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4 Mar 2021

Relaxing Trust landscapes

An oil painting of a rowing boat moored at the side of a loch. It is sunset. There are mountains on the far side of the loch. Reeds and long grass grow along the banks.
Outlet of Loch Achray, Waller Hugh Paton
Take some time out of your busy day to relax and unwind with us.

Put your headphones on/earbuds in and get comfy, as you listen to a relaxing description of three stunning landscape paintings in our care:

  • Hampstead Heath, Follower of John Constable (National Trust for Scotland collection at Hill of Tarvit Mansion & Garden)
  • Outlet of Loch Achray, Waller Hugh Paton (National Trust for Scotland collection at Fyvie Castle)
  • The Coast at Boddam, unknown artist (National Trust for Scotland collection at Haddo House)

This is our first ASMR video – we hope you enjoy it.

Relaxing Trust landscapes


Hampstead Heath, Follower of John Constable
National Trust for Scotland collection at Hill of Tarvit Mansion & Garden, Fife

A small rowing boat paused beside us the still glassy water holding its breath while we wait on the grassy bank. It is sunset. The sky is awash with autumnal light. Way off in the horizon, the sun still blazes a fresh vivid yellow, so while the heat of the day has subsided it still tracks over the unseen land beyond, warming the faces of those who turn to catch the rays of light that bathe them in a comforting and warming glow.

Rising heat diminishes as the sun moves east, the sky is shifting silently, moving through a rainbow of colours, a palette that softly shuffles through tones of pale lemon, blonde apricot, soft rose and lavender cotton. Traces of striated cloud arc from the left up into the centre of the sky, trails of a long-forgotten formation, these wisps of moisture floating in the air are held like traces of the day sinking slowly from sight.

Their buttery blush reflects below on the mountains and the water. Lying like lace on the slumbering hills is a mellow golden light. It melts over the tree tops merging the forest into a singular form that solidifies the shape of the mountain side, so it might be soft to the touch yet it is static in shape. A blonde sheen rests on a bed of indigo and violet that deepens as the sun glides further towards the horizon. This changing light is moving the mountain further and further from our gaze, as soft purples and quiet blues emerge, their tones shifting in the sun’s changing ray.

The hills seem to glide inexorably further into the distance. The elasticity of the scene is fostered by the clear soft grasses where we stand, that gently sway and whisper in the breeze. We can see each fibre, filament, cord and thread of the long stems and fluffy seeds in the grasses on the bank. They reach towards the small boat, arcing over the glossy oar and the boards at the port and stern. It’s a welcoming gesture that layers the foreground – with delicacy and strength.

As an oar anchors the small craft against the river bank the water ripples gently from its hull, imperceptibly stirring the surface. Beneath, the currents move restlessly, fluctuating with the rocks and the weeds, the mire and the mud on the bed below. Ribbons of this hidden activity are highlighted in pale gold, created by the evening light that pools around the boat. Trees on the far bank throw their shadows into this river, febrile and shaking in the cool waters their branches etched precisely against the reflected evening sky.

The bank here in the mid ground is downy with heather and grass, thick with mushy peat and damp marshy ground, its edges are meticulously and methodically carved by the meandering river. A hint of this power can be felt at the tip of this bank, which meets a confluence eddying in circles as it collides with contrasting currents. This is the ‘cut’ in the loch beyond, that has created an outlet, which provides release for the water that is held and embraced by the landscape encircling its borders.

The loch is glassy and calm, belying the deep, deep canyon beneath that stretches down into the earth – water so dark and unexplored it is sublime. This obscured energy escapes briefly where the water caps white moving swiftly into the outlet for release and new adventure.

So we leave this idyllic scene seemingly unruffled by wind or rain, still and restful, with the occasional flopping trout slapping on the surface and a squadron of flies buzzing fruitlessly by the water’s edge. The gold tint of sun touching the land and conjuring the sweet smell of grass, peat and pine and the night sky that will soon fill with stars, a new velvety night sky being unveiled.

Outlet of Loch Achray, Waller Hugh Paton
National Trust for Scotland collection at Fyvie Castle, Aberdeenshire

A warm wind lifts the storm clouds in the distance, they swoop down and gently roll towards us. There will be rain, driving rain that fills the gulley’s and streams reaching into the rivers and seas beyond. But, for now it is still. Limitless air expands towards the horizon.

The land folds gently over the undulating hills that are softly punctuated by trees, their green leaves shifting and bustling in the whispering breeze. Here in the foreground a solitary man gently walking a horse sways past a neat deciduous tree, not much taller than him. The shadow beneath softly stamping its presence into the grass, throwing the scene into tonal perspective.

The swish of the horse’s tail follows its gait, swaying in a stately movement down a sandy track towards a clay roofed house hidden amongst a grove of trees at the bottom of the hill. The horse and rider move beyond a flock of sheep, smudges on the field, their faces bowed to the grass as they chew contentedly, their hooves squishing in the muddied ruts that run like ribbons through the wet grass.

Three figures look on to this scene with us, one wearing an orange hat that sweeps over and hugs the crown of his head. He’s gesticulating while talking – where is the rider going? Perhaps he is asking? Or, did you hear where that man is going? Can you believe it? The third man sits watching the retreating rider, a dog nearby him arches his back, as the clip clop of the horse’s hooves recede slowly as the moments tick on.

This group of men have stopped near a fallen branch that stretches out across the sandy track, fallen from a previous storm in this windswept land. In their midst, the weather swills and sways moving stealthily over the distant cooling hills, the breeze gathering energy and making the leaves rustle and whip against their branches.

Large drops of rain soon begin to fall, and, as the clouds come sailing forward the grey and blue of the watery air spreads over all the sky and drenches the land in its wake.

The Coast at Boddam Unknown Artist
National Trust for Scotland collection at Haddo House, Aberdeenshire

We enter the cove in the afternoon. The sun soaked rocks warm to touch the air is humid with a light breeze on our faces. This calms the mood and slows the heartbeat. A woman sits at the heart of the scene gazing out to the boats lazily bobbing in the breeze, shimmering in the sunlight so they merge with the water, at once coming and receding from view, merging in and out of the horizon; ghostly and translucent. The woman’s hat shades her face from the bright light and she rests on a step, leaning back to take in her setting.

The water resting in the bay is a dark jade in the shade of a cliff that rises and marches along the headland. The striated rock face is soft with eroding sandstone, crumbling and powdery in the crevices and clefts that have risen from abrasion over time. The water below sits at high tide with just a splash against the rock staining a meandering line along the base of the bluff. Almost like a polished rock, the blackened green static water is just disturbed with a hint of movement in the white crest of water that gently bats the cliff and rippling in from a current that runs into the inlet and past two large rocks in the middle of the bay. The brilliance of sunlight shines on the water, casting a radiance white on the surface that makes you squint in defence, so intense is the glare. It’s like a slick of ice creeping stealthily solidifying liquid. The hues of white are layering over an olive green and muted cerulean blue. The seawater looks viscous and thick.

The ruffling clouds are reflected here, stretched out and extended to their limit and revealing in their sprawl the palest blue sky, diffuse with the bright light of a summer’s day. The splitting cloud makes no sound, it is silent; a casual separation that gently unfolds with the moments, as the day lengthens and advances. The gentle cry of an occasional gull is marked out against this hushed tableau. One bird swoops down to the mouth of the cove, another rises with the wind up towards the downy green of the cliff top. Here grass slips like cooling magma over the edges of these cliffs, solidifying and smoothing the surfaces, eddying with the terrain. This is a place to lie and feel the strong sun warming your skin, the grass filled with dry moss that is like a pillow under your weary bones. Sit up and look out to a limitless sea, then lie down again and shade your eyes from the sun to watch the clouds as they shapeshift through the sky.

Gently, quietly, shafts of light fall like gossamer through the clouds opening vents, the dust and the mist rising in a quiet vortex as though pulled up by an angelic force.

This is respite.

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