Anthony Baxter – one of the UK’s leading documentary filmmakers – reveals his personal best.



It would be St Cyrus. It’s a beach that James Morrison painted quite a bit. It has the dramatic cliffs at the north end, creating a great atmosphere.

HeraldScotland: St Cyrus Beach in Aberdeenshire holds fond childhood memories for Anthony BaxterSt Cyrus Beach in Aberdeenshire holds fond childhood memories for Anthony Baxter

Unusually, it also has a cemetery at the nature reserve area, which is just to the west of the sands. You can walk up past the salmon bothy which is closed now but I remember, as a child, walking down to the beach and seeing the salmon fishers working. It’s a magical place.


I think I’ll go for the DCA, Dundee Contemporary Arts. I’ve always loved it as an arts centre/cinema/cafe but also the building, which is on the site of a former garage. It was redeveloped as a really interesting building. The idea of having that kind of complex in a city like Dundee is extremely important because it provides a real focal point. Also the fact that it spills out onto a courtyard in the summer where it feels private, but it’s still connected to the rest of the city.


Now, the thing about Montrose High Street is it’s my favourite but also the one that frustrates me most. Looking back on old photographs it’s clear that at its heart is an extremely elegant street, one of the widest in Scotland, with the steeple at one end. It has so much potential. It’s unusual in that the gable ends face into the street, giving the local football team its nickname Gable Enders.


I’ve always loved coming to the beach here. My mum was from Montrose so we spent summers here. It would be much busier. My cousin recently showed me a poster from the 1970s saying “Montrose: where the action is!” with scantily clad women. I don’t remember it like that but I do remember it being very pretty. My mum would always have treats ready for us coming out of the sea, cold and hungry, something like little cakes that she would call “chittery bites”.


If you come from the north into Ullapool, there’s an incredible view down onto the village. It looks so cosy, nestled there in the Highlands. It always looks like such an oasis of calm. If you come in from the other side, there are whitewashed cottages together at the harbour. It’s just a place that raises my spirits, so the view when I’m approaching it does that too.


Again, I’m in Ullapool, at the bookshop in The Ceilidh Place. One of the things I love about it is you can buy a book in the bar at 10.30 at night with a beer, then sit back and relax. It’s a small shop but the books are presented in a way that you want to pick them up and it’s well curated for the people who go there.


Each hotel room has a selection of books from one author, all available in the bookshop. It’s such a cosy place just to browse around and to feel lost in.


I think it has to be those particularly Scottish sweet treats that remind me of being a child – things like Mars Bar crispy cakes.

There’s a coffee shop in Montrose called The Coffee House and I love going there when I’ve been travelling for a while. I can get a bowl of soup and a roll – and they have a great selection of all those treats. There’s something about the sweetness and the texture – it never changes and it brings you back to a moment.


Again, I have to head back to Ullapool and The Ceilidh Place, somewhere I feel at home. You can be there all day and graze on cake and soup and coffee then a drink in the evening. Apart from the fact that everything they serve is so good, you can strike up conversations with some of the most interesting people in a way that doesn’t happen in other places.

The atmosphere is incredible, particularly when they have the log-burning fire going and music in the background which tends to be Scottish traditional music.


I do love a walk up Stac Pollaidh. It can be done in three-and-a-half hours and it’s a circular walk so you get the most amazing views of the Western Isles.

HeraldScotland: Stac Pollaidh in the northwest HighlandsStac Pollaidh in the northwest Highlands

Although you will encounter other people it probably won’t be many and it gives you the opportunity to be able to get some time to yourself. It’s always a therapeutic walk.


The online Glasgow Film Festival presents the world premiere of Anthony Baxter’s new film Eye of the Storm, a portrait of one of Scotland’s most gifted painters, James Morrison, through the last two years of his life. It is available from from 6.15pm on Sunday, February 28 until 6.15pm on Wednesday, March 3.