A Spey Bay story by Laura Harper, previous WDC residential volunteer and Scottish Wildlife Trust ranger
It was a bright March morning, still quite early, when I was awoken by light streaming into my attic bedroom window. I leapt out of bed, opened the sky light and stuck my head out to get my first glimpse of the River Spey and Garmouth Viaduct with Ben Aigen and Ben Rinnes behind. I didn’t know that those were the landmarks I was looking at, in fact a few weeks earlier I had needed to look closely at a map as I had no idea where Spey Bay, or even the Moray Firth were. I had no idea that these were going to be landmarks that I fell in love with or that they would be the background to my life for years, but having arrived in the dark, I was so excited to see where I had ended up.
I came to Spey Bay as a residential volunteer in 2006. I was due to stay for 7 months but that turned into 7 years as I became the Spey Bay Ranger for the Scottish Wildlife Trust. It was a joy and a privilege to live and work in such a beautiful place, with such wonderful and dedicated people, for so long. Having the opportunity to discover so much about the flora, fauna, history and heart of a place sparked an enduring love of nature, of Moray and an enthusiasm for sharing it with others.
One of my favourite memories was of a day not long before Christmas. I was stressed. I was supposed to be heading south for the holiday but the snow was bad and I was worried about driving down the A9, so needed to leave earlier than planned. In the frantic busyness of cleaning and packing, I hadn’t noticed the beautifully bright, crisp day or heard the crunch of the snow beneath my feet. I hadn’t seen that the special quality of light, which you only get at Spey Bay, was making everything sparkle gold; but the cacophony of a huge skein of geese flying overhead made me stop and look and suddenly it was like my eyes opened to the world around me. In that instant, I forgot about the To Do list and just stood still, drinking in every detail. I love how nature can do that – take your breath away when you least expect it.