Fieldwork notes - June 07

Monday 4th of June 2007. Farm road on the Black Isle between the Mains of Tore and the A832. This is a short road in an avenue of trees that I discovered while cycling on the Black Isle back in the summer of 2004. It is under a mile long and goes downhill from the farm at the north end to the A832 in the south. I felt like I was cycling down through a timeless green tunnel. I was there around 3 in the afternoon, and made a note to come again with my video camera around the same time of day - which I eventually did nearly 3 years later!

farm road on the Black Isle, looking from north to south

That morning I had been in Strathdearn with Mark Mulhearn of the European Ethnological Research Centre (now based in Celtic & Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh) making copies of photographs in a private collection for an upcoming EERC publication. We got the job done efficiently and once I had delivered Mark to the bus station, and had my obligitary coffee and newspaper break, I felt ready to tackle the video fieldwork for my ZenBends project. As I had not yet tried out the Sony with the matte-box and filters etc, I thought that this short, quiet road only minutes from Inverness would be the ideal test route. Got there around 3pm and pulled in. I set the camera up using the vaccum mount on the roof and drove uphill from the A832 to the farm at Mains of Tore. At the top of the road, turned about and filmed the route in the direction I had first cycled it in 2004. Stopped and took some stills with the new Nikon D200. At some point the visor on the matte-box had flipped up from the horizontal, so I took it off and did one more journey. Reviewed the footage and felt that I had made the all important start to the fieldwork.

Monday 4th of June 2007. Lochside road on the south side of Lochbroom, from the A835 to Letters, Ardindrean, Rhiroy & Loggie. Arrived in Ullapool around 5, checked into the Royal Hotel and had a few hours to wait until the sun moved to a better direction for filming on the Lochside. After a good meal, headed back up Lochbroom to the junction and stopped on the bridge over the River Broom. It was around 7 pm when I set the camera up, this time on the bonnet of the hired car (a blue Kia Cerano). Used black gaffa tape to keep the visor from flipping up. However, had just started driving when I realised my mistake - I had set the camera up on the driver’s side and consequently had this obstruction in front of me. Reversed back to the bridge and moved camera to the passenger side, re-adjusting the framing. Take 2! My father was born on a croft at Letters on the Lochside so this is a place I have many memories of, especially when visiting on family holidays in the decades past. However, it has been some long time since I have driven along this road and it still looks very much the same in many ways. I stopped between Ardindrean and Rhiroy to take off the visor as I was worried that it was catching the breeze and making the whole camera more likely to shake? Took a few photographs in the evening light, then continued to the end of the road. Many sheep and lambs along the way.

between Ardindrean & Rhiroy on Lochbroom-side

Returned along the road with the light behind me, setting out around 8pm, and back at the head of Lochbroom, stopped to visit the churchyard at Clachan to pay my respects to my grandparents and other family members buried there. Completed the route to the bridge with a brief stop at the crossroads to inspect a hedgehog making his/her way along the road to Croftown. Headed back to Ullapool after 9pm, feeling happy.

Tuesday 5th June 2007. Coigach, from the A835 junction at Drumrunie to Achiltibuie and Badenscallie. Wanted to get the eastlight behind me on this single-track road journey heading westwards past Stac Pollaidh towards Achiltibuie so I set out from a layby just before the turn off at Drumrunie at around 9.35am. Put the camera on the roof, using the vacumm mount. Left the visor off the matte-box to reduce buffeting. It was a fine drive in good light and I stopped briefly at a viewpoint near Achnahaird, before heading by Loch Raa and Loch Vatachan to Achiltibuie and Badenscallie. Stopped filming around 10.10 am. Stills of sheep and signs in Achilitibuie, then headed back the way I had come to the junction at Badnagyle.

view looking east from the junction at Badnagyle, Stac Pollaidh in distance

From Badnagyle to Lochinver on the coast road via Inverkirkaig. Took some stills of the warning signs and the view at the junction and then, keeping the Sony on the roof, set out heading north at around 11 am. It was a glorious drive on a very narrow single-track road that followed the rise and fall of the landscape and at times it felt like a path through the woods or driving along the top of a wall by the coast. I made it into Lochinver at around 11.40 am. Although the route had been quiet I had being driving slowly. Time for a coffee after a good morning’s work and wait for the light to get further south for the afternoon’s planned filming.

Assynt, B869 Lochinver to junction with A894 just south of Kylesku, via Clachtoll, Clashnessie and Drumbeg. Set off from Lochinver around 1.20 pm, with the camera on the roof as before. Lovely countryside and made my first stop near the beach in Clashnessie.

looking north at Clashnessie on the B 869

Took some stills, then carried on to Drumbeg where I made another stop at the viewpoint. The last stretch of the road from Drumbeg to the main road was a bit of a roller-coaster and I made it to the end around 2.20 pm. Both my batteries were running low and needing recharging - that was the end of filming for the day. The skies were starting to look more threatening above the massive bulk of Quinag - time to head back to Inverness.