Friday, 15 September 2017

STEALING SECOND - GO WILDCATS!

Baseball has been Americas pastime for well over 100 years, since 1845. You've probably heard of all the variants, from Little League and College, to the professional Minor and Major Leagues. I've only ever been to one baseball game, and that was the Dodgers, over in Los Angeles. I sat for what seemed hours, then decided to leave about 20 minutes before the end, mostly bored to be honest. The friend I was with stayed on and she said it all kicked off just after I left, and it was very exciting! Typical!

There are many different "plays" within a game, and to be honest I was a bit lost. One is an action where a player can steal a base. Here's the explanation of that, as written on the Boston Redsocks website:

In baseball, a runner is charged, and the fielders involved are credited, with a time caught stealing when the runner attempts to advance or lead off from one base to another without the ball being batted and then is tagged out by a fielder while making the attempt. A time caught stealing cannot be charged to a batter-runner, a runner who is still advancing as the direct result of reaching base. 

Do you understand?

No, me neither.

Despite that severe lack of knowledge of the game, this week, here in Scotland, I have been assisting on a short film with a baseball theme called Stealing Second, by two friends, Dave Barras and Scott Mackay.
I asked the two writer directors what the film was about:

Well, it’s about lots of things, but the main character is
a small time crook and thug called Eli Marshall,
who doesn’t really want to be a small time crook at all.
By a quirk of fate he becomes trapped in a baseball trial
with the Wildcats, as the police are searching for him.
I know, I know, weird. It works though.

So over 3 days, with the ever reliable, vastly changeable Scottish weather, a hardy bunch of filmmakers gathered at several locations in Edinburgh and Livingston, and brought this short to life.

My main responsibility was to achieve several shots using a drone, but as is the way in all independent filmmaking, I "pitched" in (see what I did there?) to help in all manner of roles. At times that was as a runner or production assistant, or a driver, and at one point, second unit camera.


Thankfully for the drone it was dry and bright, if not a little windy, but we captured the shots needed. Despite Hurricane Irma delivering the dregs of her storm on occasion, the team pulled it off, amidst having a lot of fun. The buzz on set was exciting and many new friendships were kindled.

Now the film is in post production, destined for film festivals, and serves as a proof of concept for a feature-film version. If you see this playing in a  festival near you make sure you go and support the team.

Go Wildcats!

Oh, and you don't need to know a thing about baseball.



Friday, 8 September 2017

MIDGE-FREE ADVENTURE

The thing that keeps me sane is making sure I get away into the hills, on foot or on bicycle, as often as possible.

But summer in the Highlands of Scotland is not always conducive to this. Part and parcel of being away, and my favourite part of the whole experience, is camping out in my wee tent, but at this time of year the midges are still around, and are guaranteed to swarm around you, just as you settle down with an evening cuppa, forcing you into your home-from-home, looking out through the fine mesh of the tent inner.

So an alternative destination is needed. Something more east of the country.

This year has seen many a trip with Pauline to the midge-free Borders region, and a rare three-day opportunity came up last weekend to get away again to this beautiful part of Scotland.

Just ten minutes from the front door is a local railway station, where we can board the newly completed Borders Railway service to Tweedbank, just outside Melrose. The last time we were here was with our friend Andrew, to trek the nearby Eildon Hills, through thick, sticky, terracotta mud. It was great fun, rounding off with a visit to the Roman site of Trimontium.

Now on our loaded bikes, our plan was to circle back to Edinburgh via Berwick-upon-Tweed on the east coast, and visit a friend on the way in Coldingham.

We were lucky with a glorious sunny day, and hardly any wind, as we passed out of Melrose and headed east, toward Kelso. The narrow back roads, at times lined by high hedges, were an absolute joy to whiz along, and were also devoid of traffic as an added bonus.

Though sunny, there was a definite early morning coolness in the air, indicating the approach of Autumn. The harvest has been in full swing for a number of weeks, and many fields now sported short, blond stalks, after their recent close-cropped haircuts. House Martins, and a few Swallows, still darted about, readying themselves for their imminent departure to Africa.


By mid afternoon we were in warm sunshine, pulling in to the Border town of Kelso. We had both visited here on bikes before, but the route beyond the town, toward Berwick, was one neither of us had pedaled. 

But before this, tradition called, and we settled down at the outside tables of a little coffee shop called Off The Square, for coffee and cake.

Continuing east, we crossed the River Tweed 22km further on, and in doing so crossed over into England.


A little further on, through the village of Norham, brought us to the end of day one, at a campsite next to a local pub called The Salutation Arms. This was no 5-star campsite by any means, but the adjoining bar more than made up for it. Foregoing the usual routine of cooking our dinner at the tents, we opted for a great meal in the bar restaurant.


The following morning, with a light wind at our backs, we set off in a north westerly direction, crossing back into Scotland over an old chain link bridge after just 5km.


We had arranged to meet up with our friends Bill and Agnes in Coldingham around lunch time, and so we bypassed Berwick-upon-Tweed in favour of heading to the coastal fishing town of Eyemouth, taking a short cut through the castle grounds at Ayton halfway there.

On occasion while cycle touring I have the need for a second breakfast, and this was just such a day, and so, in a small cafe called Mackays on the seafront, I tucked into not one, but two bacon rolls, and a mug of tea.

In 1881, on the 14th October, a severe storm hit the east coast of Scotland, and a fishing disaster of biblical proportions decimated the fishing fleet of Eyemouth, and neighbouring villages, in an event that has become known locally as Black Friday. 129 men were lost, some not far from the safety of the harbour, in sight of their loved ones, and a bronze six-inch figure sculpture, depicting the distraught wives and children, has been erected on the seafront to commemorate those lost.


The wind now shifted in our favour, to push us along toward Coldingham, to meet up with our friends, who had moved from our home street in Edinburgh to Coldingham some seven years ago. We were both very impressed, and a little envious, of their efforts in their large garden.


We were unsure where we would camp this evening, but we knew we wanted a wild camp spot. After a long climb out of Coldingham we scooted downhill, with views in the distance to Torness, the east coast nuclear power station. Just past the turn off for Cove, the long distance footpath, the Southern Upland Way, headed off to our left. We decided to explore. Pauline can always be relied upon to find a good camp spot, and this time was no exception. Nestled in the woods, someone had cleared a large circular area, complete with little wooden benches around the edge, and there was space enough for both our tents, with room to spare. I imagined that in times past this was a regular meeting spot for youngsters to share stories and just hang out, probably now all grown up and left the area.


In the morning we retraced our route back about a mile to the quaint little harbour of Cove. The old dirt track descends steeply toward the harbour, but just before you turn the last corner we came upon a dark tunnel, cut out of the hillside, created around 1752. We navigated through the inky blackness to emerge out of the other side, above the harbour itself. Even though the sun wasn't shining, it was very picturesque, and such a wonderful find. It was bought by Benjamin Tindall to save it from development, and is now managed for conservation.


At one time this tiny little harbour, with its tricky access, was one of the most important herring ports on the east coast of Scotland, and now serves as a backdrop for many a fashion shoot and films. Recently scenes were shot here for the Hollywood big budget film, The Avengers. I could see why it is so attractive to filmmakers.


We were keeping a close eye on the weather now, as we headed north toward Dunbar and North Berwick, where we would turn west for home. The forecast was for heavy rain in the afternoon, and neither of us relished the idea of finishing such a great trip soaking wet. There was only one solution: coffee and cake while we deliberated.

If you are ever in this area and in need of coffee and cake in a lovely setting, in a pretty village, then the old Smithy at Tyninghame is the place.


Satisfied, and with dark clouds gathering, we cycled the six miles to North Berwick and took the dry option of the train back to Edinburgh.

Fab trip, and not a single midge in sight.



Friday, 1 September 2017

UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLE

During the course of making the Ballachulish ferry documentary, I have been able to create a bit of a wow factor to the images by using a drone, or to give it the correct title, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.

This is truly astonishing technology. I remember as a youngster getting control of such a machine, or rather, non-control. They were truly impossible to master. But now. Well, they have evolved to literally fly themselves. You still need a good sense of coordination, and be able to watch the actual aircraft in the sky as well as keep an eye on the images streaming back to your device.

I first got my hands on one of these new fangled devices  three years ago, in the shape of a Phantom, manufactured by DJI.


It belonged to a local production company I used to work freelance for. They had never really used it, and so I had what you might call, a permanent loan of it. This was the machine that I have been using for the past couple of months to create aerial images for the film.

That was, until two weeks ago.

It had always been a twitchy aircraft, and regularly did very strange things. Then one day it malfunctioned in the air, and instead of calmly returning to its take off point, decided to fly directly toward me, at full throttle, smashing into an oak tree behind me.

End of drone!

But the images were irresistible from a filmmakers point of view. And technology had taken enormous leaps forward since the release of the Phantom.

So two days ago, I took delivery of the new Mavic Pro, and already I am blown away with its capabilities.


One of the most annoying things about the Phantom was every time I filmed toward the horizon, or even the side of a bridge, the image was curved across the screen left to right. But now they have solved that.

But the most astonishing development is the portability. The Phantom had to be carried in a large, rectangular backpack, whereas the Mavic, which when folded up fits in your open hand, packs into a case a fifth of the size. And longer flight times also mean more flexibility.


But it is still terrifying to fly. I'm sure the more you use them the more that feeling goes away. But for now, especially over water, it creates high anxiety.

I've only just started the learning curve, but already I am impressed at the ease of using this amazing aerial camera. It brings so many of todays common place technologies together, creating astonishing creative possibilities.

Unfortunately there are always idiots out there that get their hands on these things, break the law, and spoil it for everyone. I'm in favour of tighter regulations, and once I have mastered the basics, I will be enrolling in a ground school to gain my UAV pilots licence from the CAA. I think this should become compulsory. Well, you can't get a licence to drive a car without going to driving school and passing a safety test, can you?

Meanwhile I am looking forward, albeit nervously, to the new and higher quality images I will capture for the film. And more safely than ever before. Thanks to its forward obstacle avoidance system it will stop dead in its tracks three feet from any obstacle in its path, or, and this is super impressive, automatically fly a route around it!

So no more arguments with oak trees!


Friday, 25 August 2017

AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL

In 2006 Al Gore released a documentary entitled An Inconvenient Truth, in an attempt to shock the world into doing something about Climate Change. I recall going to my local cinema during the Edinburgh International Film Festival to watch it, where it was introduced by the man himself. At the time it was not long after the farce of the US election, and he introduced himself thus; "Hi, my name's Al Gore, I used to be the next President of the United States".

A more forthright and genuine person I have never listened to, and this came across in the film. The now famous "hockey-stick" graph of the rise in CO2 in the atmosphere in the last 100 years, shocked everyone in their seats.

But globally all that seemed to happen was yet more talking and very little was achieved, most especially by our politicians that are meant to be serving us.

Last week a sequel was released in theatres, An Incovenient Sequel, and it was no less shocking. Production values were higher, utilising modern film techniques and equipment, which enabled the film makers to show the beauty of the glaciers of Antarctica and Greenland. But behind the beauty lay an ominous message of disaster. Footage obtained by pilots from a helicopter flying over Greenland's ice sheet then shocked to the core. Recently, on the hottest day ever recorded, an enormous area of the Greenland ice sheet was literally exploding before their eyes, collapsing in great swathes. If you had just entered the cinema at this point you could be forgiven for thinking that you were watching a CGi special effect. But this was a disaster movie was real and far more disturbing.


In the 2006 An Inconvenient Truth, one particular scene came under heavy criticism for exaggeration and sensationalism. A computer graphics simulation showed an aerial view of Manhatten Island with sea water flooding the streets and pouring into the construction site of the world trade centre. People were outraged, saying it was pulling on raw emotional nerves, and was a poor sensationalist publicity stunt.

Just six years later, on 22 October 2012 during hurricane Sandy, exactly that happened.


As the new film says, yes we still have normal days, yes we still have cold days, but the number of above average hot days has now increased in number beyond those two put together in many critical parts of the world!  Hotter temperatures globally mean more evaporation from the oceans, which means more rainfall and more violent storms driven by the warmer oceans. It also means more moisture dragged out of the ground, increasing drought and thus lowering food production, and so on and so on.

Though the film was hard hitting, the biggest shock for me was not from the screen, but from the cinema itself. In 2006 there was not a seat to be had. Today there were only four people in the cinema! The movie was released by Paramount Pictures and they had spent virtually nothing on publicity resulting in very poor box office results, fueling climate change sceptics opinions.

In late November 2015 in Paris, just two weeks after the terrorist attacks, a major climate change summit was held, to try a broker a unanimous global deal to do something. There was a major obstacle in the way toward the end: India was proposing opening 400 new, coal-fired power stations. Their argument was simple; the West had enjoyed an abundance of energy production for the last 150 years and been solely responsible for the current damage. But India needs to give it's 1.25billion population access to energy, and they felt it grossly unfair that the west should hold them back because of their mistakes. You could understand where they were coming from, but if they went ahead it would cancel out all the effort to reduce emissions over the past few decades. This was critical at so many levels.

Solar energy was a big player during the talks, and seems a no-brainer, especially when you consider that more solar energy falls on the surface of the earth in just one hour than the entire globe uses in a whole year!

There is a company in California called SolarCity, which is at the forefront globally of solar technology.

In just 24 hours Al Gore brokered a deal with them and the Indian government, including negotiating better interest rates with the World Bank for India, to enable them to buy-in to solar, and so reduce the number of coal-fired power stations proposed by half.

It was a tempting offer.

Right at this point the Indian Prime Minister was called away home. Why? Major floods had devastated parts of his country.

This event, together with Al Gore's tireless negotiating, and possibly high emotions with the recent terrorist attacks, ratified the Paris agreement globally.


Then came Trump of course, with his brainless attitudes, and pulled the US out. But as Al Gore points out, there will always be obstacles that need fighting.

Which made me think that, sadly, the majority of people in my generation are set in their ways, and reluctant to make change, having worked hard for their consumerist lifestyle, and feel a sense of entitlement to carry on as usual. So for me it is the young people of today that are the planets greatest hope. The majority are passionate about this subject, for it is their future we're screwing up.

How ashamed will we be when they turn round in the not too distant future and say, "what were you thinking!"





Friday, 18 August 2017

THE LOST FERRIES OF BALLACHULISH - PART 2

Following on from the first filming trip for The Lost Ferries of Ballachulish, I once again set off north, this time with a specific goal in mind.

Along the way I filled in some of the blanks that have arisen whilst editing the original footage, including recording a piece-to-camera to introduce the film, on the South Ballachulish slipway of the old ferry. Fourteen takes later and I think I got it, but knowing this game as well as I do, I'll probably end up shooting a different beginning at some point.

The Folk Museum in Glencoe Village had been in touch to say they had a couple of items that might be of interest to capture, one being old ferry tickets and the other a waiting sign, now badly in need of preservation. These were placed at various intervals along the roadside and gave drivers an estimate of how long it would be to get across from that point. If you were at this one, saying 50 minutes, you would be just as quick driving round the loch via Kinlochleven. But where's the fun in that?

I continued north, stopping in again at the supposed remains of the Glen Duror, this time armed with original dimensions and a measuring tape. With some difficulty I was able to compare the dimensions I had, with those of the wreck, and unfortunately the wreck is four feet longer than the Duror. This casts further doubt on her identity.

The following day I was once again in Glenelg, at the Glenachulish, last survivor of Scotland's turntable ferries. I decided to approach the ferry this time from Skye, first taking the elegant bridge across at Kyle of Lochalsh.


As I crossed over to Glenelg using the Glenachulish, I could see a crowd was gathering for a celebration. This was the main purpose of my journey, for this was the day that the bell from 1969 was to be reunited with the ferry.

A few weeks ago I had interviewed Kate, daughter of the last ferryman at Ballachulish, Peter Mackenzie, and she had made the journey to witness the celebration. In her hand she was holding a photograph of the wheelhouse, as it was back in her fathers day, but the bell was not visible.


It was then that a puzzle I've had in my mind for decades was finally solved.

In the early 70s, when my father was head gardener at Commander Clark's house, the person overall in charge of The Ballachulish Ferry Company, I recall whilst playing on his lawns that there was a ships bell. My memory had told me that this was a bell most probably from some naval ship, given he was called Commander. But through further chat up at Glenelg as to where the bell had been all this time, it transpired that the bell on the lawn from my childhood was from the Glenachulish, and here it was now, in my hands.

There was a nice size crowd gathered for the hanging of the bell, enjoying good chat and a barbecue to raise funds. As I went to pay for my burger, a kindly lady took my £5 and then asked, how much change would I like? Clever. Naturally, I said none. Then, around two o'clock, a piper played as we all made our way down onto the ferry. Finally, after more than 40 years, the Glenachulish had her bell.


Back down the road I met up with Fergus Mclean, last person to have seen the Glen Loy almost 40 years ago, for a quick interview. He gave me a further lead to Strontian on Loch Struan, but this has also turned up a dead end.

The final part of this journey may be some time in coming, as I continue my hunt for the fate of the Glen Loy, and probably the Glen Duror as well. Shortly I will journey to Liverpool to the archives of GL Watson, and document the plan drawings of the last seven Ballachulish Ferries.


Sunday, 13 August 2017

MYTHOLOGICAL WATER HORSES

On a glorious Tuesday morning, Pauline and I set off along the Union Canal from Edinburgh, to join the Forth and Clyde Canal at Falkirk, bound for the worlds largest horse head sculptures, The Kelpies.

From my front door it's around 38 miles, and though it is largely flat all the way that does mean a lot of pedaling. But it is hugely enjoyable.


The Union Canal opened in 1822, but by the 1930's it had fallen into disuse, and thirty years later it was an overgrown unsightly affair, with large sections filled in and lost. A Millenium project was launched at a cost of £82million, and in 2001 it reopened. It had been 70 years since the Union Canal linked up with the Forth & Clyde Canal, but the difference in height over a very short distance where they now met, created a challenge. A further £17million saw what has to be one of the most striking boat lifts in the world built, The Falkirk Wheel, and finally the link was opened in 2002.


The Union Canal is 30 miles long and navigates just a single series of locks along its entire length in order to connect to the Forth & Clyde. As is our desire on a cycle trip, there are plenty of places along the way to stop and have a coffee, and of course, the requisite cake. We were in no hurry, and stopped numerous times to look at various interesting things, one of which is a redevelopment at Ratho. Here houses, small in size but starting at £250K, have been built around their own marina, and in the warm sunshine it looked an idyllic place to live.

Just before the Falkirk Wheel you have to navigate through the Falkirk Tunnel. At just under a kilometre in length it can be a slightly unnerving experience, as the previous times we have been through it has been in complete darkness. Thankfully this time it was brightly lit, which gave us a new experience, as we were able to see the jagged rock ceiling in sections, that had been carved out almost 200 years ago, and limestone formations now oozed down the walls.


It was early afternoon as we swung by the Falkirk Wheel and its hordes of tourists, past miniature models of the Kelpies, and headed north east on the six miles of the Forth & Clyde Canal toward the Kelpies.

There are 14 locks on this section, which are mostly very close together, to take you down 115feet to the River Carron. I imagine it must be quite a chore and slow going making your way by boat along this section of the canal, which, built in 1790, connects the River Forth to the Clyde.


But we were whizzing along on our bikes now, covering the last few miles in very little time. All of a sudden the Kelpies came into view.


Even from a distance they are an astonishing site. The closer you get the more emotion they evoke, and lit in bright sunshine, but framed by distance dark clouds, they looked incredible.


Immediately I thought, that for me, they are the most beautiful man-made structure I have ever seen.

Designed by Glaswegian artist Andy Scott, and opened in 2014 at a cost of £5million, they stand at 30 metres tall. The two horses heads are called Duke and Baron, named after the Clydesdale horses that the artist chose as the life models for the sculptures. Sadly Baron passed away in January this year (pictured here on the right with the artist, and below in sculpture).


The word Kelpie is an old word meaning Scottish mythological water horse, which is entirely appropriate, given they mark the end of the Forth & Clyde Canal.

I stood for a while directly underneath Duke, the Kelpie that has its head bowed down, and it was a very moving experience. It was impossible to take a bad photograph.


I entered the gift shop in the hope of finding a model of the Kelpies, and as a special order they could indeed sell me such, but at £5,000 I declined, feigning having forgot my wallet.

Anyway, nothing compares to the real thing.




Friday, 4 August 2017

THAT RINGS A BELL

It's hard to follow the blog from last week, which has attracted almost 2,000 readers to date, other than to thank everyone for reading, and to say there will be a proper follow up in the near future, but for now here is how things have progressed in the past seven days.

It's been a week of further investigation, with a number of dead ends, but on the plus side there have been some new discoveries.

The focus at the moment is to find the final fate of the Glen Loy, which was last seen on the beach at Camusnagaul on Loch Eil, 40 years ago. The original lead had been that she had been taken to the River Clyde. I plotted her possible route, and I was skeptical, mainly because, as a low lying barge-type vessel at that point, it is quite a journey from Fort William, mostly on sea lochs, to the River Clyde. She would have been towed, and her most likely route would have taken the Crinnan Canal. But barge and towing vessel combined give me doubt she would have fitted through the series of locks.

Then another lead came in during the week, that she might have been the barge seen around 25 years ago at Port Appin, just down the coast from Ballachulish. This seemed far more feasible, but sadly, turned out to be a dead end.

On the upside, the designers of the past seven turntable ferries to serve at Ballachuish, GL Watson in Liverpool, were back in contact to say they had found the original design drawings in their dusty archive, and though they were too brittle to scan, could be photographed. These drawings will help confirm the identity of the wreck at Gairlochy, supposedly the Glen Duror, and at present I am trying to arrange to visit the company.

I am to return north to Glenelg near Skye next week, as the final part of the Glenachulish Ferry restoration to her original spec is to take place, when her bell is to be hung once again in the wheelhouse.
For now the quest continues for the Glen Loy.


Friday, 28 July 2017

THE LOST FERRIES OF BALLACHULISH - PART 1

In 1972, when I was just a wee boy, I lived at Ballachulish, just north of Glencoe. We didn't live there for long, but it has a special place in my heart for one simple reason; the Ballachulish ferries.


For some small boys it's tractors. For me it was these fascinating boats. The man overall in charge of the Ballachulish Ferry Company was Commander Clark, and my stepfather, and brother Geoff, worked as his gardener, a fact that would have quite an impact a few days ago. We lived in a tied house, Riverside Cottage, which I made a point of visiting on my trip this week.

Between the ages of 1 and 15 my step father moved prolifically. Why I'll never know. Because of this there has been an idea in my mind for some time to retrace some of these places and document that early life, but for one reason or another I never got round to it. Then last year I read about a turntable ferry at Glenelg, up near Skye, being completely overhauled, and this started a ball rolling. Not the story on my early life of the first 15 years, but on what happened to the Ballachulish turntable ferries of yesteryear.

At the head of Loch Leven the gap between the south and north landfall is a mere 200m, and until 1975 this was served by two turntable ferries, ploughing back and forth conveying up to six cars at a time. There has been a ferry at this point for hundreds of years, but the turntable ferry is unique to Scotland, and its design was thought up by a Scotsman to solve a particular issue; how to have a ferry operate constantly with falling and rising tides. There were three boats at Ballachulish altogether, with one of them held in reserve, though at peak times all three would run. It was quite a sight. I would spend my summer holidays from primary school down at the ferries, and got to know the ferrymen really well. There was one in particular who I remember as the most friendly, and his name was Peter MacKenzie, recognisable at a distance in his peaked black cap.

I filmed various interviews this week, one with the last surviving ferryman, Ewen Maclean, and one with Kate Ward, daughter of Peter. The latter was a very emotional one. She recalls her father Peter talking fondly of "the gardener's boy" spending his days at the ferry.

That boy was me.

As you can imagine, this was quite a moment for me when Kate told me this.


On a few occasions in the early 70s, I would be allowed to wander up the line of waiting cars and collect the fares, and in return would then ride back and forth across the narrows on the ferry, though I suspect I could have done that without working for it. Then in an evening I would go with the last ferry to anchor it safely in a nearby bay, coming back in the rowing boat, then run home having had the best day.

They were special times.

I left there around 1974, just as the foundations to a new bridge that would displace the ferries started. After a few teething troubles the bridge opened two days before Christmas in 1975 and the ferries left Ballachulish forever. One, the Glen Duror, ended up working on the Caledonian Canal for a local businessman, from what I can gather transporting materials for canal repairs. In 1978 she was taken off the maritime register and ceased to be used. A second ferry, The Glen Loy, was bought by Fort William Dive School, and used as a platform for their school. She too was taken off the register in 1980.

But the third boat, the Glenachulish, survived as a turntable ferry, the main reason being she was made of steel, whereas the Glen Loy and the Glen Duror were both made entirely of wood. She now serves as The Glenelg ferry in the short crossing to Kylerhea on Skye. I came across her about ten years ago whilst on a tour of Scotland on my motorbike. I knew there was a ferry there, but I didn't know it was the Glenachulish. That was quite a powerful emotional moment when I first saw her again.


But what had happened to the other two? This would become the focus of my film, which I have spent the last five days making inroads on.

Having spent an entire day in glorious sunshine filming the Glenachulish, my brother and I went in search of the wrecks of the other two, with only a single old photograph and tips on where to find them to go on, and some help from Robert Beale, co-author of the book, Scotland's Turntable Ferries.

The Duror turned out to be remarkably easy to find, and she lies on the shore at Gairlochy, just off the path of the Great Glen Way. She is a shadow of her former self, and it was sad to see an old friend in such a state. To be honest a small doubt is still in my head that it is her. To confirm one way or the other I want to get a hold of the original plans, and GL Watson in Liverpool, the designers, are trying to locate these very plans. She was built by James Noble of Fraserburgh in the early 60s, so I'm also pursuing that avenue. On the shoreline, just meters away from her hulk, a piece of her had broken off and washed ashore. That piece is now with me back in Edinburgh.


The Glen Loy however, is proving to be an altogether more complicated hunt.

Around the late 70s a severe storm broke her free of her moorings at Fort William, and she floated away, eventually crashing into the shoreline some distance away. A local man, Fergus Maclean, living at Camusnagaul, directly opposite Fort William, salvaged her and towed her back to the beach there. The engine was removed and sold. Her hull then lay on the beach for some time, when I assume the photograph I have of her was taken. When I arrived at that same location last Tuesday she was gone. After some fortuitous connections, mostly thanks to Google searches, I talked on the phone with Fergus, and he told me she had been taken away to the River Clyde.

The search continues.