Travel Diaries: Autumn in Scotland – Rockpooling at High Tide

In the autumn of 2019 we returned to Scotland, to the little holiday cottage on the windswept north west coast. We wanted to see how the changing seasons affected the landscape that we had fallen deeply in love with back in the springtime and timed our trip for when the autumn colours would reach their peak.

As soon as we had recovered from the long journey north, we set out for Durness, eager to see the Atlantic waves crash against the shore.

Our baby daughter was now just-turned-one and still in her carrier, wrapped up in blankets and scarves, huddled against me in the bracing winds.

There is a knack to getting children beach-ready in September in Durness. You master the art of catching gloves and scarfs as the breeze whisks them out of the car boot.

As you first step foot on the sands, a stream runs down from the crags to greet you, ripples under an old arched stone bridge, and then follows you down to the surf.

The clouds above us race by; shafts of sunlight appear for seconds and vanish.

We find a spot where the waves pool between the rocks. Our boys venture forward into the foam and quickly scuttle back, the youngest squealing with delight, every time the tide rushes in just a little quicker and further than expected.

Everywhere new textures catch my eye; just to my side is a cluster of shells that look as ancient as the weathered stone they cling to. I hold my daughter close enough to prod them gently with her mittened hand.

My little son, who speaks only rarely, runs his fingers over the barnacles that edge each rock pool and I just catch his words over the roar of the sea: “same but different!”

I love the deep greens of the seaweed, stretching out to greet the tide. My son reaches out eagerly to touch the beautiful strands, for he has a love of ribbons and streamers, but he gasps and then recoils back at the shock of cold, wet slime.

At a glance, the huge dark standing rocks are shrouded in deep blues and greys … and then, up close, they are streaked with a palette of coppers and deep reds.

Clear bell-like shapes of jellyfish peak up from the sands. From above they shine like polished amber.

A last glance before we take to the road. This is how I alway see Durness in my mind: the dark guardians under ever-moving skies.

On our journey back to the cottage the autumn landscape surrounds us; layers of gold, russet, burnt orange and muted red.

The mountains beckon to us; tomorrow we climb.

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17 Comments Add yours

  1. John says:

    So many beautiful photos, thanks for sharing these! Such a beautiful landscape and place. 🥰❤️😎🇬🇧

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It seems fitting I should be replying on this thread on Scotland’s national day, Saint Andrew’s Day! It is jaw-droppingly beautiful – I cannot wait to get back there (not allowed currently as we are in Tier 3 Restrictions, but the mountains will wait for us!) x

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jo Shafer says:

    Just as I always imagined the wild side of Scotland that, in my thinking, influenced the warlike nature of Highlanders. Your photos make the scenes of Mary Queen of Scots that much more vivid, after she returned to her homeland to claim her throne.


    1. I had always dreamed of visiting, but it took my breath away – the sheer scale of the mountains and the wildness of the landscape. It made everything that I thought was wild back here in the midlands feel a little like parkland instead. I can’t wait to get back there x I cannot imagine how it must have been for Queen Mary, after a palatial upbringing in France – to suddenly be in windswept rugged Scotland! Such a shock I must think 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m sure it was. But she was determined to make the best of it. After all, this was HER kingdom, her country, her home.


        1. Oh absolutely. I recently read a biography of Mary Queen of Scots – such an amazing lady.


  3. Widdershins says:

    Kids reactions to the unexpected are always wonderful. 🙂


      1. And I love that you encourage participation in nature…even with your daughter – helping her touch and experience – at her young age.


  4. Beautiful pictures! Love the shapes and textures of the seaside treasures.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I remember saying to my husband when we were there that it feels like you could point and click your camera anywhere and it would be a perfect picture – everything is so beautiful x

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Vicki says:

    Your photos and words make me long to go back to Durness which I can barely remember from my 1978 trip.

    Superb images. You have an eye for the details which I love. I zoomed in on my 27″ iMac to see the details even better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Vicki x There is something quite wonderful to think how the giant rocks of Durness will not have changed in that time, and that it remains just the same and unspoilt.


  6. Very lovely photos! I have Scottish ancestry from both sides of my family. Wonderful to see that heritage! ❤ 3

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Cheryl 🤍


  7. I nominated you for an “Outstanding Blogger Award.” You don’t have to participate, but I wanted to make sure you knew.


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