Jura and the west coast from a seaplane


August 2021 - Reaching for the skies

July was wonderfully hot in south east Scotland. Our bees have been piling in the honey, sunsets have been frequent and everyone’s been wearing shorts!

My trips with bird counters to islands in the Firth of Forth have been gently paced due to the high temperatures. Treeless and uninhabited, some of these islands offer little shelter from the blazing sun; others have disused wartime buildings which were invaluable in providing shade. Sitting within these ruins made me think about who might have occupied them in by-gone years and I started to photograph their decay and link to a previous life and era. The more imagery I captured, the sense of history, humanity, existence and engineering grew. Before I knew it, I had found myself suddenly absorbed into a new project and now need to process, edit and consider how to use the pictures.

I was also offered an opportunity to land on Fidra: one island in the Forth estuary I had always wanted to visit so grabbed it immediately! The island’s lighthouse, standing resplendently white, was built in 1885 by David and Thomas Stevenson. Remains of a walled garden and chapel sit amongst a vast population of herring and black-backed gulls. Puffins gather along grassy edges while fulmars, shags and kittiwakes occupy the cliffs. The island is compact but there is much to explore, including a hidden cave that can only be accessed through an arch at low tide. I was delighted to have finally experienced what the island offers.

Sunsets were plentiful in July. I visited local sites as well as taking a trip to North Berwick to photograph the dipping sun. I always feel a sense of reflective calm and wonder while enjoying a sunset: ‘calm’ as the day is drawing to a close and ‘wonder’ at nature’s colours. I posted a couple of the images on Facebook.

I was given a present of a seaplane trip over the west of Scotland last year but only managed to take it last month following Covid restrictions and a couple of postponements due to weather and mechanical issues. What an amazing experience! The weather was sunny and clear at 6pm when the plane lifted off Loch Lomond. We flew past the summit of Ben Lomond, over the Arrochar Alps, down Loch Fyne and the Kintyre peninsula with views to the paps of Jura and the Isle of Gigha, past Arran and back over Bute to the mouth of the Clyde, and back into Loch Lomond. It was forty five minutes of wonderful views and a worthy way to take in the beauty of Scotland’s hills and coast. Only compact cameras and phones were allowed on board but my Canon Powershot G5X served me well. It was a memorable experience that I would thoroughly recommend.