Another favourite drive – Glenshee in winter

Here is another addition to the quest to list the best driving roads in Scotland. What makes it even more special is this road can deliver a fix of snow-covered landscape when there has been little to go around in the lowlands.

Road looking down through snow covered mountains.

The A93 through Glenshee takes you close to the top of a Munro (the Cairnwell) and through the Glenshee Ski centre making it a candidate for one of top drives in Scotland. ©Mhairi Carroll

Realising that we were approaching the end of winter and had not had a snowfall we were desperate to get to somewhere that had. The A93 is a quick way to get into the high snow-covered mountains. At just over an hour from Perth the road from Blairgowrie to Braemar passes high through Glenshee and the ski centre there. It comes within a few hundred feet of the top of a Munro (mountains over 3,000 ft), the Cairnwell in the Cairngorm National Park. This and the Cairngorm mountain itself are probably the only easily accessible mountains from the road in the National Park.

The picture above is the of the road heading back down the hill towards the small village of Spittal of Glenshee. In front is the summit ridge of Creag Leacach – another Munro listed mountain.

Snow hares are easily spotted abounding these hillsides. It therefore would pay to be ready with a longer focal length lens.

White snow and a white snow hare is just able to be seen

Look closely to see this snow hare creeping past in Glenshee. ©Paul Carroll

Here is one quickly trying to creep past as we prepared to take the shot above. Alas a wide-angle lens didn’t get a close enough shot.

Further along we watched a herd of stags. This is fantastic access to wildlife from the road.

Actually, a thing to bear in mind is that to keep the road clear the snow plough will push piles of snow along the side. Bear this in mind as it means your first steps off the road are likely to be into deep snow. This is a lesson I forgot and a short step quickly filled my boots with snow. Thankfully, I had spare socks.

Another lesson to remember is that snow will fool your camera to thinking it is brighter than it is and render all that white as grey. It is normally a good idea to add  +1 exposure compensation to take a reading.

Previous posts on the best roads in Scotland may or may not feature the A93 at all nor place it high up the list but if you want to make a distinction based on the season then for a road for a snow-covered alpine like experience in Scotland the A93 through Glenshee must be a contender.

Here are the previous posts on the best driving roads.

Scenic drive suggestions for touring around Scotland

The best roads in Scotland part 2

What is the best road in Scotland

More suggestions are welcome and we will keep adding to the list. Maybe an option is to start to think about different roads for different seasons.

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Upgrading our website is an oily rag of a job

Upgrading software might be replacing the annual car service for the masses. I no longer know or want to know what goes on under the bonnet of a car so I rely on professional mechanics to sort out the annual service and MOT. Now instead for some reason I am learning what goes on under the bonnet of our website to carry out annual maintenance tasks and upgrades. It is a sign of the times that a lot of us have replaced weekends with oily rag and spanner with Search Engine Optimisation audit and upgrade to responsive design websites for our work or leisure pursuits. Ah the information age.

We use PhotoShelter as our website service and on the whole its pretty easy to work with. However, it had not kept pace with the design requirements of the tablet and smart phone viewing experience. No fear  - the developers at PhotoShelter have introduced a new “Beam”  website and provide one click from their classic interface (actually still the current for most) to the new Beam interface ( still in Beta test version).

As, according to our google analytics feedback, approaching half of the photography and art audience now view our website on a tablet we ought to change. It is not as one click as the company say but as it is important to keep up with the times I decide to go ahead with the upgrade. It is still a beta test service from Photoshelter so some of it is still not as good as I would like but you do get to swipe through the images on a tablet.

Anyway, my apologies if some of the links to embedded images need fixing and some of the text looks to point you in the wrong direction (e.g. see menu on left, which is now above etc). It will take me a while to go through it all. Perhaps changing the oil was more fun that this.

If you have a look at the site , especially Mhairi’s new Woof in the Wool collection and want to offer some advice it will be gratefully received. Mhairi’s new artistic venture will be a major feature of what we are doing this year. I aim to have the website all spruced up by the end of the month for the new exciting year ahead.

five dogs made from needle felted wool sit in  a row.

The Woof in the Wool – needle felted animals pictured in scenic settings. Here five breeds of dogs in a row show just some of the animals Mhairi is creating. ©Mhairi Carroll 2014

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Introducing sculpting with wool

Mhairi is great at making things. This year she has started producing life-like animals out of the process of felting wool. I am blown away by how lovely they are. We have several around the house now and they are so life-like they almost take on personalities.

Range of felted animals including a fox, sheep , dogs and hares.

Here is a growing collection of felted animals enjoying a crisp winter day on our window ledge. ©Mhairi Carroll

These are not easy to do and each one takes between 7 and 10 hours to produce.  Mhairi has paid particular attention to getting the dimensions correct as well as the facial features. The two border terriers in the front are virtual mini versions of our own two Borders.

Tow felt sculptures of border terriers standing together on part of a log.

Two Border Terriers in felt creation by Mhairi ©Mhairi Carroll

Dougal and Dillon, our pet Borders, sat staring at these for a while. I would love to know what they were thinking looking at these minute versions of their breed of dog.

The process involves using a barbed needle and 100% wool fibre and through the felting process i.e. pushing the needle in and out of the wool to knit the fibres together, combining wool of different colours to give realistic variations in the coat of the animal  and shaping parts around a wire frame.

Its a craft which is hugely popular in Japan and the USA. Some artists are able to offer a portrait service to pet owners where their felt creation is indistinguishable to the real thing.

The range of animals Mhairi can do is growing. The other characters so far include sheep, foxes and hares. Enough to get a farm collection going.

A white sheep with a black face made from felt sitting on a window sill.

Felted sheep with black face. ©Mhairi Carroll

Three felted foxes in a group. Two are at the back standing on a log.

Family of three felted foxes. ©Mhairi Carroll

The Hare is a popular animal in the felted world. When looking on the internet for felted animals the Hare seems appear more than others: one winning a national arts and craft competition. Here is one of ours from the window ledge.

A felted Hare sitting on a small log.

One of the felted Hares. ©Mhairi Carroll So we welcome your feedback and suggestions of favourite animals.

They can rage in size from ten to twenty centimetres.

This is the start of diverging from a largely photography driven blog and website. We hope you enjoy the photographs though. Mhairi would appreciate any feedback on the animals as she is thinking of producing them for sale. We are also keen to explore art and craft in the widest sense to combine our love of the outdoors in Scotland with a variety of ways of representing it visually.

The picture below is the same as the opening one but if you look at the back you can see Mhairi’s felting block and tools.

Range of felted animals (foxes,sheep,dogs,hares) and the  tools and material at the back, which consists of a sponge pad and a needle holder that allows three needles to felt the wool at a the.

Felted animal farm with the tools to make them. ©Mhairi Carroll

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Flickr keeps growing

There seems to be a law of exponential growth in the community of people who enjoy seeing the world through the lens. I am celebrating the number of views of our flickr images passing 200,000.

It took three years to reach 100,000 and just over one to double that. The number of contacts who see each new image builds up and there is a lot of tablet computer apps that load a stream of flickr supplied pictures onto screens around the globe.

If I am ever running out of steam I enjoy looking at the favourites we have selected from other flickr users. Most of them are simply stunning and letting them slide-show when listening to music is a great way to relax.

One specific image of mine has topped 30,000 views and it would appear to be a hit on Pinterest.  The Fairy Pools is a classic Scottish scene from the Isle of Skye and our popular pic below catches an unusual angle on it.

Picture of waterfall at the Fairy Pools Isle of Skye

This image has over 30,000 views now and is our most popular. ©Paul Carroll

Flikr is still one of the main outlets for our images. Although we sell some through Getty’s, 500px and our own website I get as much satisfaction from freely sharing great pictures from around Scotland and in return seeing the world through others sharing their images.

Its maybe time to stop counting but perhaps if we stay with it the next news will be passing the one million views mark. Will let you know if we do.

So thanks to all the viewers out there as it provides a spur to get back outside and take some more pictures. If you get out where you are lets see what captures your eye.

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Landscape of the year 2013

The Take a View landscape photographer of the year 2013 is for us the UK’s annual Oscars of landscape images. This year’s worthy winner is Tony Bennett LRPS.

the misty water of Crummock Water, driving the mist away and filling the shadows with warm light.

This is the image that won the competition for Landscape Photographer of the Year 2013.

A photograph of autumn mists drifting over Crummock Water in the English Lake District captivated the judges and wins top prize in this year’s search for the UK’s ‘Landscape Photographer of the Year’. Derbyshire-based photographer, Tony Bennett becomes the seventh person to win the overall title and the £10,000 prize. His picture was chosen, by the judges, from the thousands of entries that showcased the richly diverse landscape of the UK.

The category winner for the classic view of the year was our old favourite but sadly missed tree on Lochan na h-Achlaise on Rannoch Moor. The photographer David Breen has called it the Ghost of Rannoch Moor.

hoar frosted tree on a small island in the loch with a mountain range in the distance with snow covered peaks.

Classic view – David Breen – Rannoch Moor, Scotland

We are now on volume seven of the annual book produced of the judges best selections from thousands of entries. We have the full set and its an inspirational read. Sadly we missed the entry date this year due being exceptionally busy at the time we would normally have entered. However, a couple of the photographers we have covered in this blog are in such as Ian Cameron and David Mould – both of whom got two images each in the book and one from each is featured below.

Refection of an autumn coloured scene of amber and golds on a loch in front of a hillside

Kaleidoscape Glencoe Loch Achtriochtan, Glencoe, Scotland by Ian Cameron – click image to go to his website to see more about or buy this image.

a boat sits on a loch which reflects a blue sky and is perfectly still

Loch Rusky by David Mould. A highly commended image from Perthshire looking over to the Campies. Click the image to see more from David about this image and more.

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Scenic drives suggestions for touring around Scotland.

Driving in Scotland, especially heading to the remote parts, can be a pure joy.

Visit Scotland have started another list of the best drives in Scotland on their blog although I think they need to make better use of some of the better photography available to them.

They have gone for the following but this time with our pictures:

1.  Rest and Be Thankful pass on the A83 – we don’t have one yet – any donors?

2. Traigh Sheileboist at Seilebost

Veiw across the beach towards a high hill in the distance.

Traigh Sheileboist at Seilebost – taken from the road. A classic view of Harris and in nice evening light.

3. Glencoe to Fort William

snow covered ground with a clear road and the mountain

The dramatic entrance to Glencoe on the A 82 to Fort William past the Buachaille

One day I hope to produce the definitive list of must drive roads in Scotland. We have a couple of previous posts on it.

See the best roads in Scotland Part 2

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Harris video updated with latest images

We have visited the Isle of Harris four times in two and half years.  Its been a dream come true. Mhairi has updated our video – Harris: a Journey – with some of the best images we have taken. This includes a wedding shot from the beach at Rosamol that was selected for a local brochure and has now been taken on by Getty Images.

bride is a ghostly see through image on a beach with a hill on the distant shore

Mhairi created this ghostly effect in post processing. Part of our Harris: a Journey show of images.

If you have 20 minutes you will see why we love the place. There is also some nice gaelic musical accompaniment (see credits at the end) and some shots that convey a personal journey as well. To make the movie show from stills we used iMovie.

We have cut it back from 30 to 20 minutes but its still one to pour a smooth drink and chill out to.

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10 Great Places to see Autumn Leaves in Scotland


I agree with all these recommendations on where to find full autumn colour scenery in Scotland. You can find many of them in our Perthshire Gallery.

Originally posted on Wild about Scotland:

Loch Dunmore (Photo credit: Baaker 2009 CC 2.0)

Loch Dunmore (Photo credit: Baaker 2009 CC 2.0)

Lonely Planet has recently voted Scotland one of the top places in the world to see autumn leaves. I suspect this probably comes as little surprise to many Scots but an accolade such as this certainly helps to reinforce Scotland’s scenic tourism credentials at this time of year.

The leaves are already starting to change colour and will burst into a riot of bronze, red, crimson, yellow and brilliant orange throughout October until the wind blows the last of the leaves off the trees in early November.

I think this year is likely to be a bumper year for autumn colour.  Why ?  Well at this time of year, cooler weather and shorter days trigger trees to stop producing chlorophyll and as it is broken down other pigments become prominent.  These include carotenoid (which turns the leaf a golden colour) and anthocyanin (which…

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Back from Sanna

We got back from Ardnamurchan late yesterday night. It took us twelve hours going the long way home via the north side of the peninsula towards the Sound of Arasaig and stopping every half hour to take in the stunning Lochaber scenery.  The weather throughout the week was generally kind so we were able to make the most of daylight.

Beach runs up to set of small white cottages and  of the coast over deep blue sea are three Islands in the distance

Sanna Bay in Ardnamurchan. The Small Inner Isles of the Inner Hebrides are just off the coast. From left to right they are Muck,Rhum,Eigg. ©Mhairi Carroll

We are processing all the images taken as we travelled round this remote part of Scotland. Above is one of Sanna Bay taken last Wednesday. We stayed mostly in the western part of Ardnamurchan between the famous lighthouse and Ben Hiant. We took a quick boat trip on the Kilchoan – Tobermory ferry (only £8.50 return without the car).

Mhairi is sitting on a dry stone wall in front of a cottage with a corrugated metal roof which is red and the cottage also has a bright green door

Mhairi takes a break at the colourful abandoned cottages at Ockle. ©Paul Carroll 2013

Over the rest of this week we will be adding new pictures to our Ardnamurchan gallery.

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Returning to Ardnamurchan

Ardnamurchan is the most westerly point on the British mainland prides itself according to the local tourist association on being a best kept secret. We are heading back there for the third time in two years. I wonder what the special attraction is for us.

It has outstanding viewpoints of the small isles of the Inner Hebrides as Rum, Eigg are close and you can see out to Tiree on the horizon. Being on the islands is wonderful but the best pictures of them are often from the shore of the mainland. Is this the same as the best view of a mountain is looking up rather than looking down?

Orange sky with sunlit mountains in the distance of the island of rum and before that the unlit silhouette of the island of Egg.

The Cuillin of Rhum lit by sunrise over Eigg in the middle. Taken from Ardtoe in Ardnamurchan. ©Paul Carroll 2012

Ardnamurchan point lighthouse from across a bay showing waves coming in and the Ilses of Eigg and Rum in the background

The lighthouse at Ardnamurchan point was built in 1849 by Alan Stevenson, uncle of Robert Louis Stevenson, whose family designed most of Scotland’s lighthouses over a period of 150 years. ©Mhairi Morrison 2012

We are staying in Portuairk, which is the closest village to Ardnamurchan Point and next to Sanna Bay. We are looking forward to some glorious sunsets as well as a walk on Ben Hiant and a boat trip from Kilchoan to Tobermory on the Isle of Mull.

We will be taking plenty of photographs so let us know if you have any requests. While researching our next trip I came across a fellow traveller’s site. Wildlife photographer Graham Olley has pulled together a website All About Ardnamurchan using  his photographs of the area and also provide easy to read maps to help people find the locations he visited.

When we  get back we hope to update our Ardnamurchan gallery with some excellent images. Like this one from our last visit.

Road with remote telephone box and sheep beside it looking over the sea to the isles of Eigg and Rum

On the road to the coastal villages of Kilmory and Ockle there is an excellent view north from the junction with the B8007 to the islands of Rùm, Eigg, Muck and Canna. ©Paul Carroll 2012

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