Monday was the perfect combination of winter chill and dazzling sunshine, so I decided to take my mum and the dog to two of my favourite wild spots down in the Cairngorms.
Looking like a blue pawprint when seen on a map, the Uath (pronounced ‘wah’) Lochans are four small pools bordered by pines. Their surfaces are sometimes wobbled by goldeneye ducks but they mostly stay mirror-steady, reflecting the trunks standing around them.
There are two short waymarked trails that can easily be combined into a meandering loop. One threads between the lochans, following compacted earth paths and sections of boardwalk over boggy pools. The other climbs a brief incline, offering an eagle’s eye view over carpets of pine and further into the mountains.
Less than three miles north, the Frank Bruce Sculpture Collection is a series of artworks that have been carved into wood and stone, destined to eventually rot and fade back into their woodland surroundings.
Because the carvings are natural, they have excellent camouflage and some are trickier to find than others. It takes a while for your eyes to adjust before you can pick out sculpted faces and hands among all the other trunks. A needle in haystack situation!
It’s possible to walk a small loop here too, following a stretch of the River Feshie as it tumbles over pale shingle. The river sparkled and the trees beyond shimmered in the winter sunlight.
Although the sun was boiling as it streamed through the car windows, outside was a different matter, so once the chill began to seep through our clothes we returned home. The winter light persisted until the very last moment and I wandered up to the headland to watch the sun set. It’s not often I spend a day without looking at screens, so it was a welcome treat.