My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture, and things in the broader realm of the Gothic and darkly Romantic. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

Goth is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, the expression of that in Goth rock. It looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Siouxsie, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, et al) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. The Gothic should not be limited by what is already within it; inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Trip To Dundreggan With Trees for Life

I will unashamedly say that I think Scotland is Paradise. If it wasn't for the lack of mead and boar, I'd say this was the afterlife and that I'm already dead :P 

Today I went to the Dundreggan Estate (::read more here::) to help with the efforts of replanting the Caledonian forest. I left Inverness train-station at 09:00 this morning, so I was up fairly early in order to get ready and to the city for that. The journey to Dundreggan was certainly scenic. I saw deer. It was a silvery landscape; everything was covered in glittering crystals of hoar-frost. Mist from the sea, the lochs and the rivers hung trapped between the mountains. Things are beginning to look distinctly wintery, but the snows haven't come this far down yet; the peaks shine white, but the slopes and the valleys are still autumnal.

River Moriston

Dundreggan Lodge was at the end of a lovely drive, shrouded in mist. Things were less wintery, more autumnal - the trees have golden leaves, which have begun to fall, and the grass, while frosty, was definitely not snowy. At the lodge we went indoors for a cup of tea, and a discussion of the plan of action. The discussion turned to life in bothies, being snowed in, and living in winter without running water and being cut off from modern life - I recalled fond memories of Raven's parent's farm in Wales, during deepest winter. I met a Buddhist lady, talked about life, and eyed up the Lodge's piano (but didn't touch!). 

Misty Avenue
We then went to the tree nursery, where I observed young saplings being tended, before heading off to the carpark to get organised. I borrowed some waterproof trousers, and hopped into a minibus that took us further up the mountain. Our trip was, for reasons I don't yet know, being filmed. As I got into the minibus after a group had already been filmed getting into it, I had to get out of the minibus, stand out of camera shot, and wait while the minibus was filmed arriving and everyone getting out was filmed, and then the minibus was filmed arriving again, and everyone getting out was filmed... again

We then hiked our way to the exclosure (it's an inclosure if it keeps animals in, this fence was built to keep deer out of where the young saplings were growing, so it is an exclosure), through some very, very lovely countryside. I really, really wish my photographs from my walk by the river, through the trees and up to the exclosure had turned out reasonably well, but sadly they were mostly blurry or badly taken. Instead, have a photograph of some melting hoar-frost. 

Glittery, glittery, glittery.
The exclosure is out on the heather, on some very open and wind-swept slopes.  The view was spectacular, but it isn't a place of many colours, only leaden sky and bronze slopes. 

Trees for Life have so far planted over a million trees - the millionth was planted in May of this year - and today I planted 96 more. Our target for the day was 1,000 trees, and we may well have exceeded it. Our saplings were as 'plug-plants', and all we had to do was dig a hole, put in a sapling, fill in around it, and tap it down - hard to do when the ground is frozen and there are crystals of needle ice growing OUT of it! (Although, when the needle ice formed, the ground had not yet frozen.) I also spent an awful lot of time talking with a chap who turned out to be a fellow LARP enthusiast, gamer, guitar player and person with an interest in swords, knives and weaponry (and who once fenced sabre) - it's amazing the places you meet like-minded folk.

Trying to put up a fence,
Dec '11. Photo by M. Drury
It rained, then sleeted, and I got very wet, and my waterproof trousers proved not to be very water-proof, for water and mud seeped through and my legs got soaked, and then chilled by the cold, cold wind. Tree planting with Trees for Life is certainly a rewarding task, but generally involves mountainous hikes and inclement weather, followed by hard work, so is something for adventurous and outdoorsy types. As well as the day trips like the ones I attend, they also run conservation weeks, with accommodation, for those who would rather do something useful when they take time out of their regular lives. I've been volunteering with Trees for Life since last autumn/winter, and while my trips are always an adventure, and every time I go out I go "I'm never getting that cold and wet EVER again!" and then every time I get the chance to go again, I'm rushing to sign myself up.

I would like to clarify to readers that despite certain rumours, I am not a Pictsie, am very much alive, and am decidedly Franglais. 


  1. It sounds like quite an adventure and certainly a good service to perform. I'm wondering though, what is hoar frost?

    1. Frozen dew, basically. It's when all the plants and ground etc. have got to below freezing point, and so moisture from the air condenses and freezes on them, leaving lots of pretty white ice-crystals.

    2. Interesting, and I can see how it might differ from the frost we get here. Of course, there's no frost to be had around here these days as the temperature is around 25 degrees C. That's good. I'm not ready for winter yet.

    3. Oh, it is far, far, far below 25C here... It only got up and above that a few times during summer.

  2. Lovely shots, glad you had fun but this definitely comes under the category of for the truly insane and yes you are a Pictsie and this part of Scotland is heaven

    1. It's not that bad - it's actually quite enjoyable. If you're fit, capable of walking up steep slopes in wet and windy weather, and of carrying stuff, then it's a challenge, but fun.


Please be polite and respectful. Comments containing gratuitous swearing and insults will be deleted.