I was first introduced to the Falls of Falloch when I saw a photograph posted on Facebook by photographer Ross Gilmore. To date, I have now visited the falls twice, my first visit was in July and my second was in October. The falls were more spectacular in July which is not surprising, after all, we all know how wet the west of Scotland can be in during the summer months.
The Falls of Falloch are Situated in the north part of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park and are just over three miles from the village of Crianlarich on the A82. The falls are 30 feet high and are part of the River Falloch which passes through Glen Falloch before entering Loch Lomond at Ardlui.
My first visit in July was not planned as such, we had planned to travel up to Loch Lomond for the day and decided to continue up the A82 which is the sort of thing that always makes days out more interesting. The falls are sign posted and after turning off the main road it is only a very short distance to the car park. The car park is a decent size and I have always been able to get a parking space, if you are unlucky and all the spaces have been taken I would wait in your car, most people only stop here for a quick look and a photograph.
My second visit in October was planned as a stopping point on my way up to Fort William, it gives you the chance to stretch your legs on what is a long journey. I had also packed more gear for this trip so I was able to use some neutral density filters to get a slow shutter speed for that silky look to the water.
From the car park it is only a short walk up to the main area to view the falls, there are also benches at this point so if your not in to much of a hurry you can have a seat and enjoy the beauty of nature in a peaceful glen.
If you continue on the path past this viewing point you will come to another much higher viewing point in the form of a steel cage in the trees. This steel viewing point was designed by John Kennedy and is called Woven Sound. A diary entry from Dorothy Wordsworth recalling the numerous Romantic writers and painters who visited the Falls in the early 19th century is etched into a steel plate at the end of Woven Sound.
The Falls of Falloch are also known as Rob Roy’s bathtub and is a popular spot for a bit of wild swimming and diving, I would imagine the temperature of the water would prevent most people from staying in to long.
If you happen to be travelling along the A82 the Falls of Falloch are a well worthwhile stopping off point.
If you drive along the western edge of Loch Ken between Mossdale and New Galloway you will have the chance to visit the falls on Lowran Burn. The falls are not as spectacular as Aira Force and I suppose are not really falls in the true sense of the word where you have a cascade of water fallen from height but if you enjoy photography and want a subject to try out your skills with a neutral density filter this is ideal.
This is an easy access location with space for parking a small number of cars just a few yards further up the road after the bridge on the right hand side but as Loch Ken is a popular spot for fishing you may find the parking is full. Other parking is available before and after this spot but this would then involve a slightly further walk.
As I said, the falls are not large but at the right time of year after a heavy rain fall there can be a large volume of water flowing down the burn and on into Loch Ken which does make it a worthwhile sight with the minimum of effort required if you intend to do any photography or video work.
During the summer months when the surrounding trees are thick with leaves there is not a lot of light on the burn and it is very easy to miss the falls but when autumn comes along and the trees lose their foliage the burn takes on a whole new look with light now able to pass between the branches of the many surrounding trees. The autumn leaves on the ground add a nice warm look while the clumps of bracken and bright green moss add to the overall look of the scene especially if you are lucky enough to visit on bright sunlight day with a bit of blue sky showing through the trees.
Over the years I have seen and heard a lot of folk musicians and bands, French, English, Irish and of course Scottish. Some have left me looking at my watch wondering how much longer they can drag out their show while others have left me spell bound with a brilliant blend of musicianship and stage presence.
When I saw Auld Hat - New Heids were due to play at The Fullarton I contacted Ian Bruce to seek permission to photograph the band. I first met Ian several years ago when he was recording Robert Shields’s first album at his studio just outside Castle Douglas, later on that year I also had the opportunity to photograph Ian during a solo performance at The Lochside Theatre, the venue has since been renamed The Fullarton.
Auld Hat - New Heids consists of four experienced Scottish folk musicians, brothers, Fraser and Ian Bruce, fiddle player, Pete Clark and accordionist Gregor Lowery. The show is billed as four musicians who have teamed up to present Scottish songs seldom now heard, but once the basis of the folk revival in the 1960’s and 70’s. The performers also hope to create a feel good factor and audience participation.
The lights dimmed in the auditorium and the performers made their way onto the stage and after a quick introduction of the members of the band in was time to get on with the first song, Doon in the Wee Room (Underneath the Stair). The band were hoping for a feel good factor and audience participation this was immediately achieved with the audience happily singing along in the chorus.
The evening was not just about singing Scottish folk songs it was about memories of folk clubs in the 60s and 70s with each song being introduced by Fraser who used a slideshow with photographs as he talked about the composers and performers he knew who had made each of the songs famous.
The evening was entertaining and informative and although some die hard folk experts may have already known all of the facts being delivered during the song introductions I am sure many including myself left The Fullarton with a bit more knowledge about the origins of some of the best known and loved Scottish folk songs.
The success of any live concert will always be judged by the audience and on this occasion it was obvious the high standard of musicianship displayed by these experienced musicians and the fabulous harmony work was appreciated by all those present. It’s always good to see performers interact with an audience who then become an important part of this successful show. I spoke to several members of the audience later on that evening, all of them had thoroughly enjoyed their night out at The Fullarton in the company of Fraser, Ian, Pete and Gregor.
This was an entertaining, humorous and informative evening in the company of Auld Hats - New Heids, a show you should try and see.
Sometimes you set off with a plan to visit one place and you end up with an added bonus and find somewhere new, this is what happened when we went for a drive to Largs. I know my days out are not on par with some great explorer who heads into some uncharted region of the Amazon rain forest but at least we can normally get there and back in a day.
Before our visit, which was in August 2011 what did I know about Largs.
Well I knew it was a seaside resort on the coast of the Clyde and is popular with day trippers and was a destination during the height of the popular Doon the Watter trips. I remember as a young boy in the early 1960s going on trip on the Queen Mary 2 but I think we only went as far as Rothsey. I also knew it was home to Scottish actress Daniela Nardini and of course the famous art deco Nardini’s cafe, restaurant and ice cream parlour. It was during the year of our visit Largs also became famous as the home town of Euromilions winners Colin and Christine Weir.
When driving anywhere for a day out, parking is one of the main priorities, on this occasion we were lucky enough to get parked without any problem in the main car park which overlooked the Firth of Clyde.
From the car park I spotted two ferries working their way back and forward across the Clyde from Largs, curiosity got the better of me and it was off to the CalMac ticket office to investigate. Clutching my ticket in my hand it’s off to wait for the next ferry and our bonus destination of the day, a trip across the Clyde to the Isle of Cumbrae, also known as Great Cumbrae. Doing something different is what days out are all about and it’s not everyday I travel by ferry, easily pleased there was an additional break from normality when we had to get a bus for the short journey into Millport.
The island is small, only four miles long and two miles wide and I could imagine this would be an ideal destination for an outdoor holiday if you enjoy walking or cycling, there's also a golf course if that's your sport. Millport itself offered all of the amenities you would expect from a small town. The island also hosts a country and western festival.
If I was to visit again I would take the car over with me just to give me a bit more freedom to explore the rest of the island.
Back on the mainland we finished off our day trip to Largs with of course, an ice cream from Nardini’s.
There is no getting away from the fact that the internet is a great resource and source of information, pre Google if you wanted to learn about something you had to be taught by someone with the knowledge or research the information yourself which would normally mean a trip to the library. I found pod casts by Creative Cow a great place to learn about video editing software and it was while watching one of these I first learned about Seahouses and decided that it would be a nice place to visit, it only took me about two years to get round to this trip and this is what I found.
Seahouses is a small fishing village on the north Northumberland coast and is a popular holiday resort with one of it’s main attractions being the wide selection of boat trips to the Farne Islands which has become one of Europe's most important bird sanctuaries being home to more than 20 different species including Puffins and terns, it is also home to massive seal colonies.
For more information about these trips check out the links below:
From Castle Douglas there’s no direct route as such so it’s a 150 miles journey and although the roads are good it was still going to be a three hour journey. Although I don’t mind driving the distance was a good excuse to have a night away. A Sunday night in a Premier Inn tends to be reasonable and we decided to stay at the one at Cramlington which was only seven miles from Whitley Bay and an ideal starting point for our journey up the east coast the following morning. There was plenty of free parking at the hotel which had a Beefeater restaurant attached to it, there was also a McDondalds and a 24 hour Esso petrol station with a shop which was an ideal place to buy sandwiches for the following day.
Seahouses is easy to access by car and has several large car parks with the best car park right on the sea front just off the main road, as you can imagine this is the most popular car park, Seahouses was not our first stop on our journey and this car park was full when we arrived so we used the car park behind the public toilets and Tourist Information Centre instead which were also very busy, there is also additional parking on the harbour wall itself, which did not seem as busy on the day we visited.
As you would expect from a town that has to accommodate a large number of visitors there is a good selection of places to eat which includes, cafes, pub grub, Indian, a pizzeria, Chinese and of course at least two fish and chip shops, as usual we went for a chippy. There is also a selection of shops selling the usual items you would expect to find at a holiday resort.
Seahouses and the surrounding area is well worth a visit but being the only driver I would not like to make the return journey in one day, if you can, have a night away which will give you even more time to explore and enjoy yourself.