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Issue 26 - Arisaig

History & Heritage

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Scotland Magazine Issue 26
April 2006


This article is 12 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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Photographer Andy Hall looks at the favourite place of singer and songwriter Gerry Rafferty

When I’m on my photographic travels, there are several tracks I love listening to and I always associate them with roads. One of these is the seventies classic, Baker Street, by Gerry Rafferty. This is usually played as I travel up the A9 from Pitlochry before turning off to Fort William and on up the Road to the Isles to Mallaig, one of the most beautiful drives in Scotland. Your reward at the end of the journey is the beautiful beach just north of Arisaig, looking over towards Rum and Eigg.

This view is the one chosen by Gerry for my book A Sense of Belonging to Scotland: Further Journeys. Gerry is originally from Paisley but he often spent family holidays in this beautiful place, just beyond the Back of Keppoch on the way to Mallaig.

There are many ways to photograph this scene but I chose a bright summer’s day to emphasise the whiteness of the beach in contrast to a lovely blue sky. Gerry’s description is also in these conditions and I wanted to recreate this childhood memory for him, playing with his brothers in the sand from the age of seven.

The skyline of Rum and Eigg is instantly recognisable but I was attracted by the rocky foreground. In photography, foregrounds are very important. Often, you find yourself in a lovely landscape and you can be disappointed when you get your pictures back.

This is because you are looking at a twodimensional image. You need to recreate the third dimension of depth by including a foreground of rocks or a tree, for example. Alternatively, a leadin line of a river or a wall has the same effect. Depth and the illusion of depth is an important aspect of landscape photography.

I’ve found that this road from Fort William is an excellent way of making your way to the Hebrides. Rather than crossing the Skye Bridge, you can get the ferry to Armadale in the south of Skye and drive up through Sleat, the Garden of Skye before heading across to Uig to catch the ferry to Tarbert in Harris or Lochmaddy in North Uist. If there is no pressure of time, I’d recommend this route to all first-time visitors to Scotland as well as seasoned travellers.

Another recommendation is an overnight bed and breakfast stay with Jeanette and Bruce Watt at the Western Isles Guest House in Mallaig, before getting the morning ferry to Armadale. This is Highland hospitality at its best and a breakfast that will last you all day!