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Beyond the Cairn, Journal...

It was March 2022 when I first travelled up to the Cairngorms to begin this photographic project. We are now 16 months and four trips to this national park onwards and only now am I getting a real sense of the aesthetic that I'd like this project to take. As I have mentioned previously, as grand as the Cairngorm plateau appears when driving up the A9 into the Highlands; it doesn't have that immediate drama of the jagged mountains of Torridon or Assynt, for example. However, once we get into this vast mountain range its beauty and power become evident. These mountains are almost three times the height of those in Assynt! The Cairngorms National Park is as close as we get to true wilderness in the UK. Photographically it is a challenge. How to convey the powerful emotions that arise in me when I'm here, photographically, is my objective.

I have biked and hiked many miles into the wilderness for relatively little reward photographically. I might go a whole week without a photograph that I'm truly pleased with. It's most definitely not wasted time however as I will often find compositions to come back to in autumn or winter. I regard these journeys as something much more than seeking an image. They are definitely a healing journey, physically and mentally. It may sound cliche but I genuinely do feel more alive here. Mountains, vast forests, raging rivers and magnificent wildlife leave one feeling very humbled. Everything else seems of little concern.

Since I began this project, which feels like a natural progression from 'Where Ravens Soar', I have kept a journal. Below is a brief excerpt:

"At midday I set off from Drumguish, following the Cairngorm loop trail parallel to the beautiful river Tromie. It was a cold but very bright day, with little wind. Perfect riding conditions. After an hour or so I came to a mountain hut with a rickety bridge over the river. I’d seen a climb snaking its way up a steep hillside towards the snow capped mountain beyond. I wanted to challenge myself. I needed to prove I can still do the things that I strived for before the health issues kicked me in. I was up for this. Cycling upwards on the rocky trail, the only sound that of tyres rolling over rocky terrain. Occasionally I’d spook a black grouse, which are wonderful to see. Higher and higher, I span my legs, having to walk a couple of times, but not for long. Eventually I came to the highest point that I could see from down below, as I suspected this was a blind summit and I had further to climb. The trail came to a sudden end on the way up Meall Chuaich."

My bike pictured against said rickety bridge!

I'm looking forward to this project developing over the foreseeable future, sharing my thoughts on landscape, creativity and well being along the way. As well as the blog, my website and Instagram I have also started up a YouTube channel. My aim is to make an accompanying film for this project. I'd really appreciate subscribers over there! Please see the YouTube link below...

If you're feeling particularly generous you can also support me via the 'Buy me a Coffee' link here, any little will help me towards funding this project.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this blog post. If you'd like to join me on an upcoming workshop, please see the itinerary here. I am also available for online tuition (any subject, tailored to your needs) and 1-2-1. Don't hesitate to send me a message with any questions you may have.

Have a great weekend.


PS, you can view the series thus far here - Beyond the Cairn.

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