Isle of Whithorn.
21st March 2010
Following a few days working in Edinburgh, I took a side trip on my way home into Dumfries and Galloway, a region I had never had occasion to visit before.
Mainly taking a chance to scout for new locations around the coast it was also an opportunity to relax and get a bit of fresh air after a long busy Winter.
I really didn’t know much about the area so the Isle of Whithorn, with it’s East facing shore near Burrow Head, seemed like as good a spot as any to try for a dawn shot.
I had quite forgotten that this is seen by many as a place of pilgrimage due to it’s links to St. Ninian, Scotland’s first saint.
Most pilgrims make their way to this 12th-14th Century chapel building near the shore but from the spot I had intended to shoot the sunrise I could see a strange radiance in the pale pre-dawn light that almost seemed like a ghostly halo around this holy site.
Of course, a less romantic soul would soon recognise the glow of a sodium light in the harbour as the source of this aura, but that didn’t stop it being an interesting shot across the gently rising waters.
The true light of dawn was a misty pink as the sun crept up over England on the far horizon.
As I returned to my van, over land that I had first crossed in the dark, I came upon an extraordinary sight.
In the remains of an old Lifeboat station near to the chapel is a huge cairn of stones, many of them bearing heartfelt messages, often remembering a loved one now departed.
For me, far more than the building in the background, here was a real monument to the spirit of humanity.
I do not care what faith or creed anyone professes, I think that anyone reading those simple inscriptions, hand written on pebbles and obviously carried from far and wide, could not help but be deeply moved.