Dawn had not yet broken when I left home to travel to the ferry terminal. As I moved down off high ground a lone Woodcock fled its nightime feeding area and moved east to the conifer plantations in which it would spend the day. Later, as I wound my way northwards up the Rinns, a large Red Deer stag nonchalantly wandered out from a field gate in the half light causing more than a little apprehension!! They're more a nuisance at dawn than at night when they tend just to stare at you from the fields and all you see is "bright eyes"! Their nightly movements from dense cover onto convenient farmland grazing is a regular feature and something to be vigilant about.
The sea looked grey and forbidding, with the early part of the voyage a little lumpy, although the final part was quite calm and even the sun broke through. The journey across Argyll was picture post card quality with the landscape bathed in weak sun and the snow capped uplands providing a backcloth to it all. Despite all the recent wintry weather Moles ( which we don't have on Islay ) had obviously been active with long lines of "hills" along various stretches of the roadside verges.
The journey up the latter part of the Rest and Be Thankful Pass saw a brilliant wall of light appear between a couple of high interlocking spurs. It was bright and extensive and of sheer Hollywood quality, almost raising an expectation of some magical figure like Merlin suddenly emerging with stick in hand!! Soon, with the potentially worst part of the journey completed, although with no snow and the landslide threat seemingly under control little disruption was likely anyway, all that remained was to address the long motorway haul southwards down to West Yorkshire. Despite all the warnings I finally arrived safely to be greeted by a couple of inches of snow and freezing conditions.
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