Headshot of Scottish blogger and photographer Karen Thorburn, smiling and wearing a green cardigan and white flowery t-shirt
Hello! I’m Karen. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Hello! You’ve landed on my Scotland outdoors and photography blog! If you’re looking for my main website, to find out about my photography services, then please click the button below and I’ll see you over there!


I’m Karen! I’m a professional photographer (and frustrated writer!), based on the Black Isle in the Highlands of Scotland, where I live with my husband Mark and our two guinea pigs! I pay my half of the mortgage through wedding photography, family photoshoots, landscape photography workshops and commercial photography. But… I also love to write!

Family photo of blogger Karen Thorburn with her husband and two guinea pigs sitting on a lilac couch in pale pink lounge
With my husband Mark and our fur babies Angus and Woody!

Emerging blog themes

I started blogging in 2012 (or therabouts) and I’m pretty sure my mum was my only reader until I joined WordPress! After that, my audience started to grow as I wrote about my adventures in Scotland’s outdoors with a camera in hand. That was all fine and good, but I came to realise that my writing was a bit one-dimensional. Things took off when I started to work different themes in to my writing, such as mental health and well-being.

My big break came along when BBC Countryfile got in touch after having read my Fife Coastal Path blog here on WordPress. In 2014, I walked the 117-mile Fife Coastal Path and raised over £500 for Cancer Research UK. After reading my blog, BBC Countryfile featured me on their primetime TV show, which involved an incredible day of filming which culminated in a mind-blowing trip to the top of the iconic Forth Bridge.

Photograph of blogger Karen Thorburn on a sand and seaweed beach in wet weather, being filmed by a filmcrew of three people
Filming in Fife with BBC Countryfile (in the pouring rain!)

My whole world was turned upside down in 2017 when, in the same month, my dad was diagnosed with a brain tumour and I was made redundant from my previous career as a project manager. I became self-employed and, as my photography business started to grow, my dad slowly faded away. He died in the summer of 2018, decades before his time.

Walkhighlands guest column (and an exciting tweet!)

Keeping my blog up-to-date during that tumultuous time was pretty much at the bottom of my list of priorities. However, I managed to keep writing. I was approached by Walkhighlands (THE website for walking and hiking in Scotland) and became one of their paid columnists, writing alongside the likes of Cameron McNeish. It was awesome! Getting paid to write a thousand or so words every month was a nice wee sideline. My readership expanded massively and I got a major confidence boost when Iain Rankin (one of Scotland’s most successful writers) tweeted my first Walkhighlands article.

Screenshot of a tweet by author Iain Rankin promoting an article on the Black Isle written by Scottish blogger Karen Thorburn

Sadly all good things come to an end and Walkhighlands terminated all their writing contracts in 2019 due to a change in financial circumstances. In all honesty though, it was a bit of a relief. I was so busy with my photography business that I simply didn’t have the time to go out and capture great landscape images (to accompany my articles) anymore.

Photographer and blogger Karen Thorburn standing between a bride and groom on a boat on a loch with mountains in the distance
With a lovely couple, Jan and Quinn, aboard the Misty Isle on the Isle of Skye

That said, I haven’t stopped writing… although I have gone through a shamefully long hiatus on this WordPress blog. I didn’t post anything for two years (major facepalm…). It creates the worst possible impression for anyone landing on this site! It looks like I’ve either disappeared off the face of the earth or gone out of business. Well, thankfully I haven’t!

Writing my book

What have I been doing with my time? Mostly I’ve been up to my eyes, establishing myself as a wedding and family photographer. However, after a lot of hard graft, I feel that I’ve finally reached a plateau. Also, a few years on from my dad’s death, I finally have a bit more headspace again. The future looks brighter than it did for quite some time.

Blogger and photographer Karen Thorburn holding a camera and standing in front of a white car and grey caravan in a woodland
Solo caravanning in Delnies Wood, Nairn, in 2019

The best thing about writing for Walkhighlands for a year was that I really discovered who I am as a writer. My guest column forced me to write during the darkest time of my life. I’ve always felt that I’ve had a book inside of me but, until my dad became ill, I didn’t know what it was. Well, I do now. I’m writing about my beautiful relationship with my dad and the Scottish landscapes which have formed the backdrop to my life.

A new direction for my blog

So, where do I go with this blog? Like I say, a dormant blog just looks awful and I had to decide whether to keep it going or scrap the whole thing. I’ve decided to keep it going! Realistically, I’m not going to have time to write 1000 word posts on here (or follow blogging etiquette by being a great reader to my fellow writers). Instead, I’m going to post excerpts from my book as I write it and also share with you a really special project that I started in 2020.

A man standing on a grassy mound with a large stone circle and the sea in the background
Ring of Brodgar, Orkney, 1999
A woman standing on a grassy mound with a large stone circle and the sea in the background
Ring of Brodgar, Orkney, 2020

It’s my ‘Before and After’ project. My dad’s untimely death ‘split’ my life in two. I can never go back to the carefree days when my world was untouched by Primary CNS Lymphoma. I’m not in a place where I can fully embrace a future without my dad (and I probably never will be). So, I’m building a bridge between the past and that future. In my spare time, I’m re-visiting old childhood haunts with my wee touring caravan, and trying to re-create precious old family photographs. I’m looking forward to sharing these images with you, and the stories behind them.

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67 thoughts

  1. Wow, if I didn’t love Scotland already, this would draw me into its web. Reminds me of the film Local Hero whose images were the reason for my first visit back in the early 80s. Great pictures! And thank you for the follow.

    1. Thanks very much Geoff. ‘Local Hero’ is great film! I hope you’ve enjoyed many more trips to Scotland over the years. You’re welcome and thank you for following me back!

  2. so glad to have found your beautiful photographs of scotland(my native country but not my home-too wet and cold!) thank you for your recent follow, i really appreciate it!

    1. Anne, thank you for your message and for following me back! I’m glad you’re enjoying the photographs. I’m a bit of a fair weather photographer so you’ll manage to avoid the cold and wet on here!

    1. I’m glad you’re enjoying my blog – maybe it’ll inspire you to plan a trip to Scotland!! Thanks for following me back – I’m sure I will enjoy your posts too.

      1. I’m due another trip; one that will include more of the Highlands than I managed last time. My family is in Fife, so I tend not to get much further from “home” than Dundee or Edinburgh.

    1. Thanks very much Andy. I hope you enjoy reading a few of my posts over Christmas and I’m sure I will enjoy reading yours! I expect you’ll see a few familiar places, particularly from my walk around the Fife Coastal Path last year. Have a lovely Christmas and New Year! 🙂

      1. Did you do the charity walk around the coast path, I imagine that would have been great fun Karen 🙂
        Hope you and your family have a Wonderful Christmas and a Very Happy New Year too 🙂

        1. Andy, it was a brilliant adventure – great fun but also mentally and physically challenging walking long distances on consecutive days. I was thrilled to raise over £500 for Cancer Research UK and it really spurred me on when my feet were hurting! I had a lovely Christmas, thank you, and am looking forward to the New Year celebrations! I hope you’re having a brilliant festive time too 🙂

    1. Thank you Robin. I’m looking forward to getting out with my camera again when there’s an improvement in the weather! Northumberland is a lovely part of the world too and I look forward to following your posts.

  3. Hi Karen, I’ve been looking through your photos and they are so beautiful 🙂 Thanks so much for following my blog, Le Chic En Rose, and I’ve signed up to follow you too. I live in a very different Perth on the other side of the world but funnily enough have Scottish ancestors who I traced to Perth in Scotland in the 18th century! Will look forward to seeing more of your posts and lovely photos, best wishes Rosemary 🙂

    1. Hi Rosemary. Thanks very much for your lovely comment and good wishes! I’m glad you like the photographs. I will enjoy following your adventures from the other side of the world. It’s nice to think that you live in Perth Australia but have connections with my home town, Perth Scotland! Best wishes, Karen

  4. So glad to have found you and thank you for the follow. Your pictures…what can I say that hasn’t already been said…so beautiful. Your love of Scotland and the island’s shine through your words and images. Patsy

  5. Why am I so late in thanking you for following my blog? (Better late than never…) You personify so much that excites me: northern latitudes, island-hopping, the colours & textures & sounds of these places — “Last Places” as Lawrence Millman called them, in his amazing book about travels through the north.

    1. Thank you, Penny, and don’t worry – it can be a challenge to keep up-to-date on WordPress! Thanks for bringing Lawrence Millman to my attention. I’ve just added ‘Last Places’ to my Amazon wishlist. I would like to visit Iceland and so I’m sure I’ll enjoy reading about your trek as well as fining out about what you’ve been up to more recently too.

    2. Thank you for mentioning Lawrence Millman, I’ve just ordered ‘Last Places’, very much looking forward to this book. 🙂

  6. The Highlands and Islands are gorgeous. We have some really beautiful scenery at home, we don’t need to go abroad. I am originally from North of Aberdeen, near Peterhead, but now stay just outside North Berwick. My hubbie and I regularly take trips to the Highlands, Inverness, Tain, Orkney, Fort William, Mull of Kintyre, Skye and areas surrounding them. We are lucky to have friends in some of these places. I always feel to relaxed when i’m surrounded by gorgeous views and peace!

    1. We’re fortunate to live in such a beautiful country! I’m glad you appreciate the Highlands and Islands too and manage regular trips north and west. You stay in a lovely part of the world too though. I have happy memories of East Lothian from my Edinburgh years. North Berwick is a nice spot. I love walking along the coast to Yellowcraig, visiting the Scottish Seabird Centre and the view from the summit of Berwick Law is superb!

      1. East Lothian is pretty awesome. I am about a mile from Yellowcraig beach and we regularly take walks there. We are very fortunate to have gorgeous scenery on our doorstep. It can feel like we are on holiday all the time. We have only been here since about 2007, so there are still hidden gems for us to explore.

        1. That sounds idyllic. I feel the same way about living on the Black Isle. I’m less motivated to head off on holiday nowadays as I’m so happy just spending time here. Enjoy those hidden gems!

          1. I will do, I might even incorporate some adventures into the blog! I do love the Black Isle. We were there in the summer, went to Chanory point to see the dolphins, so amazing and I couldn’t believe how close you could get and hubbie enjoyed the Black isle brewery!

          2. Sounds like a great plan! I’m glad you enjoyed your trip to the Black Isle and am delighted the dolphins made an appearance for you – it can be a hit or a miss!

  7. Gorgeous blog! We left Scotland three years ago after living in Edinburgh for over six years (and nearly two in England before that.) Of course, your beautiful images make us so homesick! They capture everything about the Scotland and the Scottish landscape, except the accent! Lovely! Have fun! 😊 Gigi

    1. Thanks so much for your lovely comment and apologies for the slow response (I’m not sure how this slipped through the net). I’m glad my images bring back happy memories for you and I hope you manage to visit Scotland now and again! 🙂

  8. Hi Karen! Thank you for following my blog. I’m so glad it led me back to yours. You take incredible photos and have a gorgeous blog! Looking forward to more posts and exploring your blog further 🙂 – Faye

    1. Thank you very much Faye! Sorry for the delayed response – I’m not sure how I missed your comment until now. I hope you’re still enjoying my blog and I will enjoy exploring yours too. 🙂

  9. Wow it looks like I have a lot to read here when I have finished my final exam in a couple of weeks. Scotland AND Photography – my two favourites (alright, the kids too ;)). Thank you for following me!

    1. Thanks for your comment and apologies for the very slow reply – I’m not sure how this slipped through the net! I hope your final exam went well and you’ve enjoyed catching up on some reading! 🙂

  10. Hi Karen, I’am very happy becouse you are following my blog, I like very much photography but I’am not as professional as you. I’ll learn a lot following your blog and watching your pictures. Thanks a lot!

    1. Hi Joseph. Thank you for your comment and apologies for the extremely slow reply! It’s always a pleasure to connect with other photographers. I’m enjoying checking out your images too! 🙂

    1. Thank you! I’m enjoying looking through your blog too. I visited Morocco in 2008 and loved it – lots of inspiration for artists and photographers.

  11. Browsing through your blog we’ve found so much interesting stuff to read prior to our extended journey to the Highlands and the Hebredies next year. Your photography is outstanding, Karen!
    Best regards,

  12. Hi Karen. It is so nice meeting you. Wow, Scotland! Such a beautiful place. A couple years ago I spent a month in Ireland touring it from North to South and East to West and everywhere central. Fell in love with the area and the people. Scotland is on our bucket list. It is going to be great fun following along with you and seeing the world through your eyes and words.

    1. Hi Tom and Audrey. It’s lovely to meet you too. Thanks for dropping by my blog! I’ve never been to the States or Ireland but I hope to visit both at some point in the future. I expect parts of the Highlands and Islands will be similar to Ireland in many ways, so I hope you’ll fall in love with Scotland too when you tick it off your bucket list. I’ll enjoy following your posts too.

  13. Now there’s a coincidence – I’m just in the throes of writing a story set in Scotland, and then you visit my blog. 🙂
    Thanks so much for following me – your photography is wonderful.
    Kindness – Robert.

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