Castles in the sky

I'd been watching the forecast closely all week hoping for a chance of some clear skies overnight as the peak of the most prominent meteor shower in the Northern hemisphere, the Perseids, had arrived.

The Perseid meteor shower happens each year from mid July until the end of August and is a beautiful display of shooting stars from cloud debris left over by comet Swift-Tuttle as it travels by on it's 133 year orbit.

Friday dawned and as I checked the forecast again before heading to work, the thunder and lightening which seemed to have been forecasted for most of the week and not amounted to anything on Arran had gone off radar and in it's place an overnight forecast of mild temperatures, little wind and clear skies.

I was working on Saturday but spent most of Friday day dreaming about what it would be like up high overnight and also how gutted I would be if I didn't make the effort in these promising conditions.

My mind was made up and after a quick gather of kit and some dinner when I finished, I jumped in the car and drove to North Glen Sannox.

Similar to the spontaneous night I had a few years ago on Beinn Tarsuinn, I had a hankering for a particular view point and this time it was looking down from below Caisteal Abhail onto hunters ridge and South across to the deep grooved North face of Cir Mhor and the sweeping ridge lines and shapely summits of the surrounding hills.

I'd imagined what this view would look like under the night sky each time I had passed it walking or running during the day and couldn't fully get this out my head.

I set off with the dog and headed up the quiet path in the heat, the burn was very tempting for a dip but I refrained and just refilled my water bottle before crossing and heading up onto the hill path towards Sail an Im.

The dog certainly took advantage of a dip!

The slow wander up Sail an Im was beautiful, clear blue skies and a very gentle breeze to just about keep the midges away.

Fresh blaeberries dotted the hillside and were a nice treat as we gained height.

As we reached the prominent blocks of granite as the ridge starts to taper out, a large herd of red deer were lit up by the setting sun as they grazed at the top of the Leac an Tobair.

More were dotted along hunters ridge which made a fine scene with the back drop of Cir Mhor and A'Chir ridge.

I'd marked a bivy spot when out running on the hills a couple of weeks ago and after locating the spot, decided to move slightly nearer the edge of the Coire to get a bit more of a breeze as the midges were pretty hungry.

After setting up, we took a wander down to the natural spring on the ridge to re-fill the water bottle and then returned to our spot to boil up some water for some noodles.

The last of the sun lit up the hills a beautiful pastel pink, a fine view for dinner.

Before the light faded I found an ideal spot just away from our bivi to set up the tripod and camera for the viewpoint I'd been dreaming about.

A quick Auto focus to the furthest away point and then a switch to Manual and we were all set.

It was time to dawn the duvet jacket, sit back, replace vital calories and watch the rest of the daylight fade away and the night sky unfold.

Saturn and Jupiter were the first to appear from the South, directly behind Cir Mhor.

This was followed by the big dipper above the Castles to the North West and as the sky darkened, more and more stars lit up the sky until the full extent of the Milky way appeared to the South in all its glory.