Out West

The next batch of galleries at Detail looks closer to home, recording trips to the west of Scotland going back over a decade. It’s a beautiful part of the country, with plenty of out-of-the-way places little-known to tourists.


When our son was only eighteen months old we took advantage of a friend’s holiday cottage for a two-week getaway at the end of the summer to Plockton, a small village at the end of the train line from Inverness, not far from the bridge to Skye. It was briefly known in the 1990s as the setting for the BBC series Hamish Macbeth, starring Robert Carlyle and largely written by Danny Boyle, before Trainspotting made them famous. This quiet village was as far from the seedy nightlife of Leith as you could get. Without a car, we explored it on foot whatever the weather, and caught a local bus to Kyle of Localsh to look further afield, even venturing over the bridge to Skye and Castle Moil. Some photos from the nearby beach at Camas Dubh Àird featured in Scottish Sand, and I also unearthed two panoramas of the place.


Our next trip to the west coast was several years later, when we packed up our small car and made our way along single-track roads to Kilchoan on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula to go camping. Ardnamurchan is dominated by the extinct volcano of Ben Hiant, mirroring the volcanic remnants on the isle of Mull opposite. On our first trip to Kilchoan we didn’t make it to Mull, but when I took the kids back last year we caught the ferry over and spent a day looking around there as well.

There’s a 2014 panorama of Kilchoan and many more from 2018 in Panoramas XII, which also features Mull, Sanna and Glencoe.


Sanna was the highlight of our trips to Ardnamurchan. A short drive from Kilchoan through the crater of Ben Hiant takes you to one of the best beaches in Scotland, and both times we visited we had brilliant sunshine, which made for countless photo opportunities. There are also a few 2014 panoramas of Sanna and several from 2018.


In 2014 we made a second west-coast camping trip to another fine beach at Camusdarach, near Mallaig. We had one day of sunshine there before a storm closed in, but it was enough to get some good photos, including a few more panoramas.


Most trips to the west coast pass through the most storied pass in Scotland, at Glencoe. This gallery features photos from Glencoe and neighbouring Glen Etive from 2014 and 2018, as well as some going back to April 2004.


In December 2016 we travelled north with some family members to the Cairngorms (which are technically west of Edinburgh), to spend a few days there between Christmas and New Year. It made for photos of bark and lichen rather than seaweed and shells, along with the snow-covered mountains of the Cairngorms themselves. This trip also yielded some panoramas.


Last October we spent a week on a farm in Whithorn, in the Machars of Galloway in Scotland’s southwest. Whithorn was once a town of major religious significance, with a mediaeval cathedral (since ruined) and nearby pilgrim locations associated with St Ninian. There are also some good standing stones and other neolithic ruins dotting the surrounding farms; and just up the road is Wigtown, site of an annual book festival. I enjoyed an account by a local bookseller of life in a second-hand bookshop there, which I bought from the man himself in his shop; reading it over subsequent weeks kept the memory of our trip pleasantly alive. I’d happily go back. (Were there panoramas, you ask? But of course.)

Other plans mean that I probably won’t make it out west this year, but I hope it won’t be too long before I do.

25 June 2019 · Travel