This summer, we unveiled our #UnlockScotland tourism campaign to encourage people to let the train take the strain, and discover every corner of Scotland’s rich and varied landscape.
As part of the campaign, we challenged budding Instagrammers to a photography competition, asking people to share their imagery of Scotland, captured during their travels.
Competition was fierce and incredible pictures came in from all around the country.
We recruited a top judging panel to decide who would be the lucky winner of two Spirit of Scotland travel passes and have the chance to be published in The Herald.
ScotRail’s tourism manager Alasdair Smart, top Instagrammer Berriestagram and The Herald’s staff photographer Colin Mearns had a tough time judging the hundreds of entries but settled on one overall winner, shortlisting three others.
Gary Chittick, posting as @GBC123 on Instagram won the competition with his striking image of Loch Nedd, taken in late August.
Colin Mearns, staff photographer at The Herald said of the image: “This is a serene and beautiful landscape photograph. The dying glow of the setting sun giving a pinkish hue to the scene is wonderful. The framing of the yacht on the tranquil loch gives a lovely sense of depth to the photograph. A really fantastic image.”
Instagrammer Berriestagram added: "It simply captures the spirit of Scotland, mist, pink sunsets and magic."
Winner Gary Chittick said: “To say I was delighted when I heard I’d won ScotRail’s competition is an understatement. I had been following the #UnlockScotland hashtag since it started and the quality of submissions every day from all over the country was staggering.”
“It's great that so many people have been inspired to travel and share their images and memories via the ScotRail initiative. Scotland is such a special place to so many people all over the world and Loch Nedd is exactly that for me.
“The image was taken on the final night of a trip around Northwest Scotland. The air and Loch were perfectly silent and still as the sun was setting and a visiting boat had just moored for the night. It was an idyllic moment looking east over the mist towards Quinag as the mountain caught the last rays of sunlight. My trip was in many ways, paying respects to my uncle Tom who passed away earlier in the year. The happiness of staying at his close friend Val's chalet was bittersweet as my image captures a view he'd have loved to have seen with his own eyes. This one's for Tom.”
The three shortlisted images came from @s.laura.burke with her breath-taking image of the Five Sisters of Kintail, @RMurray89 with an air balloon, spotted whilst cycling on the Loch Leven trail and @photographybymilesgray with his stunning Edinburgh sunset.
Alasdair Smart from ScotRail said: “We’re thrilled the #UnlockScotland Instagram competition was so well received, with hundreds of images submitted by amateur photographers, each keen to participate and showcase their favourite parts of our beautiful country. The variety and quality of imagery were outstanding and it was really difficult to pick our finalists. Gary’s incredible image of Loch Nedd really stood out and captured the essence of Scotland, and it’s certainly a fitting tribute to his uncle.
“We’ve loved seeing all the images people have captured when travelling around Scotland by train and would encourage all adventurers to keep sharing their images using #UnlockScotland.”
All four images will be printed in The Herald on Saturday 21st October, be sure to pick up your copy!