In the northern reaches of Britain, there is a land whose depth and drama have always inspired the contemplatives among us. In a new series of photographs titled “Turning Point,” Richard Gaston traces a journey over 240 miles of Scotland from Fort William to Cape Wrath.
“The route ventures through some of Scotland’s wildest regions, encountering the country’s grandest mountains, loneliest glens, highest waterfalls, and remotest beaches,” Gaston notes. “It is regarded as one of the UK’s most challenging long-distance routes—few people complete this annually—and offers minimal facilities, making the use of bothies and wild camping for accommodation a necessity.”
Fog always plays a role there, whether total or on the periphery, tinting the light and obscuring the path ahead.
The steepness of Scotland’s terrain on the border between life and death, where the grasses and the rocks weave together, presents a journey as difficult as it is rewarding.
The silence of this landscape is emphasized by the occasional bothy (Scottish cottage) that materializes through the fog. A loneliness and peace hangs over these structures—indicators of the centuries of stillness and imperceptible growth. And always, water. Mountain-lined rivers flow out to the constant sea, while the sun flows between the cracks in the weather. The water lows through bogs between high-standing grasses. It reflects the sun into your eyes and holds the light in itself as it sparkles over rocks and rapids.
The impression of the water flowing through the land gives the viewer the impression of time moving over these landscapes, frozen, here for a moment on film. As if taking a breath, the sky stops and the spaces turn towards the camera.
Despite the vastness and lack of bustle, the distances here are full. Hope and adventure lie in each frame, and what once was a dark valley reveals within itself a bothy bathed in light. It is an emotional landscape that presents a vision of our own turmoil, but also the effects of light, of walking in the world and observing.
Landscapes like this, presented through the emotional vernacular of photography, have always been important—now more than ever.