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[Me]

Touring Britain bit by bit with a pair of boots, a few bicycles, a lot of trains and a bag of lenses. I take pictures and then I write about them.

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abandoned places and things architecture bristol coastal cumbria dorset events highlands history industrial lake district lakes london mountains not the uk photo essays photography politics protests rural rural decay scotland somerset structures the north uk urban urban decay wales westcountry • all tags


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Sun, 9 Mar 2014

Under the hills of Torridon

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There aren't many more stunning parts of the country than Torridon in Wester Ross on the coast of the Northwest Highlands.

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The steeply enclosed Glen Torridon, with its mountain river tumbling down from the Coulin Estate, and its mirror lochans like Lochan an Iasgair.

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Opening out to the sea loch, Loch Torridon, dotted with tiny fishing villages like Shieldaig and Diabaig and Torridon itself.

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Under the modestly named Torridon Hills; the long and slender Liathach and the silver-backed rocky Beinn Eighe.

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All standing above the rocky west coast.

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I should probably go back and climb some of the hills some day.

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[Tag] Tags: highlands, mountains, northwest highlands, rural, scotland, torridon hills, torridon, uk, wester ross


Sun, 9 Jun 2013

Crossing the Moorfoot Hills

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From where it flows into the Tweed at Innerleithin, a solitary road runs up alongside the Leithen Water — Abhainn Leitheinn, the grey river — and is soon enclosed in perfect round and green hills.

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It twists and turns and climbs northwards through these, the Moorfoot Hills, treading a path between Whitehope Law and Windlestraw Law.

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Part of the Southern Uplands: a fine set of landscapes, but generally neglected by most outside of southern and central Scotland — overshadowed by the more extreme geology of the Highlands, or by similar hill ranges in places more accessible from Britain's other centres of population.

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The road summits one valley and drops into the next.

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Passing the now neglected circular drystone sheep stells that for several centuries provided the livestock in the hills with winter shelter from wind and drifting snow.

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Then repeats the process, climbing again from this central valley of the Blackhope Water, a tributary of the Heriot, which cuts east through the hills.

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Past the windfarm on Peat Hill.

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Climbing high into the windswept moorland landscape.

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Before abruptly hitting the Esk Valley and the lowlands of Midlothian in a long straight steep scarp.

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View Larger Map


[Tag] Tags: hills, moorfoot hills, roads, rural, scotland, scottish borders, southern uplands, uk


Sun, 21 Oct 2012

The standing stones of Machrie Moor

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On the west side of Arran — the "Scotland in miniature" island of the Firth of Clyde — you might find a gateway, half hidden in high hedges, with a sign indicating the path to Machrie Moor.

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The track winds through the sheep fields and scrubland, and past a small and slightly mediocre fenced-off stone circle.

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To a little yard of part-ruined stone barns.

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And thence to the great array of neolithic structures, from clumps of squat granite boulder circles to triplets of tall sandstone megaliths.

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All set in the wide valley of the Machrie Water, around the point where a midsummer sun rises in the centre of the valley's dip on the horizon...

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...against the backdrop of Ard Bheinn and the view to the distant Goatfell in the island's mountainous north.

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View Larger Map View Bird's Eye


[Tag] Tags: arran, highlands, history, islands of the clyde, machrie moor, rural, scotland, stone circles, uk


Sun, 7 Oct 2012

Hill climb

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[Tag] Tags: chile, cycling, downland, moors, mountains, patagonia, roads, rural, scotland, the north, uk, westcountry


Sun, 2 Sep 2012

On Calton Hill

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When arriving in Edinburgh, whether by two wheels from over the Moorfoot Hills or up the towpath on the Union Canal, or especially by Lowland Sleeper arriving on time before breakfast is served, one can't miss out a first five minute detour to greet the city from atop Calton Hill.

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To survey it all laid out around you in the dawn twilight or warm evening sunshine of arrival time.

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Survey the trains and traffic snaking and scuttling between the spires and turrets of cathedrals and castles, and the towers and domes of railway stations and municipal chambers.

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Survey the chimneys and cranes and colourful council flats standing out in their sea of Georgian terraces and simple sturdy grey Victorian tenement blocks offset in the spring by streets and squares of trees.

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Stretching out inland to the great mound of the Pentland Hills.

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Flowing around the jagged lump of Arthur's Seat to Musselburgh and Portobello.

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And up against the Firth of Forth and the North Sea, and out into it at Leith Docks and Granton Harbour

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Where giant boats, rocky islands, and drilling platforms rest lit against the Fife coast and the distant Ochil Hills.

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A brilliant cityscape, all to be surveyed from beside the structures and monuments of the World Heritage city, five minutes walk from the railway station.

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More pictures can be found in the Edinburgh gallery

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[Tag] Tags: cityscapes, edinburgh, scotland, uk, urban, world heritage sites


Sun, 15 Jul 2012

The Crinan Canal

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Not your usual inland navigation: the 14km canal from sea to sea — Ardrishaig on Loch Gilp in the east and Crinan on the Sound of Jura in the west, cutting across the top of the long and narrow Kintyre-Knapdale peninsula — built in 1794 for commercial sea going sailing vessels.

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Later replaced by steamboats, the Clyde Puffers, cargo carriers between Glasgow and the Hebridean islands and isolated West Highland coastal communities.

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And now in turn largely replaced by private yachts, taking advantage of the 100km shortcut and bypass of the exposed waters around the Kintyre peninsula that are provided by the canal.

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And by towpath tourists taking in the views to the islands and out over the Moine Mhòr to the mountains.

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[Tag] Tags: canals, highlands, history, industrial, rural, scotland, uk


Sun, 17 Jun 2012

A82

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The A82 between Tyndrum and North Ballachulish in the West Highlands is a remarkable road.

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Astonishing not just for the breathtaking moorland and mountain landscape that it floats across and weaves through.

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And the extraordinarily difficult remote and hostile conditions in which it was constructed, across deep peat bogs, around peaks and lochans and over fast flowing and frequently frozen mountain rivers.

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But because it was built in 1931 to a very distinctive engineering style which is rarely seen in our mediaeval lanes or our modern roads made up of computer generated continuous gentle curves.

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It is more like a Roman Road or the military roads built to suppress the Jacobite risings, in following perfect straight lines for many miles at a time across the flatter parts of the moor, joined in short curves.

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But maintaining a relatively flat and practical course, across the rocky mountain streams on reinforced concrete bridges and viaducts, built in situ to graceful but experimental designs that haven't been seen since the discovery of the boring but cheap square beams on straight stilts method of road bridge construction.

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It’s one of those few places that actually bears some resemblance to the great open road of car adverts and Top Gear features — the thing, the freedom, the lifestyle that people are told that they are buying when they get conned into a daily grind of traffic jams on cluttered streets and webs of dull computer-designed roundabout-linked suburban distributor roads, and all the ill-health and unhappiness that comes with it.

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Except that this is still a real road, with real traffic and real drivers. So the moor is littered with broken plastic and glass; bumpers and hub caps and metal slowly sinking into the peat. Better the quick death by car here than the slow one on the ring road, perhaps?

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More pictures in the Highlands gallery.

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[Tag] Tags: bridges, highlands, history, mountains, photo essays, rannoch moor, roads, rural, scotland, uk


Tue, 5 Jun 2012

Denny Church Walk

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I stumbled upon this riding down to Falkirk from Stirling in January.

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The great concrete 1960s Church Walk blocks in Denny, Falkirk, officially Scotland's Most Dismal Town 2010.

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The townsfolk requested the honour, hoping that it would help to prod the council into action over their incongruous "carbuncle".

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The first blocks had already been demolished by the time I discovered it; the rest have been smashed and chipped and shipped away over the past few months.

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[Tag] Tags: architecture, council housing, denny, falkirk, scotland, structures, uk, urban decay, urban


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