August brings the heather into full bloom and transforms the hills. In this image there are two types, Bell Heather (Erica cinerea) in the foreground and Common Heather or Ling (Calluna Vulgaris) beyond. Eastern Scotland provides ideal growing conditions for both species and close up they are bright and vibrant.
On the landscape scale, even on a cloudy day, the hills are a rich purple. The dominant sound on an afternoon walk around the Correen ridge was the hum of bees working the heather plants - bees from the same hives may visit the flowers in our garden in the valley below these hills.
A calm and sunny day the following weekend gave some really good conditions for sea kayaking on the Moray Firth coast - it's not far from home and all the better for that! The Bow Fiddle Rock is the outstanding feature of this part of the coast.......
...and more than a few caves and tunnels, lit with luminous light in the summer sunshine.....all in an afternoon's paddling.
A recent find for us are the Tarland Trails, a series of mountain bike trails just outside the Cromar village of Tarland. Just twenty minutes away by car, the trails are a super facility with a mix of family-friendly and challenging routes through a mixed wood.
We enjoyed the "Puddock" skills area and the Blue (Moderate) rated "Spiky Hedgehog" run - a fast, sweeping singletrack descent with curves, rollers and berms.....
.....which was huge fun!
As much as I love to explore new places, it's so good to be reminded of what's close to home - and I'll never take that for granted.