I wander into some of the small groups of trees, gnarled and contorted silver birch in the main, with moss and grass pitted by the feet of the sheep. I scramble over the numerous burns criss-crossing the grassy areas, some frozen by the recent harsh weather. The sun does not rise high enough to warm some of the grassy areas but the first coppice I explore is lit by sunlight.
The irregular-shaped trees cut across my path as I try to find a way through. I have to avoid the spindly branches that spread horizontally toward other trees. These trees have a hard life, surviving the hostile weather conditions in the micro-climate around the loch. I am struck by how the low angle of the sun lights up the silver bark from which the trees get their name.
As I skirt the shore of the loch my steps take me into shadow – these trees have not been warmed by the sun and the coppice floor is covered with a thick hoar frost. The sky behind is pale and watery – a typical winter scene.
As I retrace my steps I choose to walk along the loch-side as the sun is still falling on some of the golden reeds. Many of them are still locked in place by the ice – creaking as it moves and is shifted by the current of the water. Occasionally there is a loud crack as pieces of ice crash together. Before I finish my practice for the day, I take a look at the ice formations further round the loch and there are some interesting shapes among the reeds.
As I near the end of the second week, mainly among trees, I am struck by how many different woods and forests we have on Skye – with varied structures, communities, and situations in a small geographical area.