On a gloriously hot and sunny afternoon in June we revisited beautiful Glen Roy. Turning onto the A86 at Spean Bridge and heading towards Roy Bridge, you pass Inverroy on the right and just before Roy Bridge you come to a turning with a small single track road - passing places only - leading approximately 9 miles into Glen Roy.
This little road takes you through the spectacular Glen Roy ‘ice age landscape’. Mountains rise on each side, as the little road twists and wines deeper into the heart of this wonderful Glen. It must be stated now that this adventurous road is not for the faint hearted. The passing places can sometimes be few and far between and there are significant/dangerous shear drops, hundreds of feet deep at numerous places along the route. Fortunately, Glen Roy is more for the serious connoisseurs of Highland adventure and isn’t over populated with too many innocent novices/ tourists travelling in blissful ignorance of the ‘single track road survival code’. In defence of all tourists - the economy of Scotland would grind to a halt without them - we had to say over the years we have met many delightful and charming people, overawed by the beautiful landscape and always willing to have a friendly chat and ask advice. Hopefully we in our turn have always been friendly and able to help and offer the best advice when asked.
Just past Bohuntine there is a car park, were anyone wishing to walk or climb in this spectacular landscape may do so whilst parking in safety.
Our destination was a few miles further on from the car park. We were headed to a particular area where the magical River Roy - which flows the length of the Glen - passes through a series of small, but fascinating rock formations. Parking on a safe area off the road we headed down the hill side towards the river. It’s worth mentioning that in places the road rises hundreds of feet above the river and the descent can be very steep and difficult due to corse nature of the terrain. Another reason why Glen Roy tends not to be over populated.
However there is one very adventurous group of people who frequently delight in the pleasure of Glen Roy - the wild water swimmers! For anyone enjoying wild water swimming in Scotland, the River Roy in Glen Roy is well known and an absolute favourite.
Alastair is keen to try this sport, having had several earlier adventure holidays on the Welsh Coast, where he discovered the joys of Co-steering. I have no desire to do any of these exhilarating activities preferring instead to recce the landscape for the best photographic opportunities, with the option to paddle my toes if I feel like it. That’s not to say I won’t - on occasion - risk life and limb if I think there’s a fabulous image worth photographing.
It wasn’t really a surprise then - given the stunning weather - that within 15 mins of our arrival, 3 further vehicles had turned up with various groups of very cheerful people all of whom were heading down towards the river for a spot of WWS! Thank The Lord for Photoshop! Lots of smiles and waving and hellos!
There are many varied and stunning rock formations over which the River Roy flows. The surrounding landscape is ice age. In many places the river is very narrow, less than 6 feet wide, in other parts it widens to over 20. In certain stretches - mainly where the river narrows - there are groups of tiny step waterfalls, some with less than a 2 foot drop. The water is forced between the rocky banks on either side creating beautiful mini Rapids and swirl pools. It was to one of these areas that we were headed.
As with all highland fresh waters the river is dark and peaty. Because of this special quality when you look into the shallows as the sunlight hits the rocks under the surface they shimmer golden and bronze. The effect is mesmerising and very beautiful.
Another magical sight to catch when visiting the River Roy are the fabulous silver stones and pebbles that litter the banks. On a sunny day these shimmer like millions of steely jewels, each one having hundreds of tiny flexes in their composition these reflect light, particularly bright sunlight and dazzle as your eye moves across them. There are literally thousands and thousands of these beautiful stones. They create a carpet of light as you walk across them. This particular phenomenon is always best viewed when the river is quite low and more of the stones are exposed to the sunlight.
One of the loveliest features of the River Roy is that everything is in miniature. The river itself isn't very deep - although there are some deeper dive pool areas, these are easy to spot and can always be navigated. The sheer rock faces rising up from the river aren't very high and it's not difficult to scramble over the majority of rock and boulders that make up the river bed. Everything considered it's a very enjoyable experience. The most difficult part as already mentioned is actually getting to certain parts of the river.
During this visit our aim was to photograph a small section of the river, focusing on certain rock formations, mini waterfalls and the river bead itself. We'd arrived around midday when the sun was still high in the sky, we planned to shoot our chosen area in various stages of light, firstly as it was directly overhead and then as it started to set. Then later shots captured the images as the sun cast shadows at one side, but it remained brightly light at the other. This proved to be very successful. We also balanced on rocks and boulders in the river itself to get very low angle shots.
Shown here are a small selection of images taken from that shoot. We hope to return again soon to River Roy, especially as we're now having a lots of very wet weather and it will be interesting to see the changes in the river after heavy rainfall.
Christine and Alastair