South West Scotland 2021: Part Three
4 September 2021
I took my time getting ready this morning. Now this wasn’t due so much to laziness, as it was to tiredness… since River had decided that she wanted to sleep with me during the night. She then kept waking me up as she wriggled, tossed and turned, decided my face needed kisses and ended up giving me 2 inches of the bed… If you have animals, I guess you fully understand this story! Actually the face kisses were probably for a good reason – I awoke to mozzie/gnat bites all over my face and neck from last night. When I tried to help myself, I realised I had no anti histamine in the van either, so had to settle for anti itch cream. Not the best start.
Today’s plan was to find Blairskaith waterfall, so as soon as I was sorted, I drove on over, and found a nice spot to park up. I took the short walk back down the hill a little, and wandered into the woods full of anticipation. Then, when I stood on the path looking down at the falls, my jaw hit the floor. I was shocked to see that there was barely anything here and the falls were little more than a dribble!! I stared for quite a while before it actually sank in. I was in Scotland, and a waterfall was… DRY?!! I pulled myself together, trying really hard to dismiss my extreme disappointment. ‘Well, I was here’ I thought, so I took a couple of shots with very long exposure to try and enhance the water flow, but it was a totally unsuccessful endeavour, and the few photos I took ended up just being record shots for a future visit.
I did a quick explore of the cave behind, but it was equally uninspiring without light or water, so I returned very sadly to Fred and wondered what else I could do. I needed 3 locations to scratch East Dumbartonshire off my map, but without this one – I would barely scrape two!
I went back to a spot I had seen from the road and considered photographing that instead. As I had driven the Campsie Road between Torrence and Kinkell, I had spotted a field with hay bales, and a rather nicely positioned tree. At the time it was bathed in a brief wash of sunshine and it looked quite striking. Now however, an hour or so later, the sun had mostly gone and the cloud flattened the scene. I texted the shot idea to a friend, and we discussed the pros and cons of it. I’d not taken a ‘harvest’ scene before, but that was probably because I’m not especially good at reactive photography, and this type of shot would generally be spotted as you drive past. This one had some promise though. So I took a number of shots from a variety of positions, and sent the sad text of ‘all this needs is light’ to my friend, so we could commiserate together. As if listening in, the sun suddenly started a 10 minute spell of brief and intermittent light spells, as clouds parted briefly to my left. I wasted no time jumping back to the nicer compositions I’d found, and just as I reached my favourite spot the last beam of light raced up the hill! I snapped several shots, hoping to blend them together to produce a happy sunny image. As it goes, I didn’t need to do any blending work, because this one was lovely all on its own! The sun never returned, but as a first attempt at an image of this nature, it wasn’t a disappointing effort, and marked location 2 of East Dumbartonshire off my map. Well technically location 3 I suppose, as I had actually visited Blairskaith Linn, and I had actually photographed it. What were my rules regarding this scratch off map anyway…?!! Visit 3 locations in a county? Take photos of three locations? Take 3 ‘quality’ photos at 3 locations…??? Hmmnn… I wonder if I need to be a little clearer on my rules.. I don’t want to cheat now, do I??!!??
As I debated this oh so serious issue, I had some lunch, played on my phone while doing my water filtering, then went to my third (fourth) location for East Dumbartonshire. Whether I had any formal decisions or not, I clearly felt I needed another one for this county, just as a back up… So the Craigmaddie reservoir was my next port of call. Hang on… just who is monitoring me on this anyway..?!! LOL
Now here was a really nice location. Plenty of parking nearby, and a wonderfully easy and flat walk. I almost forgot to look for spots to photograph as River and I enjoyed our pleasant stroll here, despite the now grim sky, and strengthening breeze. It was getting on for late in the afternoon so we simply followed the path around the edge. I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for here, but the possibility of reflections from the large trees on one side was missing due to the wind that was completely spoiling the surface of the water. I didn’t feel stressed by this however, and I simply followed the path further round as I explored the area. This led to, and guided me over, a path that split the reservoirs into two (creating Craigmaddie and Mugdock reservoirs), and carried on round to a section where the area was out of the worst of the breeze.
I found a lovely spot here, where the water inflow to the reservoir allowed for a nice long exposure. I struggled a little though, with the wind blowing the bushes across the front of my lens, masking much of the water trails and making my view restricted and messy. A faster shutter rid me of the bushes, but killed the drama and movement. Frustrated with the shots, I finished and wandered over to a central point in the walkway here, and met two girls from Brighton who had left at 1am to get here today. I was quite amazed at how much energy they had, given the length of their drive! Holly and Gemma chatted to me for a bit, telling me they had a week to try and get in a super tour of Scotland. With points across the Highlands and Skye all together, they seemed to have quite a packed schedule! (all in a week?!) ‘They’ll need a holiday after that lot!’ I thought, as they continued on their way. I hope they managed all the bits they’d planned on seeing – and even if they did – I bet they will be back!! I continued across the walkway to the opposite side, where the view seemed a little clearer. I confess, it wasn’t quite as easy to get this shot either, especially with my tripod balanced precariously across the barrier, but I managed to capture the water flowing far better from this side.
After this I went back to the central point where I turned my attention to the very symmetrical water inflow tunnel. This has an inscription showing it was built in 1885/6, and this is the point where all this water finally ends its journey of 25 miles, coming through an aqueduct that starts at Loch Katrine. Rather oddly, the water in this small section was very still, allowing for a glass like reflection. Although not a regular subject matter of mine, I found it very pleasing to my eye, and loved taking the photos of it (see header)
It was getting chilly, and much dimmer by the time I finished, so I wandered back to Fred, with River happily plodding next to me. She seemed happier being out, and I think all her aches and pains had finally become manageable for her. I re positioned the van to a nice spot for the evening and settled in for the night. I was pleased to realise that tomorrow, I could start West Dumbartonshire – the three locations for East Dumbartonshire had definitely been covered this time!
Blairskaith Linn take two. 10th December 2021.
OK, so in December, my daughter had her graduation ceremony in Glasgow – Well, I couldn’t go all that way and NOT re-try a couple of the disappointing locations, could I?! (So expect to see a few additions on these posts as the revisited spots come up) First was Blairskaith. Such was my disappointment in my visit here, that I HAD to come back and have a second try – and what a difference some rainfall makes! The falls here were MUCH nicer! I had parked up in the parking spot overnight, since I hoped to cram several spots into today, and this was going to be the first. I awoke to frozen windows, and a cold van, but as soon as I got myself moving I warmed up enough to enjoy the quick walk down to the falls. Today, the sun was beaming, which for the beginning of the session here, created some nasty shadows across the falling water, however, as the time here went on, the sun dipped intermittently behind cloud, and I was able to capture this shot which shows just how pretty it can get here. I have no idea what it might look like in full spate after a prolonged period of rainfall… but for me today, this was a huge improvement, so I will take that one!