30/10/15I have always thought that Scotland is a completely different world, the people, the philosophy and of course the landscape. I recently spent 5 days here, and in between celebrating my 50th birthday I photographed some wonderful places and managed to tick a few off my bucket list in the process. I headed up from Lancashire to Aberlady Bay in East Lothian, walking the wooden bridge across the sands, watching roe deer on the shoreline and feeling disappointed that the tide had covered the two WW2 mini submarines which lay, slowly decaying at the low tide mark, submerged as they were originally designed to do seventy five years ago. So back west along the coast road which hugs the south bank of the mighty Forth river estuary to Longniddry & Seton sands, where the boat wreck on the beach was again submerged and wouldn't be seen again until well after dark. I did however get to enjoy this not-quite-on-the-tourist-map coastline and took in bleaching rocks at Gullane, Cockenzie ( where the two famous chimneys of the imposing power station have now been demolished and only the skeleton of the main plant remains ) and the old mining town of Prestonpans where you can find abandoned railway carriages, steam engines and the old pump house still intact, in fact the place is littered with mining remnants of a bygone age. The delights of Edinburgh and it's ghostly connections could take on pages and pages here so a quick mention of a few hours one cold afternoon soaking up the dead in Greyfriars Kirkyard was definitely on the cards and I never tire of this place, not for the feint-hearted after dark I can assure you!.
The next day I drove west again to a familiar haunt of mine in South Queensferry, probably the finest place to photograph the Forth bridges looking north, in fact they are in the process of building a third, to be completed by the end of 2016. After a full Scottish breakfast in The Jitter Bean Café ( highly-recommended ) I boarded a boat and hopped off onto Inchcolm Island. I have always wanted to explore the 12th-15th Century abbey ruins and the WW2 barracks and tunnels which sit in silence in the hillsides, long-since abandoned in the 1950's, an eerie place, the Medieval abbey sitting majestically on the beach which devides the two parts of the Island, seemingly unaware of the intrusion of 20th Century warfare. Dark passageways, gloomy rooms and terrifying spiral steps greet you at this once-Holy place and it is easy to imagine ghosts here of the monks that once escaped the chaos of the mainand and settled here 800 years ago. I also caught a glimpse of Inchgarvie and Inchkieth on the way back to the harbour but my mind was on getting back to the car and north over the road bridge to Dalgety Bay and Aberdour, two places I know well from my distant past. I was too late to visit Aberdour Castle which looked fascinating in the fading afternoon light so I head around the coast road and found ( thanks to copious amounts of pre-trip homework! ) the desolate broken pier, jutting out into the Forth like a fallen crane. Standing there alone on the bank, a distant barking of a dog and recording the scene in 2-minute long exposures I am in the zone here. Despite my satisfaction of the results in camera I was well aware that the light wasn't on my side and If I was to find the woodland path to St Bridget's Kirk at Dalgety Bay I would have to move fast, I could have stayed at the pier for hours, watching the sun dip on my right towards the bridges but I had a date with a 17th Century graveyard and abandoned church on the beach thankyou...
Suffice to say I found the church, luckily as I discovered St Bridget's Brae, and opposite a path down to the beach, through the woods and there it was. St Bridget's is not an easy place to photograph, it is actually set up from the beach but, standing in the churchyard field and you would think that the sea is creeping up to the gravestones. This is a magnificent place and sadly one where I had about fifteen minutes to photograph. The carved skeletons and skulls adorn every corner and there is even a remaining stone staircase up to a room above. This is one place I am sure would take on a different feel after dark and I am sure I will return.
I was lucky enough to be able to stay overnight in Glasgow ,,a city I had never visited before and instantly related to it's immensely friendly people, beautiful architecture and excellent pubs!. Trying to capture everything in your mind and your camera is impossible in 24 hours so I just managed to walk a mile or so down the Clyde River and onto the Clyde Arc bridge in driving rain to photograph the Armadillo and the black crane, well worth it.... I felt deflated driving back to England later that day... but I know I will be back soon...