20 Apr 2017 Ardnamurchan adventure
At Corrachadh Mòr – the westernmost point on the British mainland – the wind is ceaseless. It tears at my jacket as I set up my tripod on ancient lava flows, frozen beneath pastel-blue skies and gilt-edged clouds. Before me, the Atlantic pounds the rocks and stretches out to a horizon marked, here and there, by the indistinct blur of distant squalls. When those squalls make landfall I shelter behind grey boulders, protecting my cameras from the stinging rain. From Corrachadh Mòr – an unmarked rocky hillock jutting into the sea – the distant Ardnamurchan Lighthouse and its access road are the sole signs of civilisation. More than anywhere else I’ve visited in Britain, this place feels like it’s at the edge of the world. It’s that remoteness that makes this visit so fundamental to my personal project, which will see me travel the length and breadth of Great Britain to photograph its four extreme points – northernmost, southernmost, easternmost and westernmost.
Wilderness, remoteness and solitude have always been key motivators in my travel photography and street photography. Looking over my portfolio I can see two types of solitude: there’s the kind I feel when I’m alone in a crowd or urban space, and the kind I feel here at Corrachadh Mòr – where I’m at least two hours away from the nearest person. My personal project focuses squarely on the second kind of solitude. In each location I will make a self-portrait showing me alone in the landscape, as well as a picture of the landscape itself. I hope this will yield eight very different photographs, while still reflecting on the factors that unite those locations.
So, what of the other three places? The southernmost spot, Lizard Point (in Cornwall) is a tourist beacon, with cream teas available at two cafés just five minutes away. Dunnet Head – another windswept Scottish promontory, and Great Britain’s northernmost point – is remoter, but still so laden with tourists when I visit it’s hard to find a moment to capture the solitary selfie (more on that in another post). Lowestoft Ness, the easternmost point, is in a Suffolk seaside town, so I expect an early start to catch good light and loneliness.
Those three places are special by dint of geography, and it’s right that people are able to visit and share the beauty – I hope to share the beauty with you too, here and through my project. But I can’t deny that Corrachadh Mòr is the place I most wanted to visit, largely because it’s devoid of tourism. It took me four hours to drive to Kilchoan from Glasgow; another hour to drive to Ardnamurchan Lighthouse; and then an hour-long trudge across bogs, burns, rocks and reeds to reach it. It is, in every sense, the remotest place I’ve visited in Britain – a fitting spot for a project about solitude.