Journey to Cill Fhinn

Scottish Central Highlands, 2014


Killin (Gaelic Cill Fhinn [White Church]) is a small village on the banks of the River Dochart near the head of Loch Tay with firm roots in the turbulent history of the Scottish Highlands. It is believed that a nearby hill locally known as Cnoc-nan-aingeal (Hill of the Angels) was the site of an ancient Celtic church and the roots of the first settlement in the area. And for over 800 years this was also the traditional stronghold of the Clan MacNab, a tough and hardy clan of warriors whose castle stood at Eillan Ran, an island at the mouth of the River Lochay. Even today, their ties with this land remain within the hallowed grounds of the island of Inchbuie (Gaelic Innis Bhuidhe, [Yellow Island]), the ancient burial ground of the clan chiefs. The island lies just below the Dochart Falls, surrounded by the turbulent waters of the river and accessed through a small gate from the bridge that crosses the river at this point.

As I walk amongst the towering, arching and silent trees of Inchbuie, the outside world drops away and is replaced by a stillness that draws me deeper into the island along a narrow, moss covered path. It is quiet. The air is still. Only the monotonous sound of the relentless rain and the distant murmur of the river break this silence. My walk along this path becomes a journey, dreamlike, restless - a journey back into history and time, surrounded by myriads of colours and shades of light. Finally, at the eastern end of the island a walled enclosure emerges, marking the ancient burial ground of the former chiefs, it’s rugged walls topped with two 18th century stone heads which speak of the triumph over old rival clans.

I was enthralled by the stillness and tranquility of Inchbuie, the subdued hues, soft colours and the ethereal light that seemed to surround everything. Equally fascinating was the wilderness and beauty of the Highlands, steeped in history and lore and I hope that the photographs convey these feelings.