We are delighted to share this second piece in the series by Ally, one of our regular guests at Ben Lawers, Shoreside on Loch Tay.
Alexander Whytock o’ Blairgowrie
I love a tranquil holiday. That wonderful feeling of awakening realisation that today is not a work day. A day with no big plans, no rush and being here at Loch Tay. I ease myself up the stairs, open the balcony door, and take in my first panorama of the day. I perceive the newness of unveiling morning scene, with colours and shapes of deep clarity, as if drawn for the first time.
I am drawn down to the loch. Here at Shoreside, there is a small pier, a timber jetty that slopes down into the waters. As I step onto it, the jetty takes me out, deeper and closer to the heart of this natural mirror. With a sense of being enveloped into something greater, at the end of the jetty I sit down, relaxed, void of all intrusive thoughts, just enjoying the brightening day. The jetty is made from strong wood, weathered by sun, water and wind; sometimes partly submerged by turbulent wintry waters, re-emerging, having strong foundations, recovered and refreshed. The jetty carries you to the heart of the matter, providing a portal towards private moments of refreshing joy and serenity.
Looking across the loch, the tips of the hills are defined by the light of the rising sun, lifting the veils weaved by the dawn mists that regularly drift through the hillside forests. As the air is gently warmed by the sun’s rising, the early morning stillness is stirred by the sound of distant cattle, making their way down, for their morning water. Resonating gently across the valley, the lowing of the cattle enhances a sense of remoteness, which is then contrasted by a sense of closeness as their deep voices echo and entwine with the gathering chirps and tweets, that ebbing and flowing of the morning bird chorus.
The stirring of the air is reflected by the stirring of the waters. On a summer’s morn, of little breeze, the loch will be flat calm, still and deep. Reflecting the hills, as a near perfect mirror, the gathering morning will gently wisp the waters into serene patterns. From stillness to a gentle ripple, the patterns will flow and ebb across the surface, stirring the reflection, complementing the lifting mists and the gathering dawn chorus.
For those mornings of light drizzle rain, warm humid air and still waters, the fish will rise, close to the shore, seeking what insects are caught in the tension of the surface or those that skate across or hover above. With a soft plop, the fish will feed, causing little ripples to grow and then fade into the expanse of the loch.
On a brisk, breezy morning, the surface undulates with wavelets, white tipped as the wind catches the water. The loch is active, the movement stirs the heart as the waters are stirred, wavelets rise and fall, obscuring perception of depth and reflection of the sky and surrounding hills.
Though all inspire, my favourite morning is the summer’s morning, late July to early August, when the coolness of the night gives way to the warmth of the day. Sitting on the jetty, pondering nothing but the joyful immersion, a great sense of being rises within me. The joy is to be within something greater, partly in a sentient way but mostly in a basic belonging to, without being a distinctive intruder of, this natural environment. I rejoice in this belonging without hubris or vanity.
Cherishing, each new experience as it comes, those little things: the young osprey learning to fish as a vigilant parent soars above; the aerial antics of swifts and swallows as they soar and dip across above water, competitively mirroring the skillful darting trout below the surface; and offshore, a family of huddling ducks and ducklings, wary of the intense eyes of a rock bound heron, a grey standing and silent sentinel.
With these experiences, from the end of this humble jetty, I am grateful to bear witness to the beauty of Loch Tay.