Having had my curiosity piqued by the previous night at Dunottar, I returned in the morning. Partly to check out the location in the light (yes, wrong way round I know!) to see if it might be a good place to try again that night. Partly to see if I could see anything that might explain the lads “sightings”.
There were already a surprising number of vehicles in the car park when I arrived in the morning, so I opted to cut right on the coastal path to a small headland overlooking the castle. Of course, that just encouraged everyone else to “follow the tripod” then pass it and get in my view as I descended the slight gap to a steep valley head… Sods law!
It turned out to be very hard to get a shot from this angle – a shame as the steep valley sides added an extra sense of drama to the location. But those same valley sides meant that part of the image was in deep shadow and part in bright sunshine. And even with 7 stops worth of ND grad filters, that was hard to even out enough to show the details without burning out the highlights, without looking unrealistic. The above image was the best I managed.
Carrying on, I took a few shots from the headland:
And then, seeing there were fewer folks around I went to investigate the “dry moat” and steps up to the castle door. Not surprisingly there was no sign of any ghostly activity!
However, walking past the rock face on which the castle is built on, on the way to the steps up to its entrance, I noticed the metal grilled entrance that the lads had mentioned a few times as being a place where they felt a strange and unpleasant feeling. It was apparently also the place they saw the ghostly white guardsman apparition.
As I walked past it I couldn’t help but recall that it was pitch dark as we passed it in the night, and no sign of a hole through the rock to the far coast was visible in those conditions. Yet in the daylight that gap was very clear at certain angles, yet again totally invisible from others.
Walked past a second time it occurred to me that it would be easy to walk past it, see nothing but pitch darkness in one direction (especially if only glancing at the grille for part of the time – or if the moon had briefly gone behind a cloud), but in the return direction then see an apparent bright white head shape seem to appear from nowhere. In reality of course, it would just be an effect of the narrow viewing angle allowing moonlight illumination to appear from a very few places on the path. Added to that, the shape the rock sides of the hole made could give the impression of a white head.
I didn’t have great means of recording this at the time (it really needs a stabilisation rig, or even better a track for the tripod to glide over) – so my humble smartphone stepped up to the job as the lightest (and least bouncy handheld!) option:
Perhaps this is the rational explanation – or perhaps there is still something else entirely that isn’t so easily explained away by rational means!
But looking at the forecast, I wasn’t so sure of seeing the Northern Lights there that night. After all the previous night had been as about as clear as you can get, and the solar wind forecast was for storm conditions (ie about as good a forecast of Auroral activity as you can get). And still there was nothing. Perhaps I’d have a better chance moving further north, as my original plan had been?