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Issue 17 - In tune with Scotland

Scotland Magazine Issue 17
November 2004


This article is 14 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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In tune with Scotland

Top band Runrig bring their homeland to life through their music. Here are the places that have inspired them over the years. Text and pictures by Andy Hall

Runrig is Scotland’s premier Celtic rock band. The band has enjoyed immense popularity over the past 30 years at home in Scotland and overseas.

One of the undoubted highlights of Runrig’s career was the open-air concert they played at Balloch Country Park, Loch Lomond, when 50,000 people gathered for what was to be an unforgettable occasion for those who were lucky enough to attend.

When I was asked to take photographs for their 2005 calendar, Loch Lomond seemed the obvious location for one of the key images.

The concept was to photograph the band members in beautiful locations while participating in their favourite pastimes. Founding members and brothers, Calum and Rory Macdonald respectively chose angling on North Uist, Calum’s birthplace, and hill running in the Pentlands, south of Edinburgh.

For drummer Iain Bayne’s golfing location, Boat of Garten Golf Club in Speyside provided a stunning Cairngorm backdrop, particularly in late afternoon light.

The Loch Lomond shot was for keyboard player Brian Hurren in his chosen pursuit of listening to music while enjoying his surroundings. Duncryne Hill near Gartocharn, affectionately known as The Dumpling, was chosen as the viewpoint.

Brian and I were completely unprepared for the breathtaking view on reaching the summit of its easily manageable 100 metre slopes.

The vista is the whole of Loch Lomond, out over the islands with the Arrochar Alps and Ben Lomond beyond.

Along with many thousands of fans across the globe, I love Runrig’s music.

To be able to rise to the challenge of capturing the beauty and diversity of these places for them has been one of the highlights of my photographic career.

One of the unique aspects of Edinburgh is its openness and proximity to unspoilt landscape: from the tantalising glimpses of the Forth, viewed through the New Town streets, to the dominating presence of Arthur’s Seat, the volcanic hill and country park rising above Holyrood and the Royal Mile, within the heart of the city.

Then there are the Pentlands – 15 miles of rolling, grass and heather-covered hills that stretch from Hillend, by the edge of the city bypass, southwards, past Silverburn, Balerno and Carlops, to Dunsyre. You can find yourself on Princes Street, safe in the knowledge that all it takes is a drive out the A702 and you’ll be feeling the air on Scald Law within the hour. What a precious amenity on a city’s doorstep.

Growing up in St. Andrews, in Fife, it was hard to avoid playing golf.

In fact it is very much a family tradition.

As a born and bred links player (playing courses that hug the coastline) I have relished the challenge of some of the inland courses that litter this oasis of golf.

One such wee gem is the Boat of Garten Golf Club. Nestling in the Spey Valley, against the backdrop of the Cairngorm Mountains.

This is most certainly one of the most picturesque courses you will ever play on.

It is made up of tight fairways lined with birch and pine that pitch and undulate, demanding careful thought and a measure of luck.

Putting on velvet greens to the song of the Spey may help to sink the odd long one.

Keep the head down, keep the head down!

It is amazing to think that a few miles from a really busy city, there are scenes like this one. It is so peaceful.

When I was younger, my family would all go sightseeing and hill climbing, enjoying day trips to the various parks that surround Loch Lomond.

It is so strange, yet reassuring for me, that such a defining landmark from my childhood was to cross my path later in life when I started working as a professional musician, working for Runrig - a band that will be forever identified with the famous Loch.

North Uist is my spiritual home. I was born and raised there in the 50s, the last decade of innocence, before electricity and television closed the ceilidh door, bridging the old order and the new. As a result of that influence, I have lived my life ever since, somewhere along the bridge.

North Uist always draws me back. It means the indelible bond of family but beyond that there is the landscape – the big skies, the long moors, the magnificent light, the sense of history.

Whether you are an artist or an angler, North Uist is your paradise.

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