My hopes of a day hillwalking were washed away overnight as the Assynt area was hammered by strong winds and truly torrential rain. The morning was very wet with cloudbases down to less than 300 metres - not ideal for any hill, but when much of the joy of Assynt hillwalking is in the extraordinary views I wasn't encouraged to get out.
Driving back on the A835 road towards Inverness and descending off the higher ground, there's a Forest Enterprise car park between Garve and Contin which gives access to some short walks based around Rogie Falls. I was keen to get at least a short walk and parked up to wander down to the falls. It proved to be a good decision.......
The falls themselves are just ten minutes walk from the busy route into the Highlands - but a world away. The traffic noise is soon left behind and different senses are assaulted; the autum colours were simply gorgeous.
The warm orange of the beeches was set against the glowing yellow of the birches and backed by the green of spruces, alders and pines.
Down in the cleft near the falls the light itself seemed to be changed by the intensity of this pyrotechnic autumnal display
A suspension bridge crosses the Black Water below the falls and gives a super view. In spate, the falls are fearsome and the spray easily reaches the bridge. There were several folk enjoying just watching and photographing the colourful scene, but it seems that most visitors just walk to the falls and return by the same route. I wanted a little more exercise and so crossed the bridge and explored the woods a bit urther.
The colours beneath the trees were just as vibrant as the leaves which were still to fall. These Sycamore leaves were every shade from faded green through yellow and red to a deep nut-brown. The distinctive smell of a damp autumn wood was everywhere.
Re-crossing the bridge, I walked up the bank of the river to get above the falls. The water was deeply peat stained to a degree where even the "white" water rushing down faults in the rock was a pale coffee colour.
Just as I was preparing to head off back to the car park, a sudden break in the clouds allowed sun to stream through and illuminate a beech tree at the edge of the falls to an incredibly bright shade. An American couple standing near me on the bridge were the only other folk to share this transitory slice of autumn glory.
Just ten minutes from the road, the Rogie Falls has to be one of the better "service stations" !