After a glorious Easter, winter returned to the Highlands last week with blizzards and hailstorms interspersed by short bursts of sunshine. ‘Typical lambing weather,’ they told me up in the Strath of Kildonan, where the lambing season had just begun.
We woke to a white landscape, although it didn’t deter the fishermen, who were soon out in full force on the Helmsdale. But out at Altanduin, five miles from the road, it’s a different picture. The shepherdess, working there alone on the remote hirsel, has been lifting dead lambs frozen to the ground in their own amniotic fluid.
Back at home, the Black Isle has adopted the white-and-yellow livery of the Vatican flag. The snowline on Wyvis, which I can monitor from my desk, has dropped right back down again, leaving the ben and surrounding hills a dazzle of marble against the cacophony of golds: daffodils (still far from dead), whins (gorse) ablaze, fields of ripening rape and the SNP posters fluttering from every lamppost.
Down below, I can count no less than seven oil rigs anchored in the Cromarty Firth. Be warned, Nicola Sturgeon: the gold’s in the landscape right now, not the oil industry.