BLOG - Mark Ainsley

Highland fling

Earlier this year, with my wife and kids in Austria, I found myself with a free weekend.

I decided to check the football fixtures for my beloved Ipswich Town, but a home game with Brentford didn't set my pulse racing, so instead I opted to book a ticket on the  Caledonian sleeper train service to Fort William as Glen Coe had always been on my wish list.

At London Euston station, I struggled with my oversized holdall containing my rucksack, wellies, sleeping bag, camera gear and tripod, and made a beeline for a member of staff.

I was really concerned about where to fit my luggage, as I knew it wouldn't fit on to the overhead racks, and consulted the guard, but she seemed disinterested as she 'only looked after coaches C to E'.

After, disposing of my gear in a bicycle car, I settled in my seat for a night of insomnia, only to be interrupted by a change of carriages at 4am, when we reached Edinburgh and the train split.

The following morning, we reached the Highlands and it was a magical experience, you really got a sense of how remote and isolated the landscape was. 

At a near deserted station that could have only been used by hikers, a couple of elderly gentlemen joined the train and sat opposite me, they were incredulous that I had been on the train all night, and one of them started to reminisce about a time in his youth when he had travelled by train in India and slept in the luggage rack. 

We finally reached Fort William and I hadn't slept a wink, the impressive Jacobite steam train sat on the next platform, but my only concern was finding my hire car.

The next couple of days were spent battling the elements, but marvelling at the breathtaking scenery, and I came away with some of my best photos to date.   

River Etive, Glencoe

Would I recommend the Caledonian Sleeper service? Absolutely, it was a great adventure that I'll look back on fondly. I also understand that the rolling stock is due to be upgraded next year.

Would I do it again? Not if you paid me!

Restless Earth

I was absolutely thrilled to be recently named as one of 12 winners of the The Geological Society of London's 'Our Restless Earth' photo competition.

Daily Mail article

Amateur photographer magazine

Guardian article

Live science website

I was invited to attend an awards ceremony in Burlington House in London, a grand building that houses many esteemed organisations including the Royal Academy of the Arts, sadly I couldn't attend due to a prior engagement, but it was nice to be recognised.

My photo 'Midges and rain' remained on display throughout October in an exhibition to mark earth science week.

Midges and rain

Midges and rain