"Predicting the next big thing in classic vehicle appreciation is often doomed to fail - otherwise, we'd be rich doing just that and not just making films. We'd still make the films, but we'd be going back to mansions with "
Scottish pictures telling a thousand words about the wonderful bikes and scenery
Scotland’s unique landscapes provide some incredible backdrops for bike photography, with many of its most iconic locations accessible in a single day
Whether you’re born and bred in Scotland or visiting it for the first time, it’s impossible not to be charmed by your surroundings. From ornate architecture to picture-postcard scenery, few places on Earth offer as much visual drama and presence as Scotland’s historic cities and timeless countryside.
For keen bikers, this presents two related opportunities. Firstly, there’s the chance to get your knee down on iconic roads like the Kintyre-bound A83, or the NC500 Highlands trail. Along the way, you can capture some spectacular shots of your surroundings, maybe positioning your pride and joy in the foreground for maximum social media impact. However, many of the best backdrops for your ride are off the beaten track, not publicised on tourism websites or TripAdvisor.
If you’re hunting for a location for your next bike shoot, here’s how to navigate Scotland’s Central Belt in a day. Along the way, you’ll visit modern riverside apartments, world-famous artworks and historic feats of engineering. Yet as the sun comes up, you’ll be in a Victorian housing development…
Sunrise – Park Terrace, Glasgow
We could have dedicated this entire feature to Glasgow’s parks, from the floral Botanics to the Cuningar Loop nature reserve. However, few sights in this city rival the view from the top of Park Terrace across Kelvingrove Park. As the sun rises behind you, you can capture dramatic shots with the Lord Roberts monument in the foreground, and the University of Glasgow’s medieval spires in the background.
The Park district is home to some of Glasgow’s finest streets, making this a great place for impromptu shoot-and-run pictures. From the cobbled Claremont Terrace Lane to Park Circus’s million-pound villas, a brightly coloured bike will contrast vividly against these curved terraces of blonde sandstone Victoriana.
Morning – Chatelherault Country Park, Ferniegair
Time to get a few miles under your belt – 17, to be precise. Head south through Hamilton to the village of Ferniegair, and one of Scotland’s greatest architectural follies – the vast façade of Chatelherault. Built in the 18th century by the Duke of Hamilton as a hunting lodge, its fine red gravel paths and manicured green lawns are usually off-limits to cars, but you’ll have no problem putting the kickstand down outside this vast edifice.
Grand as Chatelherault’s buildings are, the steep drop beside the main layby makes this an ideal location for close-ups of your ride. Apart from manicured terraces of trees, there’s nothing in the background to distract from a detail shot of the key in the ignition, or a three-quarters profile. Best of all, that slope makes this one of few places in Scotland where the shadows are cast downhill out of sight. There’s no better location for capturing bokeh bike photography.
Lunchtime – Glasgow Harbour
The sun is usually highest around midday, and it’ll be standing due south. The northern bank of the River Clyde is an ideal place for a lunchtime shoot, but avoid paying for permission to park outside the iconic SEC complex. Instead, head half a mile west to Glasgow Harbour. This collection of Millennial flats has a sparkling granite walkway running alongside the river, closed off to cars but accessible on two wheels. Because this broad pathway doesn’t extend beyond the development itself, you’ll rarely be troubled by anyone while conducting a shoot here.
Park at the eastern end, and your choice of backgrounds includes Zaha Hadid’s Riverside Museum (with the Tall Ship Glenlee moored beside it) or the curved 18-storey residential towers of the Harbour itself. You could even face towards the Clyde shipyards across the water at Govan, where HMS Glasgow was launched last year. Don’t be tempted to coincide your visit with a scheduled launch, though – it’s the only time this pedestrianised boulevard will ever be busy.
(If you’re hungry by this point, head along Dumbarton Road to the 279 Café Bistro. They do a mean filled roll, and there’s generous bike parking directly opposite on Stewartville Street).
Afternoon – The Kelpies, Falkirk
The Kelpies have given many M9 motorists a shock, as their giant steel heads suddenly loom into view. This sculpture of two barge-pulling horses stands at the heart of an aquatic turning pool whose granite surroundings are reminiscent of the Harbour. Still, there’s nothing else familiar about this 30-metre-tall sculpture, which is understandably famous around the world.
The nearest car park is half a mile away, but you should be fine to walk your bike along the wide footpaths and frame a shot worthy of a place in your lounge; if you pass a steward, ask their permission as a courtesy. With the sun behind you, metal-on-metal shots will sparkle while the turning pool’s rippling water adds colour to a studiedly industrial backdrop. You’ll need to be patient to get a clear shot – busloads of tourists are commonplace, even in the bleak midwinter.
Sunset – Main Street, North Queensferry
Tourists also flock to affluent South Queensferry to gawp at the views and eat fish and chips on the beach. Give them a swerve and head across the Kincardine Bridge towards North Queensferry. Your final destination is the deceptively-named Main Street – a little-visited residential lane whose cobbled cul-de-sac roundel serves up uninterrupted views of the Forth Rail Bridge.
Even on a day of drama, this is something special, especially as the sun (to your right) hits the cantilever rail bridge (to your left). Park as close to the water’s edge as you dare, and capture those orange sunset rays in one of Scotland’s most evocative and recognisable settings. Best of all, you’ll probably have the cobbles to yourself.
With the sky darkening and lights twinkling across the Forth, it’s time to saddle up one more time, heading home to survey your shots on a monitor. You’ve now seen the best of central Scotland and immortalised your bike against backdrops a professional photographer would envy. Not bad for a day’s ‘work’…
CLICK TO ENLARGE