The Weight of Time

The theme of the current Daily Post Photographic Challenge is ‘Weight(less)‘. I scrolled through my Flickr photostream, thinking I wouldn’t have anything to fit the bill, and then my gaze landed on this image of a glacial erratic perched above the shores of Loch Tournaig in the north west Highlands of Scotland. Bingo.

Loch Tournaig, Wester Ross
Loch Tournaig, Wester Ross

Since the Ices Ages began 2.6 million years ago, Scotland has experienced cycles of intensely cold glacial periods interspersed with warmer interglacial episodes. The ice last receded around 10,000 years ago, allowing vegetation to gradually colonise the bare soils and create the basis of the landscapes that surround us today. Our current interglacial climate is far from tropical but, with the constant threat of global warming hanging over us, it is hard to think back and imagine a time in recent geological history when Scotland was smothered in ice. Glaciation shaped Scotland’s landscapes, from the ‘crag and tail’ landform of Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile; to our most iconic valley, Glen Coe; to the deepest inland water body in the British Isles, Loch Morar (a whopping 1,017ft / 310m deep); and small-scale features a stone’s throw from the roadside near Poolewe. This photograph captures many of the building blocks of the Wester Ross landscape: water reflecting the ever changing skies; imposing mountains; and ancient rocks such as this glacial erratic, which was once picked up by an ice sheet and carried along effortlessly like a pebble in a stream.

Geological time certainly puts your own sense of mortality into perspective! I first visited Wester Ross when I was two years old. Although I have no recollection of my 1988 holiday in Badachro, I have always felt a special connection with the area. In September 2011, whilst still a resident of Edinburgh, I escaped the city for a week of camping at Poolewe to mark my 26th birthday. I was feeling under the weather when I awoke on the first morning (non alcohol related, I can assure you!), but dragged myself out of my cosy sleeping bag and drove a few miles up the road to the little hamlet of Tournaig, in the hope of capturing the sunrise. I squelched through bog and battled midges in my quest to find something suitably interesting to fill the foreground of my photograph. All the discomfort was worthwhile when I set up my tripod in front of this boulder and the sun cleared the horizon behind me and bathed the moorland in soft golden light.

Redpoint Beach, July 1988
Redpoint Beach, Wester Ross, July 1988
Overlooking Loch Maree, Wester Ross, September 2011
Overlooking Loch Maree, Wester Ross, September 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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31 thoughts

  1. This is a wonderful response to the challenge Karen; beautiful photo of an ancient landscape (and lovely portraits too) and an interesting meditation on time too. Lovely!

    1. Thanks very much! I thought I was going to struggle with this week’s theme but it all fell into place when I remembered this photograph. I love looking back on my childhood pictures (but am shocked at how dated they look!) and thinking about how these early experiences have shaped my life.

  2. Beautiful picture and what a beautiful blog. I never saw much of Scotland when I was living in Edinburgh, and now that I’m down in London there’s even less occasion to. My family are still up there so maybe one day I will take an extended holiday to the Highlands. Thank you for sharing😊

    1. Thanks very much Dan! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Like you, I used to live in Edinburgh and struggled to find enough time to get up to Highlands. I had a five day mini break in London last year, after flying from Inverness to Gatwick. I guess you could do that journey in reverse and explore the Highlands! 🙂

    1. Thank you Louise! There’s so much potential for landscape photography in this part of the Highlands. Despite knowing the facts and figures, I don’t think I’ll ever truly grasp the age of these rocks and the forces that shaped these landscapes.

    1. Thanks Mark. It’s hard to believe that, come September, it’ll have been five years since our Poolewe holiday. The photograph overlooking Loch Maree reminds me that we need to complete the other half of the Tollie – Slattadale walk. Another item for the 2016 to-do list!

  3. Perfect for the challenge💕 You have a lovely website too, filled with beautiful images….and you seem to feel the layers of time in the Scottish landscape in a very similar way to me✨lovely to meet you Karen

    1. Thank you Seonaid. I’m glad you’re enjoying the photographs and it’s lovely to meet someone else who is passionate about Scotland’s landscapes and the healing power of the natural world. I’m sure I’ll enjoy following your blog.

  4. What a gorgeous photo!! I lived in Scotland briefly and tried to go back, but because of some immigration hiccups I’ve landed in London. It’s right but my heart longs for Scotland and the highlands, especially after seeing your photos!

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