This is a photo that would never have happened, had it not been for a car accident and hunger!
Prepare for clouds hanging low over the mountains, a single track, untamed road, with no easy passing places, and to have your wits about you.
Can you believe it! Out here, in one of the most spectacular places in Scotland, in the Scottish Highlands, in the bitter cold, in the middle of nowhere, there was a van that had somehow ended up in a ditch, making the already difficult route even harder to negotiate.
The famous Glen Etive Road, or ‘Skyfall Road’ as it is now known, in the Glencoe mountain range, is used to stunning, dramatic effect in the James Bond film Skyfall. Some scenes from that film took place along the river, which at the time of my visit, was in full spate, fast flowing and swollen. You could hear it thundering along, crashing and cascading over rocks and branches, with its rapids and waterfalls. Not only that, I could see water pouring down over bare rocks on the hillsides, making mini waterfalls. Birds of prey are heard crying out as they hunt. Elusive Golden Eagles live here.
Various Harry Potter films were made in this location. In Prisoner of Azkaban you will discover that this is the film set of Hagrid's Hut and the bridge leading to the entrance to Hogwarts. The Half-Blood Prince scenes were also filmed here. Other films that have been shot on this site are Rob Roy, My Name is Joe and Braveheart.
Ian Fleming, the Scot and creator of the character James Bond, the stylish, extravagant, high-living, British Secret Service Agent ‘007’, family’s home is near the end of the road. There is no wonder he was so full of inspiration. This scenery is so inviting.
In the Summer months, when it is hot, you can linger, over a picnic, to drink in the atmosphere, enjoying the breath-taking scenery in this magical valley.
Winter months are often bleak and savagely cold, and you cannot remain here, unmoving, for long. However, these months make the scenery more dramatic, as the mountains can be seen in all their glory, covered in snow, like royal icing on a wedding cake.
I would recommend this place 100 percent. The serenity and the beautiful seclusion, if you get to be on your own out here, leads to an amazing atmosphere.
I had seen the film Bambi, Prince of the Forest, at some point in my childhood and this event brought me closer to wild Deer than I had ever been in my life. In the British Isles man is the Deer’s biggest stalker and hunter and that brought me back to my thoughts, as a little boy, about what I had learned from that educational film.
“My heart ‘s in the Highlands, my heart is not here. My Heart ‘s in the Highlands a-chasing the deer.” Robert Burns
I have always loved Deer, Scottish wild Red Deer, especially, as they are Scotland’s largest Deer. The males have incredibly large antlers, which increase in size with age, and can look like small, ornate, tree branches on which you can imagine colourful Christmas baubles dangling down from.
How I took this photo:
Because of the accident, on a tight, single-track road, with narrow passing places, a change of direction occurred and a chance stop happened. After seeing the incredible sight of a Deer herd right in front of the path of the car, and in the lowland valley, eagerly tugging at blades of lush longer grass, the car came to a swift halt. This herd were so hungry and because of this, extremely close. Out of the car, the air was fresh and biting. It was bitter cold for me. I was wrapped in many layers of clothing, with an additional layer of outer waterproofs, as the weather was cruel, with icy rain that kept on driving in. These mountainous regions are prone to frosts and snowfall at night-time, over many months of the year, and the bad weather can catch you out as it is so changeable.
I was watching this group of wild males (called stags or harts) and females (called hind).
When out of the vehicle, I thought the Deer would run away from me, however their stomachs had the better of them, and they remained, closely watching and monitoring my every move.
As I was getting ready to take photos of the Deer, I reached into my pocket for a spare camera battery and, without meaning to, created a rustling noise. An empty packet of crisps, I had eaten earlier, remained in my pocket. Inquisitively, the Deer started walking towards me, wanting to know what I had for them, hoping for food.
There were two bedraggled Red Deer which caught my eye and I focused all of my attention on them. They had so much spirit. They were wearing their damp, shaggy, winter fur suits. They had long hair on their graceful necks, with delicate curves of their face and smooth chestnut flanks. My gaze moved to their huge liquid brown eyes, a lovely shape to their ears and their unbelievably dark, slender legs. What an exquisite creation! They both look at me intently, twisting their necks to do so, staring me in the eye. I love their pretty tapered noses and I see them for their physical beauty.
Deer are symbols of regeneration and spiritual authority.
With all of that energy, and those four long legs, I realize that they could be off in an instant, far away into the distance, running like the wind, but they need food to survive this long, cold spell, and they do not want to use unnecessary power, which might zap their crucial resources. They know all too well that thick snow, epic to us, is harsh and hostile to them, as it hinders their survival chances. I glance upwards and all around me there is a covering of snow on the higher ground and mountains, and I understand that food is scarce up there, in that hostile environment. They need to concentrate on finding as much grass as they can down here, in the glen, until the better weather arrives and they can move higher up the steep slopes, once more, to graze. You just have to admire their mountaineering skills.
These dark reddish brown Deer, with their pale buff rump and tail sometimes come down to the roadside to lick the salt.
Even though these Deer looked so graceful, and friendly, I knew not to feed my new friends, or try to pat or stroke them or even get a selfie. These are not tame, they are wild animals. In an instant, they can charge you, full on, with their heads down, and you can get badly hurt or worse. Do you know that the antlers of a stag can grow up to 45 inches (115 cm) long and can weigh 11 lb (5 kg)!
I edge, gently, smoothly, closer to the Deer and they to me, curious to check out the rustling sound. They had “No Eye Deer (Two)” what is was!
They keep walking towards me, checking me out, and I am now speaking to them, in a soft whisper, not wanting to scare them. I name them Bruce (after Robert The Bruce) and Mary (after Mary, Queen of Scots). They are so special, they seem so gentle and demure.
I was hand holding my camera, taking my images and my fingers were freezing cold, white and numb. These magnificent creatures were not a bit bothered by the bitter cold and I envied them their warm, thick, waterproof coats and their care-free attitudes.
Suddenly, the scene before me made thoughts go running through my head of the iconic Harris Tweed. This is the world famous cloth, which comes from only one place in the whole world, Harris, with an Act of Parliament brought into being to protect its unique product from being copied. The cloth is warm and hard wearing, with a rich heritage of family generations of weavers going back hundreds of years. The colors of Harris Tweed are heavily influenced by the rich colors of nature, in the ever-changing seasons, and it is a sign of sophistication and durability.
Why was I thinking about Tweed? Because the colors of the landscape and the Deer in front of me reminded me of a certain color palette of reddish, medium olive green, mustard yellow, mid-browns and camel tones, or those colors in a warming, hearty, autumn dish of food, such as pumpkin soup or a lovely curry, and I craved for that food right now.
Light and weather dominate this dramatic mountainous area, allowing you to experience mood and history.
Standing here in this scene it is hard to believe that I am not in a painting.
The gift that presented itself to me was clearly in front of my eyes.
I worked some magic with my camera settings and my lens and then the time had come.
CLICK! I had captured this peaceful image of Bruce and Mary, frozen forever in time, and they have become immortalized in an Abstract piece of art and a magical memory to always treasure.
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