Gruinard River, Wester Ross, Scotland

Looking at my blog postings here on this site I realised I was getting very close to publishing 1000 blog postings!! So I thought for my 1,000th post I should do something special and something close to my heart

Going back through my photographic portfolio I realised that a rather special location in my home country of Scotland had never been published before. So this is the ideal opportunity to tell this story and publish some heartfelt images from my beautiful home country.

It all started with a painting …………

This oil painting sits on the main living room wall above the fireplace in my parent’s house in Scotland. The painting had been bought by my parents from a local artist during a holiday to Wester Ross in Scotland many years ago. This area had been very dear to them both and as a family, we spent many years in this region during the annual summer holidays. We frequently used to rent an old cottage overlooking Gruinard Bay in a small village called Laide. The painting depicted the Gruinard River looking into the mountains including the iconic An Teallach.

I was looking at this painting during a sad return visit to Scotland in March 2011 after my father passed away on 6th March. It suddenly occurred to me that this would be a wonderful and fitting location to spread my father’s ashes, given his great love for this area of Scotland. The original plan had been for my father’s ashes to be buried at the local crematorium. My mother liked this idea so a plan was made to make a special trip back up to north-west Scotland and find a suitable resting place in Gruinard River for my father.

After my father’s funeral in March 2011, my wife and I returned to Malaysia but then came back again to Scotland in April 2011. We then travelled north to Wester Ross with my mother and my brother to walk up the trail next to the Gruinard River with my father’s ashes and find a fitting resting place.

Gruinard River is a small river that runs into Gruinard Bay from Loch na Sealga in the mountains to the south. None of us had ever been to the Gruinard River or taken a walk up by the river so after a bit of research I found a trail which was frequently used by salmon fishermen to walk up by the river.

So on 16th April 2011 myself, my wife Suit Yoo, my mother Doreen and my brother Alan stood at the end of the trail running up the Gruinard River. I had no idea where we would end up placing my father’s ashes and this was a little worrying ……. but off we went into the unknown.

It was a beautiful walk along the river between the heather clad hills. My mother who was at this time almost 80 was doing well with the walk which was thankfully very flat. All the time we were walking I was worrying about where we would place the ashes.

I was ahead eventually and as I came over a small rise in the track I saw an incredible view up the river ……. it was the painting …. my mother approached and as I showed her this familiar view we both knew that this was to be my father’s final resting place.

We made a small speech by the side of the river and then my brother took the ashes out onto a large rock jutting out over the river. He cast the ashes into the river and as he did so the sun broke through the overcast sky. With the sunshine streaming down the ashes looked like diamonds as they tumbled into the river. It was a magical and emotional moment for all of us.

Eulogy To My Dad

We toasted my father with a large single malt whisky as we sat in the heather by the side of the river.

I had one final task to do. We had decided to set a geocache at the location we chose for my father’s ashes to memorise the location and give us something to return to periodically. We had taken a few small personal items belonging to my father and placed them in a sealed box …… now where to set the geocache. By the river was too dangerous as we did not know how high the waters may rise. I spotted a large boulder cleft in the hill overlooking the spot where we had thrown the ashes into the river so I climbed the hill and placed the geocache into the cleft in the rocks safe from the elements. It was a beautiful vantage point from up on the hill and I got a great view of the Gruinard River as it made its way to the sea.

We trekked back down the trail and eventually reached the final gate close to the road where we had parked the car.

Mission accomplished.

Revisit in 2014

In 2014 during a visit back to Scotland I made a return visit to Gruinard River with my mother. We made the same walk from the entrance gate at the start of the trail up the river all the way back to the point we had laid my father’s ashes 3 years before.

The river was as lovely as before and the weather was great making it a pleasant walk. Soon we were back at that familiar spot we had carried out the small ceremony 3 years before.

I scrambled out to the rock where my brother Alan had dropped my father’s ashes into the river 3 years ago and paid my respects.

I then made a quick trip up the hill to check on the geocache which was still there and intact. I opened the box and put in some extra items.

Revisit in 2018

In 2018 I made another trip back to Scotland and after taking my mother on a trip to Orkney Islands we stopped off on our return journey to once again do our pilgrimage up the Gruinard River. Once again here we were back at that familiar gate at the start of the walk – my mother looking fitter than ever!

Again I checked the geocache box and although the plastic bag covering the box was a little weather-worn the contents were just fine and I took the opportunity again to add some personal items to the box.

I am sure on another visit back to Scotland I will again make a revisit up this beautiful river to that nostalgic spot where my father was laid to rest.

I have already decided that this is where I will rest when my time comes so no doubt my sons and family may well be making a similar trip up the trail by the Gruinard River. It really is a wonderful way to remember someone ….. by taking a stunning walk in the remote Highlands of Scotland. I hope I will be remembered one day in this way.

Passionate Photographer …. Lost in Asia

Stuart Taylor of HighlanderImages Photography has been making images for over 30 years and can offer a diverse range of photo imaging services with a focus on Asia and a documentary/photojournalistic style. These services include planning and executing a photo shoot on location but importantly all the post-processing and image preparation needed for the specific finished media format required by the customer. Stuart’s experience and knowledge in all of these aspects make HighlanderImages Photography a one-stop-shop for a comprehensive and professional image production service.

Stuart can be available for a variety individual assignments or projects and he specialises in areas such as photojournalism, commercial, architectural, real estate, industrial, interior design, corporate, urbex, adventure, wilderness, and travel photography. 

Final image products can be delivered as high resolution images, prints, books, multimedia slideshows, videos, and DVDs. Images from this website can be purchased as prints in a variety of sizes and media, as gift items or as digital downloads.

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