Fala Dam Burn, East Water, Salters’ Burn and Blackhouse Burn combine into Keith Water, which flows into Humbie Water south of Humbie Kirk. It joins the River Tyne and will eventually empty into the North Sea near Belhaven on Scotland’s east coast.
Johnstounburn Water rises near Woodcote Mill and joins Humbie Water beyond the Kirk, nearer to Saltoun Forest.
Church Wood becomes Humbie Wood, which joins Saltoun Forest. Close to the water on steep sides, a canopy held high of Beech of which these are some of the finest in the Lothians. Clean light grey girths, double an arm span and more.
I have walked there many times now, and slept there just once. As that day ended, we were visited by two Badgers both running towards where we stood. They were following their night time path. A desire way, worn bare and almost grooved by passing. One came within a meter of my foot, blind with excitement.
Soon after it became dark. A night of stillness and Tawny Owls, the smell of earth drawn up by its proximity to your nose. Warmth in the sleeping bag, followed by an early morning of cold shade. My rules are simple, you must make breakfast at your bivvy spot. Porridge again.
On foot, we explored the woodland a little. Late spring was becoming early summer, the first full flush just days away. At the time I did not know the name of the river or the correct name of the woodland. I am now amazed at the density of names for such a short run of water and there may be more to know.
Tree becomes copse, and copse becomes wood. Bigger still and that wood becomes a forest. I am far from sure I could tell where one ends or the division is made. When I returned to the wood next, the grass was much higher the leaves full to bursting point. I tried to walk along the bank, a certain line on the map. I had an adventure in miniature.
Documenting the river, working along beyond where the Keith and the Humbie waters join at a point known as the meeting of the waters. A very short distance to become disorientated, but I managed.
I have returned a few times since, documenting the water and trees at different times of day. Mostly I got lucky, never once coming away without an image that I was happy with. They show the moods, give a sense of smell and sound. Each of the eight images is an Avatar or Icon, a photo can not be much more. I am pleased enough with them to get them printed and frame them for exhibition.
From mid October 2015 they will be on display at the Humbie Hub, which is no more than 1k from the river. This feels like the right thing to do and something I have not done in many years, a sort of honouring or thank you to a special place. Click on the thumbnails below for an exhibition preview.