During the summer holidays, between 3rd and 4th year, it was expected that all Edinburgh University Geology students pack up their back-packs and geo-picks and go forth to map. Using some sort of buddy-buddy system, we paired up and decided on where to go.
Some picked more exotic locations, like Turkey. Most of us, though, picked a location within the UK. Skint students are naturally pragmatic that way. Although we could choose our destinations, guidance was provided from a geological perspective. There was little point in mapping an area that was deemed “too simple”. It doesn’t help the grades and this was, after all, our final year thesis in the making.
My mapping partner and I plumped for an area on the Isle of Skye, south-west of Broadford between Loch Eishort and Loch Slapin. We found accommodation in the form of a little stone building, on the water’s edge, in Lower Breakish. It was very simple – 2 rooms with bunk-beds in, which we shared with a couple of other geologists from a different university. Skye is a very popular area for mapping projects, it would seem.. We found at least 20 other geos lurking in the hills during our stay there!
Most of my photos are, therefore, based around this area, although we did take a day off from mapping to scoot around the rest of the island. I won’t lie, we took more than one day off from mapping, mostly due to the weather. The only problem being that there was little other scenery to see when the rain was “tipping down”. So we stayed put in our rented bunks and read an awful lot of Terry Pratchett novels that happened to be on the shelves.
I did take one other book with me. It was written by Sir Archibald Giekie (aka Geekie), an eminent geologist in the second half of the 19th Century. I can’t remember the exact title of the book I borrowed, it could have been “The Scenery of Scotland” (1887), but more probably “An Elementary Geography of the British Isles” (1888). His descriptive language beautifully evokes images of the past, not least the haunting tales of how the people living on Skye were forced to abandon homes, meagre possessions in tow, due to the either the potato famine or the dreadful “Highland Clearances”.
There were days where the weather was so still, that wisps of mist would trail past you as you worked. If you stopped hammering the rocks for a moment, you could almost fancy hearing whispers from the past. Eerie.. I like that about Scotland. You can feel the history.
Isle of Skye, Scotland – June to July, 1994
Info: Pentax P30T. Negatives scanned in with CanoScan 8800F – cleaned up in Photoshop v5