Saturday 11 June 2016

Just a wee snippet of 'North Coast 500'

The big news in this neck of the woods is the success so far of 'North Coast 500' - the new name given to the roads following the coast around the north of Scotland. The route goes through Lochcarron, but this week Peter and I decided to head north for a few days to sample some different North Coast delights. And of course I took my sketch book with me.

On Tuesday we headed for the area around Kylesku and Scourie and the sun was shining its heart out. Now, I love the drama of the landscape around Kylesku but it was looking positively cheerful this time.  I would have preferred a little more moodiness, but that's no excuse!  And anyway Quinag and the other nearby hills still provide a dramatic backdrop.

Here's my initial sketch of Quinag from Kylesku. I hadn't realised how much it dominates the local landscape. Feel so smug to have climbed it already - well...two of the three tops. Great to see it in its proper context. Must go back and do that top that I missed out!  Next time....

Sitting in the same spot, I did this quick sketch looking up Loch Gleann Dubh. A bit featureless, but I really wanted an accurate contextual sketch for future reference.

Then we went across to Kylestrome and I sketched a panoramic sitting on the shore, looking back south over Kylesku and Loch Glencoul towards what I now think must be the Stack of Glencoul.It's such an iconic little top.

Further north, we found ourselves at Badcall Bay - it wasn't bad at all really (haha).  An array of pretty little islands.  The outlook from Upper Badcall is quite lovely, but lower down the islands look better, I think, against the backdrop of the Drumbeg and Stoer peninsula.  Very sheltered and somewhat midgy.

On Wednesday we wanted to climb something and luckily it was not so hot and sunny.  Ben Stack beckoned. We took the eastern route - the long way up - and were rewarded by some fine easterly views, like this one, looking down Loch More and the smaller loch in front, Loch nan Ealachan. They were interesting views with cloud waterfalls coming over a few of the cols as the day started to warm up a little.

It was a bit gloomy on Wednesday, so my sketch of Foinaven and Arkle from the summit of Ben Stack is somewhat lacking in brightness and hasn't really captured the essence of these stark and chunky hills. But it was worth a try.

The sun was back on Thursday and we were on the road coming south again, but to Achiltibuie, stopping for sketches and photos. Drumbeg was the first stop for a sketch - the view back to Badcall and Eddrachillis Bay, Handa Island in the far distance.

Clashnessie was the next sketching stop. Had to be a colour sketch here, but I found the pastels a bit frustrating for capturing the intensity of the colours. Maybe I was just being too hesitant in using them.

After Lochinver, I couldn't resist getting the watercolours out when I saw this view. There's a lovely spot on the road where you can see Stac Pollaidh, Cul Beag and Cul Mor all lined up, but I couldn't fit them all on the sketch, despite the fact I used a large piece of paper.  I'll leave you to guess which of the hills I've depicted here....

Finally, after so many stops, we arrived at Achiltibuie in glorious sunshine. Only managed one small sketch of the Summer Isles - hard to do them justice on such a perfect, lovely day. I do want to return and spend more time drawing and painting in and around there.  One day soon, I hope. Maybe in winter?

Friday we came home, but we did manage a short walk before we got to Ullapool, down to an old fort, Dun Canna, now reduced to a large pile of boulders. This is, however, a fantastically exposed viewpoint where you can look southwest over the sea towards An Teallach and the surrounding hills, and so that was the obvious subject of my last sketch - trying hard to get the right tonal values.

This was a great wee break and I'm so glad to have gathered a few sketches. I'm hoping that this will re-energise my painting efforts as well as providing some material for new prints.  Time to get down to work!