Fieldwork notes - Oct’ 07

Headed north on Friday the 12th of October to Strathdearn and the roads of my childhood. Lovely time of year and I was lucky with the weather. Arrived in Strathdearn around 4pm and set up the camera once I had turned off the A9 just north of Slochd Summit onto the old A9 that runs through the village of Tomatin.

From Bridgend up Strathdearn to Coignafearn in the Monadliath mountains. Friday 12th October, 2007.

sign at the end of the public road at Coignafearn

Set off heading south west but few problems with sunlight as the sky was overcast. Camera mounted on the roof. 10 miles or so of winding single-track road through remote country looking lovely in the colours of October. I reached the sign pictured above around 4.30 pm, and parked among the hills - so quiet and still. Filmed the return journey and stopped on the way to take some stills and also at the churchyard of Dalarossie. Ended my filming around 5pm in the car park of the village hall in Tomatin. Then it was north to Inverness to stay with my brother Douglas and his family for the weekend.

Drive from Inverness to Wester Ross on Saturday 13th of October. Took the A835 to Garve, and turned west on the A832 to Achnasheen, then on down the newly widened stretch of road in Glen Docherty to Kinlochewe and Loch Maree. Heavy sky and low light.

‘Beware of deer’ sign on the A832

Single-track road section of the A832 from Loch Bad an Sgalaig to Gairloch. Mounted the camera on the roof and drove the 7 or so miles into Gairloch, where I stopped for a much needed lunch. Headed on north on the A832 past Poolewe and Aultbea. Passed many roads that I wanted to explore, but the light was discouraging. Eventually, stopped at Laide and filmed the road from Laide to Mellon Udrigle and back. Many sheep and some wonderful views of the hills and the water. Back on the main road and headed back on the drive to Inverness.

Sunday 14th of October 2007. Dalmagary to Ruthven and Shenachie.

The road returns to nature beyond Ruthven

The ‘bucket bridge’ over the Findhorn river at Shenachie was a popular destination in my youth and this road is one that I used to walk and cyle on many times as a child. Today it was quiet - no traffic at all and the light was just perfect. Set off leaving the madness of the A9 around noon. Put the Sony on the roof and filmed as I drove. After Ruthven, a new gate blocked the route, but was not padlocked, so through I went. The shiny, silver hired Astra spent the next few miles in second gear or below as I tried to keep the ride as smooth as possible - didn’t fancy the camera coming off the roof, and it says a lot for the vacuum mount that it was still secure at the end.

October colours in Strathdearn and I’m happy!

Inhaled lungfulls of good highland air at Shenachie, and stowed the camera and the mount carefully in the boot. Bouncy ride back but stopped to take stills here and there. Felt like I was wandering about in some sort of 3D calendar of Scotland in Autumn. Lovely end to this phase of the ZenBends project. It was back on the A9, heading south to Edinburgh and thinking about how I was going to show these films to people.