the estate are the former homes of gamekeepers and stalkers


Vehicles used by modern stalkers look to me like something out of James Bond! Long gone are the ponies that carried dead deer from the hill to the deer larder.

Can't help thinking of James Bond!

After a day on the hill, nothing beats an evening around a campfire under starry skies, with the landowner’s permission, of course.

Singing songs, telling stories; all part of the great escape

And sometimes a little local spirit is imbibed!

Uisge beatha: water of life

Meanwhile back at the deer larder, heads have been cleaned and antlers sawn off…

Skull and antlers

Mossy green antlers

Ponies, traditionally used to carry the deer from the hill to the larder, are now used for hacks into the middle of nowhere. Park them and enjoy a picnic.

Pony park

Winter is especially magical when the great Scottish lochs freeze over. Play a simple version of curling, skidding stones across the ice to see who lands their missile furthest.  Launch your rock badly and it bounces, crashes through the ice and is lost with an eerie splosh that resounds in the silence of the mountains.

Frozen loch, scattered rock; paying hommage to the winter olympic sport of curling

In the frozen heart of winter it’s almost impossible to imagine wild fire raging in summer, zigzagging across heather and moor, yet these firebeaters are sobering reminders of the deadly threat.

Fire beaters

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