The blog of photographer Kim Ayres

A Magical Evening Under Dark Skies

Under a full moon, round a log fire, in the heart of the Galloway Hills, I sat entranced by the most beautiful music flowing out of the fingertips of 3 of Scotland's finest traditional musicians.

On Saturday evening, I went out to Sanctuary 2015 - a 24 hour event in the heart of an International Dark Sky Park in the Galloway Hills - about 25 miles from where I live. The whole thing was free and lots of people were camping overnight to make the most of it.

Although I was only there for a few hours - arriving as the sun was setting - it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. There were plenty of activities, art installations and even a radio station with a range of only a few miles playing music created specially for the event. There were also several camp fires with benches around them where hours could get wiled away in conversation with friends and people you didn't know until you sat next to them

Gathered round the fire

Shortly after I arrived the moon rose above the hill. Lots of people stopped to watch, almost as though it was another installation performance laid on. Like sunrises and sunsets, there's something quite primal about watching the moon appear above the horizon and just float there in the sky.


I climbed the path to Murray's monument, where there was a light show being projected on to it, and from where The Dark Outside FM radio station was being broadcast.

Murray's Monument

The direction of the path was lit by several tiny lanterns, but bright moonlight meant the it was pretty easy to find. That is, until someone would walk past in the other direction with a torch and destroy my night vision for a minute or two. However, the view was stunning and down to one side you could clearly make out a huge neon circle - another art installation that was lit until midnight. - adding to an otherworldly sense.


Back down at the main site, I decided I needed a hot chocolate. I'd noticed a permanent queue at the van serving drinks and toasties earlier on - sometimes longer, sometimes shorter, but always a queue. I took my turn and eventually got my order in. It was well after 11pm by now. I have no idea how long the woman had been serving, but she looked exhausted.

Waiting for coffee

At the point I started to make my way back to the car, I heard some etheral music drifting over from a fire in the distance. I made my way over there and found Ruth Morris and Gavin Marwick of Bellevue Rendezvous were playing with harpist Wendy Stewart.

Fireside music

This wasn't an official performance. It was just 3 musicians who were playing because they love to play. There were only 3 people to witness and hear their performance, and the other 2 were lost in conversation.

It felt almost criminal that something so beautiful was being missed by the rest of the world, so with my camera sitting on a chair next to me, I flipped it into video mode and captured a couple of minutes of their magical performance.

On the drive home, I went through several fog banks, but with the moonlight cutting through, it was more otherworldly than ever. It was truly something of a magical evening...

Fog and moonlight - a magical combination


hope said...

On behalf of "the rest of the world", THANK YOU! It really was a magical sound, enhanced by the 2 crickets which have found their way under my work desk. :)
(Is it wrong that I wanted to "shush!" the other 2 people talking?)

I think I'll go listen should put that music and your photos into a video presentation like only you can do.

Kim Ayres said...

Hope - If you enjoyed the music, I'd recommend you get hold of Bellevue Rendezvous's albums. They have 2 out and are planning a 3rd at some point. :)

Hindsfeet said...

i loved this post, Kim....soaked it up........thanks for beaming me over for awhile.......

Wishing you always all wonderful...
Liz ~*

Kim Ayres said...

Liz - delighted you enjoyed it :)

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