On the north bank of Loch Mullardoch, about a mile to the west of the dam, there are the remains of an old settlement, At this point the Allt Mullardoch falls in a series of small steps over rocks and boulders before being channeled into a narrow cleft for its final rush into the Loch. A new wooden bridge has been built to replace the old timber structure, the remains of which can be seen lying beside the river. It seems an ideal spot for a settlement and the remains of old stone buildings show that at one time it might have supported several families. A large enclosure for stock, and the remains of what might be a mill, or whisky still, lie in close proximity.

I walked up here last week, drawing board with stretched paper strapped to my rucksack, and spent an afternoon painting the lichen-encrusted stones that form one of the old buildings – now only a couple of feet remaining to be seen above the heather and bracken. Although the last day of April it was still cold and I was glad of my thermals and waterproof over-trousers. Although made for sailing, these are ideal for sitting on damp rocks while painting outdoors.

Painting the lichen patterns and colours brought home to me how different, and better, it is to paint on location rather than relying on photographic records of places. Your eyes become highly tuned to the subtle variations of colours and textures, and the longer you sit the more you see.


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