Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The Carpet of the Highlands

Scottish Highland Heather calluna vulgaris
Scotland not only is famous for the thistle but also for its autumn flowering highland heather - Calluna vulgaris which is a Scottish wildflowerCalluna from the Greek ‘Kallune’ meaning to clean or brush as the twigs were used for making brooms and vulgaris from Latin, meaning common.  It's very hardy  and each plant has a life expectancy of about 40-50 years.   The plant also very resilient to the grazing from the roe deer, reindeer, rabbits, mountain hares, grouse, and cattle along with being  the most favourite habitat of the infamous Scottish midge Culicoides impuctatus
Heather growing along the Pinewoods of Glen Quoich
Heather growing along the Pinewoods of Glen Quoich
The best time of year to see the heather in bloom is at the end of August and the first few weeks of September but normally you have to go well off the beaten track to see it at its finest.  It carpets the highland landscape and can range in colours from lilac to purple.  
Scottish heather Calluna vulgaris
"No' a flow'r that man can gather. ...can beat the bonnie, bloomin' heather"
Our 16yr old  spent last weekend in the remoteness and emptiness of the Eastern Cairngorm mountains for his silver Duke of Edinburgh expedition and I asked him to take some photos so that I could share them here on leavesnbloom.  (These were all taken on an ipod touch until the battery expired).
Scottish heather Calluna vulgaris
“Land of the hill and heather, Land of the awful weather, Land where the midges gather - Scotland the brave”
Their mobile phones are taken away from them once the expedition commences  and parents have no contact over the whole weekend unless there is an emergency. They spent the long weekend camping outside Braemar along Glen Quoich and hiking to the summit of Creag Bhalg.  The area is in Aberdeenshire though it's well to the east from where Alistair blogs from.   
Scottish Highlands
In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. Psalm 95:4
Bathroom facilities are bringing a garden trowel with you, the roll of toilet paper and digging a hole,  drinking water is provided from streams (boiled), cooking is over a campfire and streams have to be crossed on foot. Even though he had to hike  through the thunder and lightning most of Friday, constantly battling with the clouds of blood thirsty Scottish midges especially when they got into the tent and avoiding the ticks he still managed to take some lovely photographs.
Scottish Highlands Duke of Edinburgh silver medal Camp
No photos of August's camp but this is was the camp on the practice weekend expedition in June

Here's the Itinerary:

  • Day 1 - Linn of Dee camping at Derry lodge.
  • Day 2 - Glen Quoich via Creag Bhalg (668m Graham).
  • Day 3 - Walk to Invercauld Bridge and a to visit Braemar Castle on Royal Deeside.
Views from the Graham Creag Bhalg  Scottish Cairngorms
The views from the Graham Creag Bhalg over the Cairngorm mountains which soon will be covered in snow.

What's a Graham?

The Munros are the highest of Scotland's mountains, 283 mountain tops named after the man who first catalogued them, Sir Hugh Munro and they are among the finest mountains in Scotland.  The Corbetts are the equivalent mountains, 221 in total with altitudes between 2500ft and 3000ft and the Grahams, 224 in total are between 2000ft and 2500ft. Whilst smaller in stature many Corbetts and Grahams rival Munros for walking and climbing. 

Well on Sunday evening he finally arrived home with just a few blisters, tired, hungry and with lots of tales to tell.   He checked for ticks on his clothes and then sat down to a very late Sunday dinner.  The kit then got washed and whatever I managed to get into that wash it turned every thing a blue colour.  It wasn't heather dye but 1 pair of trousers that was the culprit! 

Interested in this topic?  You might enjoy another article that I've written
Thanks for stopping by today and I would love to hear from you.  Please feel free to leave any questions or feedback in the comments section.

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Rosie is a passionate wildlife gardener in Scotland, a Perthshire / Tayside flower and garden photographer and writer.  She enjoys soaking up nature in her own garden and is easily distracted from doing the weeding by anything that buzzes, creeps, crawls or flutters. She enjoys sharing the beauty of creation through her photography.

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Oh to be sixteen, I did much the same at that age, as well as a lot of other stuff which I wouldn't mention. Terrific pictures of one of Scotlands land of the awful weather, fortunately Aberdeen doesn't quite get the severity of the highland winter. Thanks for the mention Rosie.

wonderful photos of scotland and a brave mother as well as her son!
Thankyou for such an interesting post.

Wonderful pictures. Heather is lovely, a true carpet of colour. I always learn something when I come to your blog. Lol.

My youngest is doing her gold Duke of Edinburgh in October. A bit late in the year I think but I'm sure she will manage. She has loved doing the bronze and silver. They get such a lot out of it. It is very good for them.

Yours son took some great pictures. Love heather, it is such a beautiful plant and has many uses. Bought some heather jewelry, from Heather Gems, while visiting Scotland. Take care:)

I believe the first time I noticed heather was when I saw a movie filmed amid a field of heather. It went on and on. Thanks for showing some more heather lovely!!!

I remember doing a similar trip to the Brecon Beacons when I was about 10 years old, back before the age of cell phones, and being THRILLED to have no contact with my parents for the entire week! ;) I hope he fun, goodness knows the scenery couldn't have been better, the photographs are stunning. I haven't seen a really good swath of heather in so many years. I'm definitely long overdue for a trip back to Scotland. Thank you for sharing.

Great tour Rosie!
I love the look of heather and did try to grow it here many years ago with no success. They even sell it as potted indoor plants here around the Easter holidays and probably others.

It is lovely to see it in it's natural environment.


I took some similar photos today up Glen Esk ,in Angus.. One of my favourite times of year.

When I was reading the post, it was if I was reading it with an Irish dialect. Fun! Very enjoyable.

What the adventure! How wonderful that you can be a mother who lets her son go venturing. I hope to be so brave in 15 years!

Thank you for sharing the photos. All I have to think about on that topic is the rather silly/romantic song from the musical Brigadoon, "The heather on the hill". I would love to see the real thing someday!

Such beautiful terrain... austere and yet inviting...Larry

Rosie, Scotland is truly beautiful! Loved going through these images and reading about your 16 year old's adventure. He did a great job with the photos. I really like your collage!

All great pics, Rosey! There's almost a painting like quality to the big shots of the fields. I really liked the images in your 3x3 arrangement.

I have always loved heath and heather, but never been able to keep it alive here in our horrid humidity. Scotland looks very wild, I can almost see Sir William Wallace walking over the top of those hills!

Hi Rosie,

Thank you for leaving a comment on my blog. I had a great time stopping on the road and taking the pictures. The last picture of the creek was quite difficult, but I got it.

You have a great blog. Looks like we have things in common. You said you would take pictures in brackets, what does that mean? Thanks, Rebecca.

Hello Rosie how are you. I have been out for a while too. Thanks for letting us to your heathers and topographies which i always read but not seen,haha. I am sure you were also worried about your kid when away without communications. My niece is 15 and i often call to ask how she is, even if i am not the mother. Fortunately, their phones are allowed during camping, turned off only when in session. So i timed my calls or texts during meals. Thanks for your son's photos.

Your post and your son's photos made me smile. I think my attempts at pronouncing the mountain and area names would make you smile. gail PS My son had a similar experience during his gap year~It was life changing for my then 18 yr old.

Dear Rosie, What a wonderful experience for your son! I shared his photographs with my husband who is proud to have Scottish heritage -- lovely images. P. x

That sounds like your son had a great experience Rosie, although I'm sure he could have done without the midges. Oh yes, I remember midges! Wonderful photos, to be sure.

I love this post! I've been lucky enough to see the fields of Heather on a trip to the UK once and it was at the end of August - beginning of September too. Looks like a fabulous place and your photos are lovely!

Heather does not really grow here very well, but I would love to live a place it does. Gorgeous.

What an amazing experience! The place looks awesome.
The pictures are so beautiful, but I hsve fallen in love with the way you organiz¡se them in collages. Love them!