The year started early with a week-long trip at the end of March/early April to East Sussex and Kent. I had been prompted to visit East Sussex as this was the year that the South Downs was due to gain its National Park status, making 15 in total. Most of my time in Sussex was spent at the eastern end of the National Park around the Seven Sisters, for me the most scenic and photographic area in the the park although I have to say that I have not visited the western or more inland areas of the Downs. I was fortunate with the weather, as you can see below, during my “up and down” walk along the Seven Sisters which just shows that the South Downs are not all downs there are lots of ups as well. Only just made it up the last one at Haven Brow which just happened to be the greatest height gain. Trust me to walk from East to West rather than the other way round. The reward for reaching the top of Haven Brow is a magnificent view across Cuckmere Haven. I did not manage to capture any images that I was satisfied with at Cuckmere but for those visiting the area the opportunities available are obvious.
Another location on my list was Beachy Head just further East from the Sisters which I returned to another day when unfortunately the weather was not as kind and very windy. Just what you need at this location. Most images you see of Beachy Head tend to be taken from the cliff tops so I was determined not to follow suit by attempting to capture an image from Falling Sands directly below the headland and adjacent to the lighthouse. Access to the sands is gained via Cow Gap where there are wooden steps down to the beach. If you intend following in my footsteps it is quite safe as long as you check the tide times and make sure that you are walking in the period from 2 hours before and 2-3 hours after low tide otherwise you could get trapped by the incoming tide. One of the images I managed to capture and up until now unreleased is shown below.
Moving on to Kent and Romney Marsh, a unique landscape with my main objectives being to capture Fairfield Church, the most remote on the Marsh and Dungeness. My walk of about 5 miles to the church and back started at Brookland a small village on the Marsh. The weather was very changeable, one-minute sunshine and next heavy downpours. On my outward route, I managed to avoid the rain which was very helpful considering most of the route was across ploughed fields and marshland. I just managed to capture some images including the one below before the heavens opened on my return walk. It was worth it just to have captured the image I wanted. Interestingly an image from virtually the same point of view by Marshall Pinsent was Runner-up, Classic view in 2010 Take a View Landscape of Photographer of the Year competition. No, I had not seen his image before my visit.
Onward to Dungeness and as you can see below what an amazing landscape. Not sure I have seen anything like it before. So many opportunities for photographers I could carry on talking about it forever as well as shooting forever.
It’s May now and onto the Isle of Arran, Kintyre and the Isle of #Islay. I sailed to Broderick on Arran from Ardrossan on the Ayrshire coast and spent 3/4 days familiarising myself with the island and based at Kildonan on the south coast overlooking Pladda and Ailsa Craig. They call Arran “Scotland in Miniature” and having visited I can certainly see why. I managed to get around the island twice and visited through walking most of the locations on my list. Of all the walks the most memorable was from Lochranza over to Laggan on the northeast coast and back via the Cock of Arran, a walk of some 8 miles, not just for the walk but for coming across what must be one of the most unusual places to launch a book and open a bookstore. This was at Laggan Cottage where I met Paul Story author of “Dreamwords” who can be seen outside the cottage below, part of the inspiration for the book. Paul’s story is very unusual and you can find out all the details from his website at http://www.dreamwords.com.
I then sailed onto Kintyre, known as the “mainland island”, staying on the west coast overlooking Gigha and beyond my final destination of Islay. Again I managed to visit all my planned locations and even managed to walk down to the Mull of Kintyre lighthouse on what must have been one of the wettest and windy days of the time on Kintyre. Easy walking down but a steep climb back up. I also managed a walk along Saddell Bay, the location where the local pipe band marched along the beach with Paul and Linda McCartney in the video for the number 1 song “Mull of Kintyre” all those years ago.
I finally arrived on Islay and stayed near Port Charlotte with amazing views out over Loch Indaal. There are too many glorious locations on Islay to mention in this post, in fact, the more I write these posts the more I find they are becoming longer, which I am not sure is good or bad. Perhaps you will let me know. Two locations that are at the front of my memory are around Loch Gruinart and in particular a walk out to Killinallan Point which can be seen below. A wild, peaceful location where you can walk for miles along the beach and not see anyone else. In fact, that is part of the attraction of the west coast of Scotland that there are so many areas with so few tourists particularly if you travel outside the main season. Maybe I shouldn’t have said that. The wilderness of the Isle of #Jura, just a short ferry ride from Islay had been on my list but unfortunately, I ran out of time. I am sure there will be another opportunity.
September brought my final photo trip of the year this time to the Isle of #Mull via the Ardnamurchan Peninsula. The trip started with a one night stay in Glencoe where I had very heavy rain early evening and throughout the night but the following morning brought a big improvement in the weather before my crossing via the Corran ferry to Ardgour. A short break at #Ardgour allowed me to walk around the area and along the beach at the Corran Narrows shown below.
My next stay for two days was at Resipole which allowed me to explore Moidart to the North including two walks, one from Kentra to Singing Sands and back and the other around Castle Tioram as well as drive into Morvern to Lochnaline. I then moved on to the most westerly part of the British Isles and stayed at Kilchoan on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula. I could not have had a better day for visiting Ardnamurchan Point with blue skies and fluffy clouds. Despite the weather changing I still managed a walk at Sanna Bay amongst others.
With the change in the weather and the winds increasing I was not looking forward to my ferry trip to Mull but as it turned out I was quite fortunate when I did sail. Once based in Craignure on Mull for the remainder of the trip the winds returned only stronger resulting in force 9 gales one night and the cancellation of the ferries from Oban. As I was on the coast the camper was buffeted quite badly to the extent where on two occasions in the night I had to go outside to resecure the cab insulated screens. Subsequently, the winds dropped and the rest of my time on Mull was very enjoyable and productive, even managing a good day trip over to Iona. Mull is so picturesque with stunning scenery and rich wildlife. A photographer’s perfect location.
Not content with the tourist point of view one of my walks included a rather torturous descent to the base of Eas Fors to capture the image below as well a wonderful walk along a raised beach overlooking the Treshnish Isles and to St Columba’s Bay on #Iona. Unfortunately, I did not manage to fit in the 8-mile walk to Carsaig Arches and the natural arches at Malcolm’s Point. I had heard of tales of the difficulties of this walk with exposed sections near the sea so decided not to attempt it on my own. Maybe next time.
The trip concluded with a ferry crossing to Oban and back to reality with a drive back round Glasgow and down the M74 and M6.
My journey will continue in 2011 and planning for the next photo trips is underway. Any location ideas would be most welcome.