Skye and the Scottish Highlands – Chasing the Light

May 30, 2011  •  Leave a Comment

Doesn’t time fly and already completed my first trip of the year to Scotland and a break from the National Parks 60th Birthday Tour.  I decided to have an overnight stay on the way to my first main photo location, the Isle of Skye, staying on one of my favourite camp sites at Onich about 10 miles south of Fort William and just before the Corran Ferry.  The site overlooks Loch Linnhe with great views over to Ardgour.  The downside is that it is always busy and you have to book well in advance.  Arrived on site to a mix of heavy showers and sunshine having come through a series of heavy downpours all the way up but particularly north of Glasgow.  I  think we were having the April showers in May this year.   Never mind it should make a change from all that sunshine and make for more dramatic images. (I did write this at the time and how true it proved to be).

Well next day off to Skye and on the way took a look down the Glenelg road from Shiel Bridge with the intention of completing a short walk and looking for photo opportunities.  You can still catch a ferry to Skye from here but with the weather continuing the way it had started and with high winds I decided against the walk and using the ferry and backtracked to Kyle of Lochalsh to access Skye via the new bridge.  My next 4 days on Skye had mainly poor weather and not what I was expecting in May on the west coast.  My last few years visits have seen far better weather.  Maybe it was because I keep telling everyone that May is the best month to visit.   I did manage a couple of brighter days or periods in the day which allowed me to have walks out to Coral Beach, up the Quiraing and out to Talisker Bay and Neist Point. After my visit to Neist it got me thinking that as Skye is no longer an island in the true definition due to the bridge connection is Neist Point now the most westerly point on the British mainland instead of Ardnamurchan.  Let me know what you think.  There seems to be very few decent beaches on Skye but certainly the short walk to Coral Beach was well worth it.  I was extremely fortunate the day I visited the Quiraing with clear blue skies whilst I walked up and back but it soon changed shortly after my return to the camper.  On reflection and having looked at the images taken the weather was too good and the sky too clear and blue but you can’t have it all ways.  It could have been misty and wet and then I probably would not have got any shots or even a decent walk.  Some of the other images taken on Skye are now included in the updated gallery of the Isle of Skye

 

Coral Beach

 

My next base was just North of Ullapool at Ardmair Point with a view over Loch Kanaird to Ben Mor Coigach that is on the rare occasions I could see it.  My main photographic objective here was to cover certain locations in Coigach although I did not manage to complete any walking as I was too busy driving to the locations on my list in between the heavy rain and hail.  One shot I particularly wanted was of Stac Pollaidh from Loch Lurgainn which after some patience I managed to achieve.   I did manage a short walk over Achnahaird Bay although with the extremely strong winds and driving rain I had great difficulty standing up and trying to keep rain off the lens. Searching around the rocks I did come cross a detail shot shown below which I am quiet pleased with but not quiet sure of a title – any ideas greatly appreciated.

 

Guardians

 

After a short stay I moved on to Clachtoll, but on the way over the “wee mad road” to Lochinver I managed the 4/5 mile walk up to the Falls of Kirkaig and Fionn Loch and one of the best viewpoints of Suilven.  This is a walk I can highly recommend but it is rocky and can be very wet in places so you will need walking boots.

For my two day stay at Clachtoll one of the main photo locations to visit was the Old Man of Stoer which is a 4/5 mile walk from the lighthouse car park.  The weather was so changeable, which is what I expect and one of the reasons I visit the Highlands west coast but this weather was changing more regularly and quickly probably due to the high wind gusts.   Anyway I decided to put on waterproofs from the start and thank goodness I did as half way to the Old Man a real storm blew through which cleared just before I got there, and then another blew through.  So in between these storms and sheltering under large rocks I managed to stay long enough to get some reasonable images.  Another location was Clashnnessie Bay where I was fortunate enough to get another break in the weather even if I was having difficulty protecting the camera from the blown sand.  On the way back to Clachtoll I managed a visit to Ardvreck Castle and to capture a reasonable image of trees on Loch Assynt.

 

The Old Man of Stoer

 

At this stage due to the unpredictable weather conditions, which did not seem to be showing any signs of changing in the foreseeable future, I was in two minds whether to go on to my final destination at Durness where one of my main objectives was to visit Cape Wrath which was looking more and more unlikely.  On my drive to Durness I turned off to attempt to complete a walk from Oldshoremore to Polin Bay but gave up part way through because of rain and winds.  It was impossible to keep the camera steady and dry.

 

After the Storm - Sango Bay

 

Having arrived at Durness the evening light on Sango Bay was fantastic and I was really pleased I had decided to complete the journey.  With the ferry not running over the Kyle of Durness to access Cape Wrath, spending the night being buffeted by high winds in the camper over looking Sango Bay and the forecast to get worse with the added inconvenience of volcanic ash I took the decision to cut my stay short and head South the following morning.  I did mange a couple of hours of reasonable weather on the way down until just before Inverness I was hit by the further high winds that Scotland suffered at that time.  After a 500 mile journey which weather wise improved South of Glasgow I arrived back home late that evening.

Whilst the trip photographically had possibly not been as successful as I would have hoped (but they never are) I enjoyed the solitude of those vast open spaces and beautiful empty beaches that you get in this part of Scotland and certainly would recommend it for anyone wishing to capture images of one of the last remaining areas of wilderness in the British Isles. Some of the other images from the trip can be seen in the new Sutherland and Caithness gallery.


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