Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Autumn colors in Scotland

Okay, okay, it's no longer autumn. I get it. It's the winter solstice, and I've dawdled too long on collecting all these photos for a post.

And now we're all in the mode for winter and the holidays. It's time for pictures of snow, colorful decorations, beautiful families gathered 'round a roaring hearth.

Too bad, dagnabbit. These are some pretty pictures, and that's what counts, right?

We had a fairly cold and wet summer in Scotland, followed by a relatively warm and sunny autumn. According to the never-wrong internets, these are good conditions for a colorful fall display. Where the autumn colors on America's east coast tend to get a dazzling fall display, the usual colors in Scotland seem drab by comparison.

Not this year.

Abbotsford in autumn
Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott.
Generally, in the Scottish lowlands the leaves don't start to change colors until late September. Many trees don't give a hint of turning until well into October. Here's a waterfall on the River Clyde, the Corra Linn (in Scots, "linn" means waterfall), and the nearby UNESCO World Heritage site of New Lanark, at the end of September:

Corra Linn on the River Clyde
The Corra Linn falls, at 84 feet, rank as Scotland's fourth highest.
New Lanark mills
New Lanark, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is just a short distance downstream from the Corra Linn waterfall.
I mentioned we enjoyed a healthy dollop of sunshine this fall. Here was a sunny day in Edinburgh in mid-October:

blue skies over Arthur's Seat
Not every autumn in Scotland gets much blue sky. But this year blue skies made some starring appearances, like this day over Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh.
autumn colors around Craigmillar Castle
A vibrant day around Craigmillar Castle in Edinburgh.
And of course our autumn showcased a smorgasbord of color:

colorful contrast at Abbotsford
I loved the contrast of Abbotsford's gray walls with the color-dripping flora surrounding it.
sunset in Glasgow
I shot this glorious sunset from our house in Glasgow.
waterfall in Glencoe
Without many trees, the ground cover in Glencoe takes on a starring role.
one of the Three Sisters of Glencoe
Kate organized the British Society of Veterinary Pathology's annual meeting, and snagged her former professor from NC State as the headliner. His visit was a great excuse to take one last jaunt into Glencoe — here at the Three Sisters and the highlands before we moved to Bristol.
As you can see, not every day was sunny with blue skies. Gray, cloudy, and ominous are more frequent autumn descriptors. One day in October, I tried to visit Inchmahome Priory, a ruin on an island in the middle of the Lake of Monteith. (Incidentally, here's a great trivia question for you: What is the only lake in Scotland? The Lake of Monteith. Everything else is called a loch.) It was so foggy that the boats wouldn't take me to the priory. I had to come back later in the week.

fog over the Lake of Monteith
Fog, like here at the Lake of Monteith, is a regular morning feature of Scottish autumn mornings.
Never fear, however. Blue skies made sure to blast through on other mornings:

Dunfermline Abbey in autumn
Dunfermline Abbey holds the tomb of Robert the Bruce. Note the "King Robert" carved into the central tower.
Melrose Abbey, one of the glorious Border Abbey ruins, is gorgeous at any time of year. But I think it's at its best in autumn. Take a gander at the fall colors around the abbey:

Melrose Abbey with autumn leaves
Melrose Abbey with scattered autumn leaves.
enjoying a beautiful fall afternoon
Kate and Jackson share a giggle on the abbey's grounds.
Melrose Abbey with fall colors
Fall colors surround Melrose Abbey.
One of Edinburgh's best places for autumn leaves is the Princes Street Gardens, which provides a buffer between Edinburgh's Old Town and New Town. I strolled through at the tail end of October, a bit after the fall peak but nonetheless still vivid:

autumn splendor in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh
Above the gardens looms the Royal Mile, with the tower of St. Giles' Cathedral piercing the skyline.
Edinburgh Castle from Princes Street Gardens in autumn
A section of Edinburgh Castle peeks through the fall foliage.
In early November, I made a last few excursions around Glasgow before we moved to Bristol. These final two photos I took with my old iPhone:

autumn trees along the River Kelvin in Glasgow
Colorful trees surround the River Kelvin in Glasgow. By this point of fall, we had used up all our blue sky.
Kelvingrove Museum in autumn
I love the rich color of the Kelvingrove Museum, especially in autumn.
And that was our third and final autumn in Scotland, definitely the most colorful of the three. While I'm looking forward to new places to explore here in southwestern England, I'm bittersweet about leaving beloved Scotland behind.

It'll be hard for next autumn to compete.

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