A Walk In The Highlands
Photographs by Rod MacDonald
In August of 1998 a group of friends and fans rented a house in the southern Scotland countryside for a week and
invited Nicole and I to join them. I played a couple sets of music each evening in the house (joined on
one occasion by England's Terry Clarke), as well as appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and in a local pub, where we all got down with the
locals. It was a wonderful time, and was captured on video by Tim Blixt and Gary Ashorn, and on photos by Arthur Wood and myself.
Since Gary is also a pro videographer, his company, Digital Memories, produced AWalk In The Highlands as a full-length
video, which includes music performances and some still photos which really look great on your TV.
The group has since been to Nova Scotia and France, and is going to Tuscany in September 2007.
For details of future excursions please write to NK527@optonline.net.
Click on any photo to see it full size.
All photos available as prints or computer printouts (see below)
All photos shot on slide film and when printed have a higher resolution and longer life than prints made from print film. To order a copy of the video, "A Walk In The Highlands," click here.
We had a few days before we went to the house, so we rented a car and drove into the Scottish highlands, passing Loch Lomond, truly a beautiful lake to drive beside, then upwards toward Fort William, past a few wild-looking peaks towering above the flat green landscape below.
We spent the evening in a local pub with some old friends, then made the 5 a.m. drive to Mallaig, two hours of one-lane winding road to the sea. There we caught the ferry for the three-hour trip to Canna, where we had heard there were puffins.
Our B & B
Canna is a small island, its calm harbor wrapped in a horsheshoe of green land, with a small mountain behind the house where we slept a couple of hours.
Then we started walking, past the schoolhouse where the children of the island's 17 adult residents study their lessons, past the abandoned church that marks the edge of the settlement, past someone's shrine, to the far cliffs overlooking the isle of Rhum.
End of the Isle
Here, at the extreme and unpopulated end of the island, three-hundred foot cliffs stand opposite a giant rock of equal height, known locally as "The Stack". Also sheer on its sides, it is totally inaccessible, and thus provides a safe home for hundreds of puffins.
Puffins On the Cliffs
Unfortunately, they were still a hunded yards away, and too small to photograph. So we waited, and explored, and eventually they got used to us, and came to our side of the abyss for awhile, watching the sea from a different angle, allowing us to get closer.
Puffins Up Close
What're You Lookin'At?
Crawling on my stomach to within a few feet of the small birds, I shot these photos on the cliff edges.
Rhum, incidentally, is the last known address of my father's direct ancestor in Scotland; according to the official records, he moved to Nova Scotia in 1808 and never went back.
So it was interesting to pass the island the next morning on the ferry. Today, Rhum is a nature preserve, with only a ranger and his family there. It has no harbor, so the cargo (and sometimes passengers) are sub-ferried to shore on a dinghy.
Shearing The Sheep
We had a quick lunch in Mallaig and moved on, taking the afternoon boat to Skye, where, on a rare sunny day, we visited the Clan Donald Center, observed a sheep being sheared, had a photo op at a ruin, and spent the night in a backpacker hostel overlooking the bay.
Photo Op (photo by Nicole)
The next morning we headed for Portree, Skye's capital. It rained hard all night and all the next day, but we pressed on, driving the one-lane road along the cliffs around the top of Skye,visiting historic sights such as the grave of Flora MacDonald, who hid Bonnie Prince Charlie, the last royal Scot to attempt independence, as he escaped the British armies. his destruction total, only his person worth saving.
Cold, wet, and needing some hot tea, we turned up a gravel road to an isolated cafe, and found there the ruin where Prince Charles Stuart had spent his last night in his own country dressed as a maid, the British scouring the countryside for him. Like the song says, he had come "over the sea to Skye" in flight. We crossed back to the mainland, stopping briefly at Loch Ness to pay our respects to Nessie,
Edinburgh street performer
then headed south to Dun's for our week at the country house. During the following week, we visited the Edinburgh Festival and the Abbotsford home of the noted writer, Sir Walter Scott.