Home at last after a long four months working away, the perfect way to settle back in seemed to be a riverside stroll. After looking at wide and empty horizons for so long, the intimate surroundings of Glen Tanar provided a beautiful contrast. We started near Bridge o' Ess and walked along the minor road up the glen to the old pack bridge which gives access to a small visitor centre before heading back downstream along the Water of Tanar.
The river is at a low summer level, much different than the brawling spates of late winter when huge boulders can be moved downstream. The Tanar is born high in the hills which separate Deeside from the Angus Glens and starts life as a typical highland stream before passing through pinewoods to join the River Dee near Aboyne.
There are quiet pools in the river in which we saw lots of tiny Brown Trout, and sections of moving water running gently over granite boulders.
The late summer flowers were in full bloom - this I think is Creeping Forget-Me-Not (Mysotosis secunda)
A much easier one to identify here, Common Knapweed (Centaurea nigra), also known as "hardheads" and used by generations of small boys to hit each other with!
Here and there under the birches and alders of the riverbank were small stands of beautiful Bluebells. the nomenclature is slightly confusing - the "official" name for this plant is Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia) and it is also known as Scottish Bluebell to distinguish it from the slightly smaller and more brilliantly blue flower known here as "English Bluebell".
Whatever name you use, the fragile beauty of the flowers is a joy.
In a slightly more open area we found the delicate flowers of Herb-Robert ( Geranium robertianum). This plant has a traditional use to treat toothache and nosebleeds, and has an unusual odour of burning rubber when the leaves are crushed, the source of another common name of "stinking bob".
The wildflowers were attracting butterflies too. Under the more open pinewood we saw several species including several Ringlets (Aphantopus hyperantus). A recent colonist in the Cairngorms region, the caterpillars of this butterfly feed on grasses rather than specific food plants.
Soon we were back at Bridge o' Ess; it had been a great short walk and the feast of colour and greenery along with the gentle flow of the river had definitely eased the jet lag!