They're out
(well, some of them).

(Wild) Daffodil - lus an Aisig - Narcissus pseudonarcissus

What a difference a week and a half makes.

I went to the supermarket a week past Thursday, and everything looked normal. Shelves were stocked and there were lots of customers. I went again last night. This time the place was deserted and the shelves were empty. Panic has set in.

The usual Lidl slogan used to promote special deals suddenly took on a whole other meaning: "When it's gone... it's gone".

I went for a walk along the Caledonian Canal this afternoon. It was lovely, but I still couldn't escape from warnings about the corona virus. The note in the attached photo was pinned to one of the canal buildings.

A large share of the economy of the Highlands is dependent on tourism. The CV19 outbreak will devastate the season this year.

Although I have seen an increase in the number of campervans for this time of year. The "exodus" has begun.

Spotted recently when driving around.
A wooden sheep for browsing your garden.
Low maintenance, low noise, and no mess.

Leanach Cottage,
on the site of Culloden Battlefield,
near Inverness.

The cottage was built in 1760, 14 years after the battle. A previous cottage existed at the same location, and was probably used as a rudimentary field hospital during the military engagement.

Credit: Jill Clardy

The Caledonian Canal was designed by the famous engineer Thomas Telford. It was meant to be 33.5m wide at the surface, 15.2m wide at the bottom, and 6.1m deep. However, due to the difficult construction conditions the depth wasn't initially achieved. Regardless, the canal was opened to traffic in 1822 while the depth was typically 3.7m. Dredging & improvements continued during the 19th century.

Maintenance work on the canal locks continue to the present day.

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The Gondolier paddle steamer was built especially (in 1866) to operate on The Caledonian Canal from Fort William, on the west coast, to Inverness, on the east. The steamer was primarily intended for sightseeing, but as the A82 road wasn't completed for another 60 years it would also serve as an important transport link.

The canal allowed ships to navigate the Great Glen by joining the Lochs: Linnhe, Lochy, Oich and Ness.

Very noticeable drop in household water pressure this morning. The water supply comes off the hill behind the house, so I had to go up and investigate. It was the typical problem of the inlet pipe (behind the dam) being covered with small stones.

I had to roll up my sleeves, and clear the stones. Water temp just above freezing. After 5 mins work, I had lost all feeling in hands and forearms. I can appreciate how people die in cold water.

The final resting place.

I drove past a scrapyard the other day, and this traditional red telephone box caught my eye. They used to be a common sight in towns and villages, and even the rural Highlands & Islands had many of them.

There was a time when communities ran campaigns to save their 'phone boxes, but even that has passed now. The onward march of the mobile 'phone has been relentless.

Another icon bites the dust.

This photo really appeals to me.

It was taken on Eilean Èisdeal (Easdale Island). The island was famous for producing slate in huge quantities for hundreds of years, until flooding put most of the mines out of business in the mid 19th century. The dark stones in the photo may be slate residue.

The wheelbarrow must have a special purpose, but it is unknown to me. The wee girl looks like she is enjoying the ride.

Credit: Colin MacPherson

Darwin is, of course, best known for his scientific work on evolution. However, he also "dabbled" in other scientific fields, including geology.

Just to prove that even great minds sometimes get it wrong, it is worth reading about his conclusions on the "parallel roads" of Glen Roy, which he visited in 1838. To be fair to Darwin, he wasn't far wrong...

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One of the things I loved about this area was the profusion of trees.

In particular, I found the shapes of the Scots Pines (giuthas-Albannach - pinus sylvestris) were endlessly fascinating. Every tree had a unique shape. Some were tall and narrow, others were umbrella shaped, and in-between there was every shape imaginable.

Sad as it was to see dead trees, they still added to the landscape. They remained upright, losing their bark and turning silvery.

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After finishing our circuit of the loch we made our way to An Lochan Uaine (the little green lake). You'll just have to believe me that the lochan is vividly green when viewed from the eastern side, as I didn't take a photo from this angle.

From there we continued up Rathad nam Mèirleach (The Thieves' road) to the bothy at Ruighe a’ Bhothain (Ryvoan). We were surprised to find 6 people inside the bothy when we looked inside.

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At the point where we completed our circuit of the loch there was a lovely sandy beach. Judging from the number of footprints in the sand it was a popular place for people to visit.

Tucked into one corner of the beach was a wooden building, which during the tourist season is a centre for wind-surfer and dinghy hire.

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At the western end of the loch there is an outflow (river) called Luineag. It really caught the low-level sunshine in the morning. Around the edges the water was frozen, but the fast flowing parts were ice free.

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Yesterday, I was in the central Highlands, to go walking with a friend. Specifically we were in the area around An Aghaidh Mhòr (Aviemore). We had a great time, the scenery was fantastic, and the weather was almost unbelievable for February.

I'll be posting quite a few photos from the day's adventures.

This first photo is of Loch Mhùrlaig (Loch Morlich), and was taken about 2 minutes after we parked the car. Bright blue skies, no wind, and -2°C temp.

On to-night's we startled a Red Deer (Fiadh-ruadh - Cervus elaphus) hind as we were approaching a gate. The deer felt trapped, and ran a short distance to our left, and then majestically jumped over the fence to make its escape. Ironic, as the fence was a deer fence, and is 2 metres high. Granted, there was a slight decline down to the fence, but impressive athletic ability regardless.

A photograph of a waterfall* taken during the on Boxing Day.

The second version was taken with a very slow shutter speed to create a cotton wool effect. Surprisingly, even though the cotton wool shot was a full one second exposure, done hand held, the non-moving parts of the photo were still fairly sharp.

The waterfall, from top to bottom, was about 10 metres.

* Waterfall/cascade/horsetail? I'm never sure when one becomes the other.

At the end of the we encountered this fascinating navigable aqueduct.

The two left-most arches allow a river to pass underneath the aqueduct, and the third arch allows access for pedestrians & small vehicles. The Caledonian Canal passes above the aqueduct, but is out of sight at this level.

, the Scottie dog, was a bit wary when he went through the tunnel at first. The second time, he went through like a pro.

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