on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers


Around The Gameshope Glen

Simon Butterworth

Simon Butterworth is a photographer and musician who lives in the Scottish Borders.


The Southern Uplands of Scotland must be one of the least photographed areas in the British Isles. A search of Getty Images turned up only forty photos tagged with Southern Uplands of Scotland, whilst a whopping ninety thousand images appeared for Scotland as a whole. I’m more than happy with this situation given my penchant for solitary hikes across the big round hills, but it does pose the question of why this is the case. To visitors from south of the border, the area is just grassy hills with lots of wind turbines, passed through on the way to more celebrated areas further north.

It is also an area lacking in notable features such as rocky summits, dramatic cliffs, or a rugged coastline - in short, it’s a place that is difficult to photograph. As a long time local resident I’ve become something of a connoisseur of vast tracts of open moorland; the play of light on a rounded hillside and the enormous skies are things that I have come to value highly.

One notable, if a subtle feature, is the wall. The wall skirts around Gameshope Glen in a horseshoe ending not far from where it started, close to Talla Reservoir, a couple of miles east of the Tweed Valley. Built sometime in the early nineteenth century and travelling for upwards of twenty miles, it has three offshoots: one climbs Hart Fell (808 metres) ending abruptly near the summit, another goes off to the shores of Loch Skeen, and the third heads down towards Moffatdale, ending inconclusively just above the Grey Mare's Tail waterfall. Rather intriguingly, it navigates in a series of straight lines, saving anything that resembles a curve for the most vertiginous sections. 

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