The ter­rain takes its toll on Quintin Lake as he con­tin­ues his coastal photo walk

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The ter­rain takes its toll on Quintin Lake as he con­tin­ues his coastal photo walk

Be­yond Cri­nan, the wild land­scape to­wards Ard­fern is more like moun­taineer­ing than coast-walk­ing, with views over to Jura and Scarpa. The only paths to fol­low are made by deer. In the mid­dle of a forestry plan­ta­tion, I’m de­lighted to find the mys­te­ri­ous 4,000-year-old Or­maig rock carv­ings over­look­ing Loch Craig­nish. The site has just been strimmed, ob­scur­ing the carv­ings un­der loose grass.

As it’s get­ting dark and I want a photo, I make a brush from bracken to hur­riedly clear the grass from the rock and re­veal the carv­ings, like some form of an­cient de­vo­tion. Dozens of carved

cups and rings, some the size of a din­ner plate, adorn the rocky in­cline.

It’s now dark, and I have to clam­ber over giant mossy stumps cov­er­ing the steep ground – hop­ing, un­suc­cess­fully, for an eas­ier route to fol­low to­wards the road. I fol­low a soli­tary power line through the plan­ta­tion, as there is less veg­e­ta­tion below it; to my alarm, my head­torch picks out great swags of ca­ble droop­ing down to the ground in front of me, in­ter­twined with a messy nest of up­ended tree roots. The post has been smashed by storm-felled trees. I’m forced to crawl through the for­est below the height of the branches. In time I come to the edge of the for­est – where a tall wall stands be­tween me and a road. At the end of my en­durance, I trace the wall look­ing for a way over un­til, to my dis­be­lief, the torch picks out an alu­minium lad­der, which I use to climb to the top be­fore haul­ing it up and drop­ping down the other side to de­scend.

The next day, I emerge from my sleep­ing bag to wring yes­ter­day’s wet socks out and put them on be­fore set­ting off. Bogs, wob­bly tufts of grass, chest-high bracken and steeply un­du­lat­ing ter­rain are tak­ing a toll: I have a cou­ple of bad falls at the end of an es­pe­cially long day. I start to de­velop a mod­er­ate pain in my left shin; “ex­hausted” and “hope not shin splints” are all I man­age to write in my jour­nal.

Three days later, Oban is get­ting close, but the shin pain is get­ting worse – es­pe­cially on des­cents. I de­cide to cut the day short and camp by the Ard­maddy Wish­ing tree, hop­ing a good night’s sleep will sort me out. It doesn’t – so, with a heavy heart,

I call a taxi from Oban so I can get some med­i­cal at­ten­tion. The sub­se­quent MRI scan shows I have a stress frac­ture, ne­ces­si­tat­ing nine weeks’ rest and re­cov­ery.

A break in a down­pour is one of my favourite times for pho­tog­ra­phy: a dark sky can con­trast beau­ti­fully with a sat­u­rated fore­ground. This mo­ment was cap­tured af­ter cross­ing a bridge from the Cri­nan Canal into Moine Mhor (The Great Moss) while I was still drip­ping wet from the pass­ing rain. Pro­cess­ing was lim­ited to a Grad­u­ated Fil­ter to darken the top half of the im­age, and a sub­tle Sat­u­ra­tion boost.

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