Last Friday was the ranger walk to Polouriscaig, the abandoned post-clearance village in the hills behind Armadale. I went there last summer and hadn't been back since, so I awarded myself the afternoon off, taking just my short telephoto kit lens with me. (You can see what's coming, can't you...?)
It was an absolutely gorgeous afternoon for a walk:
The heather was in bloom, turning the hills purple, and mushrooms were sprouting up left, right and centre:
It had rained heavily in the past two days and frogs were making the most of the streams of water running down the track:
Polouriscaig itself is just four houses set in a valley, this being the most complete:
After a good look around the village, we sat on the hill behind to catch our breath and a merlin flew past, so engrossed in her pursuit of a meadow pippit that she flew within 15 feet of us and we were treated to a spectacular aerial display as the pippit tried to escape. The ranger said that it was incredibly rare for them to come that close to humans - and, of course, I didn't have my big lens! Still a privilege to see it. I don't know what happened to the pippit, they dropped out of sight.
On the far side of that hill and over a small moor there's another house which I didn't know about. It's not as well built as the others and it's almost gone, but the view from it was spectacular:
The mound you can see in the bottom right of that picture is a huge red granite rock which must look amazing at sunset. Next summer I may just take a tent up and photograph it at sunset (I'm not even going to attempt the trip back in the dark, it's a 2-hour walk and I'd be lost in about two seconds flat!)
It was at this point that the rain clouds caught up with us and we all got soaked. It blew over pretty fast and made for an amazing view towards Strathy Point lighthouse on the way back (that's Hoy, one of the Orkney Islands, in the background):
The ranger says that in October and November deer gather in the first valley over the hill - I shall go and have a look.