The River Sligachan


What’s the longest you’ve ever been without a shower? I got to five nights (it was just me in the van!) before I started going a bit stir crazy and decided that I seriously needed a bath and a night in a proper bed.

My hotel of choice was the Sligachan, on the Isle of Skye, and I totally lucked out – not only is it genuinely a lovely hotel, it’s right next to a mountain range and the River Sligachan, which is, one would imagine, from where it got its name.

I didn’t waste too much time in exploring the said mountain range and river, and went for a good stroll to check out the scenery and find a subject.

For this shot, I had a specific goal in mind; after several days of continuous photography with not too much to show for it, I was increasingly aware of the risk that I was starting to run on automatic, running through a step-by-step process and shooting more formulaically from my brain than from my heart.

When I think seriously of my photography, I think of Kyudo – Japanese archery – where the aim is not to hit the target, but to give oneself completely to the act of shooting the arrow, as a spiritual practice.
In other words, my goal with my photography is not necessarily to come away with an amazing photograph (although obviously I very much want to) but to engage fully with the act of photography – to be fully present and engaged in the art and practice, and of the nature around me.

Furthermore, I believe that the most powerful photography is that which the viewer is able to connect with emotionally – and I think that this can only truly happen if it’s created emotionally, not cognitively or academically.

So what I did was stop at a spot which felt full of promise, and just sat there for half an hour – not looking for a composition or trying to see a photograph, just attempting to be present in, and connect with the environment.

Eventually, this is the shot that emerged. It was physically challenging due to some (more) very slippery rocks and having to stand with one foot in the river and the other angled on loose rocks, and it definitely wasn’t helped by the good old Scottish midges, but even so, I remember this as one of the more serene moments of my wee adventure.

This photograph was immediately followed by a very welcome cooked dinner (heaven after lots of pasta and Pot Noodles) and a long-overdue bath, accompanied by a good old glass of Scotch and a Mars Bar (not deep fried).

I also set the alarm for 03:30 for a sunrise the next morning.

This is photo 6 of 10 from my 2017 Scotland trip.

Part of the Everywhere else collection.

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