AS I write this it is exactly a year to the day since I published my first photographs in this series, and realised for the first time quite what I had let myself in for.
Originally I planned to publish just one photograph a week, but foolishly in my first week I used three images and felt I had to continue in the same vein. A lot of work, a lot of travelling, a very large and growing pile of petrol receipts, but far far more importantly, a huge amount of enjoyment and wonderment at the beautiful country I live in.
Now that my latest sat nav has bitten the dust I am back to looking at maps to work out where I am headed. I have had a busy week with jobs spread all over so there has been a lot of travelling and a lot of trying to work out exactly how to get to where I needed to be. Instead of travelling by the main roads I decided to take as many minor roads as I could to get to these jobs. Those thin, monochrome lines on the map that twist and curve over the paper, and that have always drawn me in when I look at a map.
Minor roads are perfect for photography as they afford the greatest of luxuries – the ability to stop the car and jump out to grab a quick image, something frustratingly difficult, or completely impossible on faster trunk roads. I have seen so many wonderful photo opportunities speed by and disappear in the rear-view mirror because of a lack of a conveniently placed layby. I struggle to believe that the road builders of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries really built these roads with no thought for the needs of my 21st century photography project – the fiends!
The first image this week was taken precisely because of a perfectly placed layby. As I drove west along the A86 to Spean Bridge I spotted some quad bikers on a long spit of sand in Loch Laggan and luckily managed to stop just in time before they headed off the sand and out of sight.
Images two and three and were taken on the B847, a lovely minor road that rises northwards out of Tummel Bridge and skirts lazily around an enormous forest (accurately though unimaginatively called ‘Big Wood’) before heading to Blair Atholl and beyond. The first of these images is from a disused petrol station in Calvine, where once the main A9 route passed through before being bypassed and presumably sounding the death knell for the garage. The other image is a roadside sale from a closing-down coffee shop in the beautifully named village of Trinafour.
Finally, an image taken in Ossian’s Hall at The Hermitage near Dunkeld as two tourists look out over the Black Linn waterfall. We were dragged to The Hermitage often as kids and I have to confess I hated it – a woodland walk may have been wonderful for my parents but I had Subbuteo to play with and this was an unwelcome and tortuous distraction.
If you can, and if you have the time, leave the main road behind. Look around, travel slowly and stop often. You will be not be disappointed.
• Alan McCredie began the ‘100 weeks of Scotland’ website in October last year, and it will conclude in Autumn 2014. McCredie’s goal is to chronicle two years of Scottish life in the run-up to the independence referendum.
McCredie says ‘one hundred weeks...’ is intended to show all sides of the country over the next two years. On the site, he says: “Whatever the result of the vote Scotland will be a different country afterward. These images will show a snapshot of the country in the run up to the referendum.
“The photos will be of all aspects of Scottish culture - politics, art, social issues, sport and anything else that catches the eye.”
All pictures (c) Alan McCredie/ 100 weeks of Scotland