Monday, 28 April 2014

An Autumn Walk up Merrick - Morag Paterson

I’d been asked by a client to take a photo from the top of the Merrick and having waited for an ideal forecast for some time I decided to lump it and go up in marginal weather with the hope of some decent visibility between showers.

Knowing I was likely to get wet I’d packed as much gear as I could carry, stuffing my f-stop pack full and fixing the big tripod with panoramic levelling head on the back (weighing in at about 15kg going up a hill with this baggage gives you a decent workout) and headed on up from the car park overlooking Loch Trool.

The first part of the walk up Merrick is easy going, if a little rough in places, following a lovely burn before turning up into the trees. After coming through the darkness of the coniferous trees and out onto the ridge I realised my dreams of staying dry were not going to manifest. Stinging rain and wind came in from the coast and I had to stop in my tracks to don all my waterproof kit. It seemed worthwhile to push on though and at the top as I was indeed rewarded with a decent vista, with just the right level of drama from the sky. Knowing I had to work quickly I began a rapid assembly of my gear, only to find that one of my tripod legs had obviously fallen out on the way up.

This was exasperating; especially as this was the hill I’d done a double ascent of a couple of years previously, the first time for a photo and the second to retrieve my favourite jacket, which I’d managed to leave at the top. Not only did I not fancy doubling back to look for the leg – which could have been anywhere – I also knew I was unlikely to get the shot if I delayed further.

Bizarrely, just as I was wondering if I could get a decent panoramic while hand holding the camera, a couple arrived at the summit, the man carrying a walking stick that was the exact dimensions – I kid you not – of my missing tripod leg. Without any hesitation I asked if he would mind me borrowing it and after a moments consideration he acquiesced.

The stick slotted into the hole perfectly and I got my shot, and I thanked fate for smiling on me.

Coincidentally, I had a box of pear cider in my van (a thank you for another photographer that I hadn’t managed to catch up with) and I was able to leave it as a thank you by their car when I got back to the car park.

Another lesson learned, always check your kit before setting out (and check it again before packing up from wherever you end up shooting).

Amazingly, I found the tripod leg on the way back down, just a few hundred yards from the car.

Leeming & Paterson Photography


  1. You make every event a most enjoyable story. Excellent.

  2. I constantly lose or misplace bits of gear. If anyone finds a monopod on the dense forests on the west side of Machu Picchu IT'S MINE! Likewise Bengairn still hides the replacement I bought to replace the one above. I will stick to tripods now as a two legged tripod still has the option of a replacement. ah!

  3. Often enough we get into scrapes even with all the practice we have had - can I dare to suggest its how one deals with these that marks us out as professional - good example - thanks for sharing Mog.

  4. I must have lost ten spirit levels easy - and once lost my wallet up a hill while working - wnt back the next day and so luckily found it next to a very fresh and still warm cow pat - nice!
    Cool story Mogs