I moved to the Black Isle because of its proximity to the likes of Assynt and Wester Ross, with the convenience of Inverness being only 15 miles down the road. The transition from Edinburgh to the Black Isle was really hard – saying goodbye to places that were the backdrop to my life for a decade and moving somewhere new; going from living and working in the city to living and working in the countryside.
I’ve grown to love my new home: the peace and quiet; privacy; sitting in the garden watching the birds; uninterrupted sleeps; big skies; views over the Cromarty Firth; watching the seasons change (there are several mature trees in the garden, and the house looks onto barley and potato fields); and taking off on my bike down quiet country roads minutes after shutting down my laptop. It’s a dream come true. I’m still getting to grips with the fact that I actually live here.
Pursuing outdoor photography while I was living in Edinburgh was frustrating. I recall making regular trips to East Lothian but I was usually stressed by the time I got there (driving in Edinburgh is no fun) and the locations I went to were often busy. It was difficult to get my creative juices flowing. The final straw came in the summer of 2012 when I got stuck in a traffic jam on Queen Street at 11pm on my return home from Yellowcraig. My camera never saw the light of day in the Lothians again.
Nowadays, I can reach Ullapool or Torridon if I travel for an hour (and the journey is enjoyable). I have a couple of photography projects in mind which will enable me to travel around the mainland and islands building up themed portfolios of images. However I actually feel less inclined to go and explore now that the Highlands are on my doorstep. I think the ‘push’ of the city, the need to get away, was actually stronger than the ‘pull’ of the Highlands.
The Black Isle is scenic but not spectacular. It’s not the west coast (the ultimate dream!). But it’s my home now and I have no intention of leaving. I want to get to know the Black Isle intimately and I need to get off the beaten track in order to do so. I felt a bit uncomfortable attacking my pristine 1:25,000 Ordnance Survey map with a highlighter pen, but it was worth it! I’ve marked up lots of paths and minor roads to go and explore. It’s all within 15 miles of my house, so I can recce locations then return with my camera another time, in the right conditions. There’s the added advantage of not confining photography to weekends – I can be out and about before and after work too – and all the experiences I have close to home will help me to capture the ‘big’ landscape images when I do venture west. So, I’m embracing life on the Black Isle and hoping to build up a new collection of images in the process. Watch this space!