A Tour Around The Scottish Borders

2 OUT OF 3 AIN'T BAD

I had 3 locations in mind. Gore Glen, Leaderfoot Viaduct and Loch Skeen. My route planned, bags packed and ready to hit the road. As I arrived in Gorebridge the skies turned grey. Not good threatening skies for photography, just grey lifeless skies. This type of sky doesn't fill you with dread and concern. It doesn't make you grab the darkest filter so every thunderous cloud is enhanced so you feel like you have just taken a photo of the worlds final hours. No, these were very much typical Scottish skies..... Grey! Not to worry, I had beautiful waterfalls to photograph and no sky was needed. What was needed though was a waterfall and I was having terrible difficulty finding one. I knew more homework was needed for this location, but it's a well-trodden path, along a river, in a glen. Surely I would find the waterfall! After over an hour and a half walking along the river where said waterfall should be, I returned to the car without a single image taken.


Stop number 2 on my planned route was Leaderfoot Viaduct also known as the Drygrange Viaduct. I have seen this place on many photo websites and have always wanted to see it for myself. It is a stunning location. Like many parts of the River Tweed, this area is well known for fishing but on this occasion, I had the place to myself and explored all potential vantage points for a composition I liked. This did involve sliding down an embankment but it was worth it!

 Leaderfoot Viaduct Canon 5D MKII | EF17-40mm f/4L USM | ISO 50 | f/8.0

Leaderfoot Viaduct Canon 5D MKII | EF17-40mm f/4L USM | ISO 50 | f/8.0

The above image consisted of two long exposure shots, blended together to get the most out of the shadows under the bridge. This created a nice softening of the water but with the disturbance under the bridge still evident.

I will definitely return to this spot in brighter weather which would help illuminate the scene and hope to have a more exciting sky to use.


Onwards to my final location of the day. A place I have attempted to access in the past but the rain had other plans for me that day and beat me into submission back to the shelter of my car. As I arrived at Grey Mare's Tail, the drizzle had moved on and the possibility of reaching Loch Skeen looked good.

On the way up, past Grey Mare's Tail, I was pleased to see a whole spillage of waterfalls (made up terminology... but I like it) which were partially frozen. Well, this made up for the unsuccessful trip to Gore Glen. The issue here was that accessibility was rather limited. Actually, accessibility was rather easy if you don't mind falling hundreds of feet down a waterfall. Care was taken to get as close to the edge as my shaky legs allowed and compose an image of one of the more impressive waterfalls.

 Waterfall below Loch Skeen 5D MKII | EF17-40mm f/4L USM | ISO 50 | f/6.3

Waterfall below Loch Skeen 5D MKII | EF17-40mm f/4L USM | ISO 50 | f/6.3

Onwards and upwards to Loch Skeen. After quite a considerably longer amount of time than I was hoping for I finally turned a corner to be welcomed by the sheer beauty of Loch Skeen. Wow, it was stunning and so still. The Loch was partially frozen and the low cloud hung in the air obscuring the hilltops giving me this sense of confined space. I was well aware that this was winter in Scotland and that means limited hours of sunlight and as I was up a hill, with nobody around and no phone signal, I thought it best to promptly find a composition. The icy loch and the low clouds made the picture taking of this scene quite challenging. There was a lot of reflection to contend with and the brightness of the clouds and the loch made the lights and darks of the image very extreme.

 A Tree Island 5D MKII | EF85mm f/1.8 USM | ISO 50 | f/11

A Tree Island 5D MKII | EF85mm f/1.8 USM | ISO 50 | f/11

A high vantage point was required to isolate the tree from the reflections of the hills in the background. Ideally I would have liked to be quite a bit higher but I was already on the highest mound on the loch's edge. This would have to do. I decided to make this quite a tight photo with minimal clutter from the surrounding elements. This way the viewers focus would land on the tree and then explore the semi submerged rocks in the photo.

 Loch Skeen 5D MKII | EF17-40mm f/4L USM | ISO 50 | Combination of 9 shots

Loch Skeen 5D MKII | EF17-40mm f/4L USM | ISO 50 | Combination of 9 shots

This final image of Loch Skeen has a lot more going on with the inclusion of the surrounding land. I noticed this rock with the striking green moss partially covering its surface to draw the viewers eyes through the scene, starting at the base of the photo and moving towards the centre where the isolated tree is perched in its island.

I need to take 9 photos to make this shot work, combining them together so the darks and lights of the scene were well balanced and that there was sharp focus throughout.

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip through the Scottish borders and with the photographs I managed to capture. Maybe one day I'll find the Waterfalls at Gore Glen...