Autumn in Scotland


I’ve been on a northern progress – many sights and beautiful things.  I drove up to Northumberland on Sunday – to a dreamy, romantic place, where we are being asked to design a new house to replace one long since lost, torn down in the 1950s. What a magical place, waiting for new breath to be breathed into old bones.  This was the glasshouse…

This is the walled garden…. The dream.

And from there, north via the Borders, and a passing visit for the first time ever to Perth – which I have been to only on the train before, passing through on my way north. Heaven – like a painting by Algernon Newton. 

I was staying for the night at the fabled Fife Arms in Braemar; beautifully restored, if a little strange, like staying in a nether-nether world perhaps? 

And then over to our castle project, in Royal Deeside – where Rupert Cunningham, our senior director in the office,  has worked tirelessly over the last two years adding this beautiful new wing – on the left of the photograph below, to an ancient tower house which was itself restored from a ruin in the 1970s. The castle looks huge but is deceptive; it really has just one or two rooms on each floor, and the plan was to add a fine new family kitchen – as well as things like utilities, boots rooms and the like.  At last it was finished and time to take some record photographs.  Then, over the bothy. I met Charlie at a quiet spot, Geilston Garden near Helensburgh – where we had a wander through the empty gardens on the brink of being put to bed for winter. 

A magical spot although the house was forlorn, near derelict, and we wondered about its future.  And then we arrived on the west coast that afternoon. We went for a walk down to the Sound of Jura; the clouds and light was magical. 

Storm clouds rolled over the Paps of Jura, but luckily not in our direction.

Home to the bothy – lights glowing in the dusk. Friday was amazingly bright and clear – those magical west coast days which we seem to get so many of us, whether by luck or accident I’m not sure.
We are finally re-roofing the little cottage – we didn’t quite do it right at the start of the job, because we weren’t sure if we were going to build an extension on the back, or not. Now we’ve decided not to – we’re leaving it exactly as is at the moment, the little original two roomed house.  So it’s time to mend the roof. So good that it’s happening at long last! 

We went for a long walk out on the peninsula…

Storm kettle picnic at half way time.

We got up and just at that moment caught a glimpse of a huge school of dolphin, chasing our neighbour Ewan’s boat, out in the Sound of Jura – magical to see. 10 minutes later and they were gone, lost in the distance. And we headed home.  Supper in the pub that night with our neighbours Ross & Mo. Such a happy hilarious night.

Saturday was soft and grey, the air completely still.  We went for a walk in the woods… 

Filled with a magical fungi kingdom…

And later that afternoon we went for another walk down to the stone jetty. 

You can’t see it, really, but what looks like a rock sticking out of the water on the right foreground is actually a seal. 

Sunday was even more still. I’m not sure we’d ever seen the water so mirror-like.  Mist rolled in.  Nothing really happened at all – we stayed still, and we didn’t go anywhere. A very good way to recharge the batteries.

14 comments on this post

  • erik sexton

    hello , are you alright ? i miss reading your posts !

  • bella

    Hi! I just found your blog.
    These beautiful pictures show just how amazing Scotland is! I visited in the spring a few years ago and watching the lambs run around and those beautiful crisp mornings looking at all the hills!
    Id love for you to have a look at and give us some feedback on our new table!

  • Elizabeth Ashby

    My brother-in-law is a volunteer gardener at Geilston – so sad to see the house’s neglect. It used to be lived in by the two old ladies who gave the house to the Scottish National Trust. Next time you’re in the area, do visit the Linn Botanic at Cove Bay (though I see it wasn’t open last year). A magical garden of waterfalls, greenhouses straining over their untended contents, and trees and plants from around the world, previously owned by a plant hunter, whose son tragically died on a plant expedition. The glorious Victorian house at the top of the hill – gently decaying since the owner’s death – has recently been sold along with the land. One can only hope it’s been sold to someone with sufficient cash and interest in the plants. Elizabeth

  • Sarah

    Magical photos, thank you for sharing Ben.

  • Darlene Chandler

    Beautiful pictures, all so serene wth the nature unfolding for the winter approaching. So nice to see all of the vegetation and the garden and homes. Can’t wait to see your new roof you are putting on your place. Nice you are going to keep it as quaint as it is and no additions for the meantime. I live in a big City and all cement, only green spaces these days are becoming hard to find. Lucky my parents are in a big cemetery in the middle of the city and I can escape to nature, otherwise nothing like what you are expressing in your pictures, so I so appreciate your day to day activities and these beautiful nature scenes. Thank you.

  • Diane Keane

    They don’t much go in for trees in Perth, it would appear. I looked up Geilson Gardens, there is a “Friends of” organization so hopefully the house is looked after too. Forlorness seems to be a common attribute of public places these days, often a sign of neglect brought on by the pandemic. I never tire of the primal landscapes around your bothy. Sea, rocks, wide skies and curlews’ cries (are there curlews??) and the soul is given peace. Bless you for sharing it with us, dear Ben.


    Delightful & a touch wistful; your letters are loved here in New Zealand.
    Thank you

  • Rebecca Ellis

    Nothing starts my day with a smile better than in Marblehead, Massachusetts than seeing an email from Ben
    on my computer. Almost like going for a walk, church and mini-vacation all at once. I live for your emails, Ben. Thank you.

  • robert Hartford

    Completely brilliant….I could smell the bog myrtle

    Thanks for a lovely trip

  • Debra

    Really enjoyed your post Ben.I have fallen in love with your little cottages and the views are possibly the best l have ever seen. You are so lucky to visit such wonderful places with work. Scotland looks like another world thank you for sharing your wonderful life.

  • Deborah Wagner

    The scenery up there is breathtakingly beautiful. Deborah

  • kim kressenberg

    It’s like stepping into a fairytale there! ❤️


    Thank for all your lovely posts over the months, always worth reading! And super photos… really enjoy.

  • Charlotte

    As I wait for pathology results this afternoon, I look at these last images and feel this is where I would rather be. Still, by the water, nature going about its business, she and I in peaceful embrace.
    So I shall forget about trying to work today as a distraction, pull my wellies on and go for a long walk.
    Thank you from another Dorset hill.

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