The small Highland Town of Cromarty sits at the entrance to the Cromarty Firth, at the tip of the Black Isle, north of Inverness. Described as “the jewel in the crown of Scotland’s vernacular architecture”, Cromarty is an outstanding example of a coastal Burgh of the late 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries, although the settlement, and it’s street patterns reflect its origins as an early mediaeval Scottish Royal Burgh. It’s the birthplace of Hugh Miller, whose cottage and museum can be visited, is surrounded by sea, forest, hill, farmland, and framed by the Sutors (or headlands) of Cromarty to the East, the bulk of Ben Wyvis and the Ross-shire hills to the West.
Its accessible (only a 40 minute drive from Inverness), can be mobbed on a Sunday bank holiday afternoon, yet almost deserted a few hours later.
For the keen, occasional, or holiday photographer, it provides a wealth of opportunity for a wide range of shots, whether architectural, historical, landscape, wildlife, or focussing on people, industry or human activities. Cromarty’s position in the North of Scotland means it has fabulous light in all four seasons, the climate is benign, and the town’s compact nature means that even a short stroll can bring numerous different photo opportunities.
But for me, as a photographer who has lived in Cromarty for over 30 years, it’s the opportunity to capture dramatic contrasts that make carrying a camera in this little part of the Highlands so rewarding; dolphins surfing on the bow waves of enormous cruise ship; two ladies chatting in a fishertown vennel, oblivious as an Oil Rig slides slowly past; kids leaping from the harbour while holidaymakers have a quiet pint in front of the pub; walking through a Highland wood to be confronted by military pillbox still with faint traces of WW1 camouflage; the bright windows of a shop lighting up a street of 18th Century house in dark of a Midwinter afternoon; early morning light on the intricate patterns of a water runoff on the beach; some of the worlds largest cruise liners suddenly appearing through the sutors on a misty autumn morning; the reflections fishing boats in a still winters harbour; or someone dressed as Santa diving into the freezing waters of the Firth on the 1st January.
From architectural detail, through dramatic land and seascape photos, beaches and boats, wildlife shots to images of oil rigs, cruise ships and a busy fishing harbour, Cromarty offers a wealth of opportunities for the photographer, whatever the season, or time of day.
Dramatic, weird, funny, unusual, or just simply beautiful, Cromarty has it all. So always carry a Camera.