Thursday, 21 November 2019

Smoke on the water

You certainly won't find a casino on the shoreline, or a stylish town, but in the right conditions you may get to see "smoke on the water" at Slattadale on the shore of Loch Maree.  Lorna, Allan and I drove from Gairloch to Slattadale for a second day of paddling in what we hoped would be superb autumn conditions.

Slattadale catches the morning sunshine, which was melting away the frost of a cold night.  As the water was retaining some of summer's warmth and was several degrees warmer than the air, conditions were right for the particular sort of mist known as "frost smoke". 

Although strictly speaking the term describes frozen water vapour over the sea, sharply cold air over the fresh water of Loch Maree was producing a similar effect.  Beautiful and ethereal, the mist dissipated as soon as it was touched by the morning sun.

Autumn was everywhere; bright "hips" on a wild rose bush glowed like beacons, frost on the branches melting to silvered droplets of water.

Over all, the impressive presence of Slioch dominates the far end of the loch.  Although the mountain seems close by, it's over 12 kilometres away.

When we got onto the water and paddled away from the shore, the view behind us was of stunning autumnal colour...the purple "bloom" of birches which had already shed their leaves, the green of spruces and the dazzling gold of larches; it was going to be a great day......


  1. Lovely photos. I take it you can paddle on Loch Maree ok outside of the breeding season for G.N.D,? as I noticed last time kayaking on Loch Lomond the National Park there has now banned/requested you from exploring certain islands that we used to explore no problem to protect Capercaillie and Ospreys as well as a lot of other restrictions on the loch that didn't exist before.

  2. Hi Bob, there's been long-standing guidance on avoiding the breeding season for Divers on Maree - in the bad old days paddling at any time was "discouraged"! The NNR office at Beinn Eighe are a good source of information, but there's no issue paddling in the autumn.