So, it’s about a month since I got back from my trip to the Scottish Highlands. Firstly, what a place! The contrast between the landscape here and in the rest of the UK is very stark, and I had no idea that it would be so different.
In my 10 days there I visited a whole lot of places, with time spent in Glencoe, Skye and Torridon, with each of these locations offering a completely new selection of photographic opportunities. From the moorland and valleys of Glencoe to the dramatic coastline and Quiraing of Skye and the towering Munros of the Torridon giants. I can’t really pick a favourite out of all the places I saw, here are some highlights:
– The Fairy Pools of Skye where a photographer could spend a whole day quite easily with waterfall after waterfall and thousands of interesting rocks amongst the turquoise river with the Cuillins as a backdrop
– Ben Aligin, a walk that takes in two Munros and some ridgewalking along the horns. The walk starts at sea level and quickly rises to 1000m, where you follow a precarious path along the ridge of the horseshoe range then steeply down 1000m to get home
– Glen Etive, which is found off a side road of the A82 leading to Glencoe. The little lane follows a picturesque river down the glen through lichen covered forests and ends at the secluded Loch Etive which was perfectly still when I arrived
This part of Scotland really is a landscape photographers dream, and you really have to stop yourself from pulling the car over every mile to take another photo of a loch or imposing mountain. I’ll be back there at some point in the future for sure, as I only captured a tiny fraction of the place. One thing I captured plenty of was fried breakfasts. After 7 days of huge plates of bacon, eggs, sausages and black pudding I couldn’t take it any more. The next day I asked for just some cereal and toast, which was followed by the B&B owner looking at me as if I was insane. However, at each place I went I found the friendliest people. Every B&B was run by really nice couples who were more than happy to offer advice about where to go and when to be there, and I can’t highlight their friendliness enough, especially given what passes for service in London.
Now on to the weather. Despite all the reports I didn’t really expect it to be all true. How wrong I was. The weather here was really reminiscent of Iceland, as it’s hugely changeable. You really have to make the most of any decent light you get, as there is a good chance you won’t see it again. Ever. In 10 days I experienced everything; brilliant afternoon sunlight, pouring rain, 10ft visibility fog, sleet and snow. I guess the only thing missing was lightning and tornados. On the day I climbed Ben Aligin it was sunny at the bottom. Half way up it began to drizzle. At the top of the first peak it turned to hail and on top of the second peak it snowed. I thought all the energy expended climbing the damn thing would be wasted, but then all of a sudden the sun broke through for 5 minutes. I shot a few quick frames, rushing around trying to find interesting rocks and compositions and before I knew it the clouds and snow returned. I got what I wanted though and the picture will appear on this site soon enough!
So what about my little challenge? My aim was to come back from some of the iconic locations with different shots to everyone else. Well, partly this is mission accomplished, partly not. At some of the famous landscapes such as Black Rock Cottage, the Old Man of Storr and the Quiraing there were a few minutes of good light when I showed up, so I hurriedly took a few shots of what looked ok before trying to find something different. Unfortunately the light had then gone and I waited around for something else to happen, which it never did. At other places such as the Buchaille Etive Mor, Glencoe, I was happy to get my own individual shots. There were times at these places when the light was so great that finding a good shot was simple. In other locations like Rannoch Moor and Lochan nah-Achlaise the famous trees that feature in so many great photos are no more. They’ve been destroyed by the weather, so, just as I did, everyone will now have to find a new favourite tree to shoot in these places. So I’ve got my own images that I think are original. Mission accomplished.
Having said that I’ll probably find the same ones on someone else’s website later today.
Where to go on holiday next?