Monday, 25 April 2016

Allan Wright - Galloway Sojourns 1

I started doing landscape photography right here in Galloway a long time ago, the eighties in fact, and although I have had to plough furrows elsewhere in Scotland to make a living I have never stopped exploring new places here in my adopted homeland. As most landscape and nature lovers know there are no limits to the experience that can be had from rambling around in new places.

Starting with the present time and working backwards through time I thought it might be interesting to share my journey, in blog sized slices, that I have had with Galloway as my subject over these past years. I'd like to pick out the highlights and test my memory a bit with how the pictures might have come about. There are a lot of pictures so this may take some time.

Ok here we go; last shoot I did was a dusk and dawn assault on 3 locations in our beloved Galloway Forest Park. Feral Goats get my attention, I photographed them 20 odd years ago so felt the need to refresh my files. I understand they have been culled in other parts of the Park which sounds just too brutal to contemplate, so I hope this small but contented herd in the official Wild Goat Park at Talnotry is not all that remains.

1) Quizzical looks and those amber eyes with little black slits - Pan is alive and kicking in there somewhere with this fine young billy.

2) How pleasant it was shuffling around in the dry Heather and warm April sunshine waiting for this nanny and kid to come up with a cute pose - strenuous stuff.

3) Fine horns juxtaposed with The Murray Monument is just across a wee Glen at the Grey Mare's Tail. It beams with pride as it pays homage to the memory of Alexander Murray, a local shepherd boy who later became Professor of Oriental Languages at Edinburgh University, erected in 1835.

4) On such a perfect Spring day I calculated that a sunset across Clatteringshaws Loch might be a worth a go. I trundled up and down the West Shore in anticipation of a good angle but nothing really emerged so I headed back towards the Visitor Centre, just moments before the colour started to fail, I seized on this lyrical little part-submerged willow.

5) Camped out at the top of the Garroch Glen and struck out at 5 am for sunrise on summit of Meikle Millyea, one of the Rhinns of Kells. I got there twenty minutes late but no matter. I did this walk back in about 1986 with Logan Paterson, a man passionate about the Galloway Hills, who sadly left us a wee while back. I recall the exact spot where we stood overlooking Loch Dungeon and cursed the mass plantings of Sitka Spruce sharing nostalgic images of life on the land in days of yore. It looks pretty much the same I reckon.

6) Meikle Millyae is a lovely hill, an easy enough climb, its broad flat summit was a joy in the warm sunshine with not a breath of wind or cloud in the sky. I seemed to spend I fair bit of time just sitting on rocks staring here and there to the sounds of cuckoos, skylarks, ravens and buzzards. One of the pleasures of hill walking is to raise a thirst and quench it with the freshest and coolest of water from a mountain burn. View here looking South the Clatteringshaws Loch.

7) Looking across to Corserine Hill with dyke detail and nice little lochan. I never fail to be impressed with the extraordinarily hard grafting that our forefathers must have expended in building dry stone dykes all across the land. Their presence is always reassuring and their unique shapes and weather-beaten textures lie in complement and harmonise so well with the land, the wee birdies and insects love them too. Such a toil to build them though just to keep out the neighbour's sheep. If only we could hear an ancient echo of Galloway "craik" that those dykers that must have shared during the long days and nights building them, respect! Ah life was so much simpler then - or was it?

Allan Wright

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