Walks and road trips in the Highlands of Scotland in autumn

Looking back over the week in the Scottish Highlands has many special memories, including the most consistent week of good weather that I can remember for a long time.

The first day was spent at Glen Affric covered in my Glen Affric in autumn blog with stunning reflections and autumnal views. The rest of the week was a mixture of walks and road trips.

Glen Affric and Loch Affric

Ben Eighe Nature Reserve and road trip

Having done this same hike last winter accompanied by snow and ice (see the Winter Wonderland post), it was surprising in autumn to be confronted with the first taste of wintry weather, with a careful hike needed up the icy path to the plateau providing the usual great views across to the Ben Eighe range.

I was too cold to spend much time here, so rather than extend the hike towards Ben Eighe I decided to return back to the car and continue with a road trip up Glen Torridon. The route has incredible scenery, but the most memorable moment was where I had a deer encounter that was very special and resulted in the photos below!

Unbelievably this shot was taken with a 24-70mm lens - I’ve never been so close to wild red deer in Scotland!

The Wester Ross coastal trail takes you past stunning views from the roadside across Upper Loch Torridon to the mountains beyond.

With the sunset an hour earlier after the daylight savings time change, I wanted to find a good west coast location for the close of day. I ended up travelling along the coastline from Lochcarron past the Strome Castle ruin where I stopped for a few photos with the sun now low in the sky.

I then carried on down the single track road to Ardaneaskan where I waited for photos looking over to the Isle of Skye skyline as the sun disappeared behind the Cuillin mountains.

Home base

We were staying in Littlemill over this holiday, and between the trips out we were treated to clear nights with a stunning display of the night sky from the garden of the property.

The early mornings were regularly interrupted by hundreds of geese moving to their daytime feeding grounds, and making a lot of noise in the process!

RSPB Loch Garton

I’ve made many trips to RSPB Loch Garton over the years normally during winter. This is the time when it is much quieter (in terms of humans!) but always very active with the birds! Coal tits being bold enough to feed from my hand - no red squirrels this time though:

Route to Fort Augustus

Later in the week, we travelled down the east side of Loch Ness to make our way to Fort Augustus to take a stroll along the Great Glen Way. The route down on this clear autumn morning was once again beautiful with mist rising and hanging over Loch Ness.

These are views along the canal by the Great Glen Way:

Meall Fuar-Mhonaidh

The final excursion of the week started at 3.00am on the Friday when the alarm went off, and I left the apartment around 3.30am to travel to the car park from where I would walk up Meall Fuar-Mhonaidh. The walk was in total darkness with just the aid of a head torch in order to get to the summit before sunrise (only 699m but still reasonably strenuous for that time of the morning!).

There was a tinge of disappointment when it became apparent that cloud would obscure the sunrise itself - my view from the top initially looked like this:

…but instead I was treated with some superb views of distant mountains being lit by the very low sun, causing them to turn from pink to eventual white as the sun got higher:

As the sun continued to rise and cast its light through the clouds, there were great views over Loch Ness:

Can you spot Willow?

It was soon time to head back to the car, enjoying the backlit autumn colours of the birch trees which I had missed walking up in the dark!

And this brought to a close a week of great moments and many memories! The Highlands never fail to disappoint!