Day 4: A Day of Discovery

After yesterday’s very wet rather rushed walk, I decided to venture back again along the Forvie NNR coastal path. Initially I was going to loop back to the visitor centre but I decided instead to go further along to Hackley Bay.

I remember seeing it years ago as a student and wanting to go back to see it again. It’s a small sandy cove surrounded by marram covered cliffs. The only way to access it is to walk through the reserve. Although I was eager to see it again, I didn’t realise how much in awe I would be once I reached the damp sands.

The thick fog provided an eerie backdrop as it was just I and some early fulmars on the beach. That sense of isolation, dramatic edging and wide reaching sand has put it on my top 5 if not possibly top 2 beaches to visit (so far) in the UK.

I didn’t spend long as clothing was not something I had on in abundance, but I will be back with a book and a blanket and a snack or two. I also didn’t have any picture taking device with me so alas, sorry no photos. Yesterday’s photo will therefore have to suffice.

Hackley Bay, Forvie NNR on a soggy day
Hackley Bay, Forvie NNR on a soggy day

It’s one of those iconic type of beaches you imagine from the movies with people walking hand in hand or horses galloping through the surf….The picture above doesn’t do it justice at all (but it was pouring rain) therefore a camera will also be on my list for next time!

If you’re in the area, pop by for a visit – you will not be disappointed as its truly idyllic.

Today’s walk-run put another 10k on the clock for my John O’ Groats to Lands End Challenge.


Day 3 on the Virtual Challenge

A stylised photo looking out to see at Forvie NNR. Looks like it could be a lovely summers day!

I’m certainly racking up a few miles more than normal the last few days. Today’s big adventure took the form of starting out on a wet, but nice walk through Forvie NNR which ended up with me running in full waterproofs (two jackets), jeans and winter boots the last two miles in order to vaguely make a hair-taming appointment. Cue 10km added to my virtual challenge total. And cue ending up extremely embarrassed, sweaty, soaked through and red-faced whilst apologising profusely for being (at least) 10 minutes late for a 9am appointment.

Still the lady at the Ythan Waves hair salon was wonderfully lovely and cut my hair really nicely therefore I would not hesitate in recommending this hairdresser! If you can trust a review from someone who gets a haircut maximum once a year… The place was clearly well visited by the locals which is always a good sign.

I plan on going back to do this walk again, perhaps in a loop when the weather is nicer and when I don’t have to be somewhere at a certain time. Here’s a soggy pic of Hackley Bay. The scenery is fantastic, especially when you see the sandy beach stretching out in the distance. Forvie NNR is definitely somewhere you want to be in the summer evenings when the sun is low glancing over the dunes and there is a gentle breeze. Aah bliss.

Hackley Bay, Forvie NNR on a soggy day
Hackley Bay, Forvie NNR on a soggy day


My total today is just under 12km! Making progress on this one! Would love to hear about any nice walks you’ve been on today.



Black and White Photo Study

The intimate nature of a Gunnera leaf

Here are a few black and white photos I took last weekend. What do you think?

A mallard duck paddling into the distance
A mallard duck paddling into the distance
Close-up of a chunky post
Close-up of a chunky post
Gunnera leaves
Gunnera leaves
Eryngium alpinum flowerhead and bracts
Eryngium alpinum flowerhead and bracts
Backlit head of an Umbellifer
Backlit head of an Umbellifer
Gunnera leaf with rain droplets
Gunnera leaf with rain droplets

Black and white photos can be so soothing. Not all photographs will work as black and white but I think these do. They are particularly good when there is texture involved and that texture has many shades of grey.

Do you take black and white photos?


Visit: Glen Tanar NNR

Vaccinium myrtillus and Calluna vulgaris undergrowth (Heather and Blaeberries)

I think that everyone has a list of favourite places to go or be. Glen Tanar NNR, near Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, is one of those places which is in my Top 10. I can easily spend a good few hours wandering up and down paths or a good day venturing further up the valley.

It’s a fantastic place to photograph especially in the evening when the mist starts rising through the trees. It was a glorious sunny day on Thursday – one of the best this year – when I had a wonder around. The harsh contrast between highlights and shadows makes it difficult to take pictures in such sunny conditions but I certainly enjoyed the walk and have a few images to share with you.

It’s a few pounds for the car park and there is a small visitor centre with toilets. There are well signposted walks of a mile or too or if you fancy there are also longer walks. For example if you fancy a munro, there is always Mount Keen, although be prepared for a 7 mile walk before you even start ascending it.

Church (1)
Chapel of St Lesmo
Church (3)
Glen Tanar green – all the houses are painted in this colour of green.
Church (4)
The bell on St Lesmo’s chapel
Undergrowth (1)
Sun dappled undergrowth
Tree stumps (6)
Views of Glen Tanar
Tree stumps (5)
Pignut and wood
Cows (1)
Cows grazing in the field.
Cows (2)
Close up of a young bullock.
Path (1)
Path alongside a field – this route follows the river upstream.
Loch (1)
Loch with boat house and private fishing – return in autumn for some amazing colour here.
Loch (2)
Ethereal loch at any time of the day.
Reeds (2)
Reeds with dragonfly zooming by.
Rhododendron growing next to the loch.
Foxglove (2)
Foxglove – Digitalis purpurea
Purple Thistle and Bee
Thistle – Cirsium
Dragonfly lake
Smaller loch with loads of dragonflies and damselflies
Path (2)
Path dappled with sunlight
Sign post
Plenty of signposts are around
Broom (2)
Broom is everywhere and flowers in June
Tree stumps (1)
An unsusual natural tree sculpture
Path (3)
The view down Glen Tanar
Tree stumps (2)
Sunlight through the Scots Pine
Tree stumps (3)
Blaeberry and Scots Pine, Pinus sylvestris
Undergrowth (2)
Galium saxatile
Undergrowth (3)
Galium saxatile closeup image
A glider from the Deeside Gliding Club

I’ll share some autumn pictures with you at some point. Do you have some favourite places you like to visit as much as you can?


A beautiful evening in Fort William

Thought I would continue with the Scottish walk photographs after Loch Lomond last night. These were taken a year or two ago at the start of the long distance Great Glen Way walk which takes you from Fort William, all the way up Loch Ness and up to Inverness. They also show the Caledonian Canal which also can take you along the same route but via water! You can see Ben Nevis in the background of some of the photos.

Along the Caledonian canal
Caledonian canal
Black and white daisies
Summer in Fort William
Setting sun in Fort William
Reflections over the Calendonian canal
Sky over Ben Nevis
Canal Reflections

Some spring garden flowers

Now that it’s starting to warm up a little things are really starting to take off in the garden. This is what’s looking good in the garden at the moment.

I got these gorgeously coloured and hugely-flowered pansies from Dobbies a few weeks ago. To be honest their flowers are a little too big and floppy, but they weather really well which is great.

I’ve planted them here with white Petunias and a Limnanthes douglasii (Poached Egg plant). These should produce some really nice colour over the summer.

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It’s been so mild this year that my Dahlias which I left out over winter have survived. I was going to redo this tub but decided just to freshen up the compost. The white Petunias and Limnanthes douglasii will go really well with this white-edged Hosta. If I remember correctly the Dahlia in here is dark red – super contrast! Looking at this picture now I think a white Dahlia would have been better but the red will pack a punch.

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My Clematis cartmanii which if I can remember I think is ‘Avalanche’ is filling the greenhouse with the most wonderful fragrance. It didn’t flower much last year, partly because it got attacked by aphids but this year it’s covered in pale greeny flowers. I love the cartmanii Clematis‘. They are only hardy to -5°C so you really need a greenhouse but if you do I really recommend that you get one. They aren’t cheap to buy but worth every penny for the show and scent they put on at this time of year. I got this one at Gardening Scotland a good few years ago and it was wonderful the number of comments I got from people as I walked around with it!


Pulsatilla‘s also look great at this time of year. Calendula also pretty much do not stop flowering in my garden. They go quiet around February but generally they will show a happy face most of the year. I just allow them to seed around and they come up in various shades of yellow and orange plus some have light centres and some dark. Chuck a few seeds around and they won’t disappoint. The same goes for Honesty as well. They move around the garden growing where they please. Foxgloves are also going that way in our garden too. These are all welcome travellers because they are all great for wildlife.

Keep an eye out for sleepy bumblebees at this time of year. Those sitting under flowers often overnight can get cold and hungry. Often all they need is a quick sugary pick me up. You can help them out by dissolving a little bit of sugar in some water on a teaspoon. They’ll slurp it up and be off in no time. If they aren’t taking it, pop them on a Dandelion (they love these and they are everywhere) and pour some into the flower. They’ll soon start drinking as it’s a more natural way for them to realise that it’s nectar. I found one today which had gotten stuck in the greenhouse. It was glad of a very long drink.

It was a glorious afternoon here today. I hope that you have managed to get out and enjoy your garden too.


Annette X

Up close with black and white dragonflies

I am trying to get my photographs more organised on the computer and it’s always nice to come across some photos which you don’t remember. Here are a few such images which were taken on a holiday to Kent a few years ago. I had a play with these and have converted them all to black and white which I think really brings out the eyes.

Close up of a dragonfly
Sunlit wings of a dragonfly
Grasshopper with very long antennae
Dragonfly on a stick
Dragonfly looking for prey


I went through quite a few images realising how few of them actually had the focus on the eyes. I really like some of these though. I was lucky in that the places we went had tens of dragonflies and thousands of grasshoppers, so you were never far away from another photo opportunity. Unfortunately the subject of the last photo had a dodgy wing and I’ve only just noticed – until next time!

Do you have a favourite? Leave a comment with which one you like the best.

Annette X