What the Commuter Saw : The Flow Country

I’ve been to a workshop, then doing fieldwork, up in the Flow Country for the past week. I’ll explore what we did in a later post. For the moment I’m just going to post images grabbed during the 16-hour train journey from Colchester to Thurso, a journey that began at dawn in Colchester but as night fell I was still an hour away from Thurso, so the last part of the journey (through the Flow Country) was completed in darkness, alas.
The route was Colchester, Peterborough via Ipswich, Edinburgh, Inverness, Thurso. Interesting to see oil-seed rape (colourful, but depressing in terms of biodiversity) all the way from Colchester right up into Sutherland (as always, click on image to see full view; browser back-arrow to close image):
Journey began through the mists of the North Essex and Suffolk coast at Manningtree, heading towards Ipswich:
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After Ipswich the train headed off westwards across country towards Peterborough, and, although there’s the odd oil-seed rape field, it’s clear that there’s been much ploughing in recent weeks:
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By the time we’d arrived at Peterborough to join the Virgin East Coast Line, the sun was well up, and the journey northwards as far as Newcastle was a patchwork of green fields with (possibly) winter wheat alternating with the blazing yellow of oil-seed rape fields:
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The sky hazed over after Newcastle and created some rather interesting spectral landscapes:
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Then, at Edinburgh, the train to Inverness was just about to leave when a crowd of young lads piled on staggering under the weight of multi-pack lager boxes, so I spent the whole journey to Inverness wedged against the door being blasted by music from their portable speaker/iPhone combo. Several passengers complained but it made not a bit of difference. Consequently I only managed one half-decent photo and missed the various views that I’d been planning to catch. Rather frustrating, but at least I managed one over towards the Cairngorms near Loch Insh:
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Dusk was approaching as we left Inverness, and by the time we’d passed Invergordon there were various interesting skies developing, including some rather fine altocumulus lenticularis clouds formed over the distant hills:
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Crossing the Kyle of Sutherland (which flows out into the Dornoch Firth) just before Invershin, the light seemed to increase slightly:
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Then the cloud thickened and the last of the light faded as we went past the 100-foot high statue of the much-reviled Duke of Sutherland (due to his role in the Highland Clearances – his reasons are open to debate but the effects of his actions are not), perched on Ben Bhraggie overlooking Golspie:
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Author: Richard Lindsay

Having worked for 20 years in the UK statutory nature conservation agencies as Peatland Specialist in the Chief Scientist Team, I then moved to the University of East London where I ran the nature conservation degrees for several years. Now I mainly undertake research and support peatland conservation activities, including the IUCN UK Peatland Programme, within UEL's Sustainability Research Institute. I also paint.

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