Rocks on the shore on Iona
We had a fantastic trip to Iona at the end of a recent trip to Mull. After torrential rain and floods during the week, and another bout of heavy snow on the mainland, Friday’s forecast looked hopeful, so we took off for the day, and caught the early ferry cross from Fionnphort. We were treated to a day of spring sunshine. It was wonderful to feel a bit of heat in the sun.
We walked around some of the island’s coastline, from the beach at the north end, to Camas Cuil an t-Saimh (the Bay at the Back of the Ocean) which is a huge beach on the west side of Iona. I loved the variety in the shoreline of each beach. The reds in this gneiss created another excuse for a photo!
Snow on Ben More, Mull
Ben More on the island of Mull is the only island Munro outside of Skye. Ben More lies between Loch na Keal to the north, and Loch Scridain to the south. The mountain’s summit is formed where three ridges meet.
Ben More is a popular hill for hillwalkers. There are stunning views from the summit, which is 3169 feet above the lochs. On a clear day it’s possible to see out to Coll and Tiree to the west, and Morvern and Ardnamurchan to the north.
The commonest route for walkers to take is from the north side, starting out at Loch Na Keal, and taking the track which passes by Dhiseig, a house on the northern slopes of the mountain. Since the route starts from sea level, it takes several hours to climb the hill to the top and back.
I love the winter colours on Mull. There’s been some dramatic winter storms recently, with snow then heavy rain in the middle of the week. There’s often a cap of snow on the summit of Ben More at this time of year. This photo was taken from the south side, by Advergnish farmhouse near Pennyghael.
Snow at Loch Ossian
During the week I went hunting for some snowy photos, and decided to head up to Loch Ossian on Rannoch Moor. From Corrour station, there’s hills and moorland stretching in every direction. When I got off the train, all of it was covered in snow. Apart from the abandoned house (Lubnaclach), there’s no signs of buildings for many miles beyond the station area. That’s a lot of white!
The forestry track heading east from Corrour heads over to Loch Ossian. Hidden in the trees at the west end of the loch is Loch Ossian Youth Hostel, run by the SYHA. The hostel was refurbished in 2003, and is now billed as an ‘eco-hostel, with a wind turbine, solar panels and composting toilets.
It’s an incredibly beautiful area of the country. The forestry track continues right round the loch, making for a wonderful fairly flat walk straight from the station. And for those who want to climb Munros, there are plenty within striking distance of the hostel. The train takes you up to 1339 feet at Corrour station, so there’s not too much more climbing to do from there! This photo was taken from the track to the south of the loch, looking towards Ben na Lap on the north shore. It’s probably the easiest of the Munro’s to climb from the station, being fairly close, and also having a steady gentle climb up the west side. The hostel is in the small cluster of trees, seen here at the left hand end of the loch.
Snow at Corrour station on Rannoch Moor
This week a made a quick journey north to look for snow in the Highlands. I headed to Rannoch Moor on the train first thing on Wednesday morning. On the strength of a good forecast for two days, I had booked a bed at Loch Ossian Youth Hostel. It’s a place I’m very familiar with from my younger days, but I hadn’t been back in many years. I was intrigued to see how it looked after the major refurbishment it underwent in 2003. I was also hunting for snowy photos for the Photography Scotland’s 2014 landscape calendar.
Corrour station, at 1339 feet, is Scotland’s highest train station. For the final hour of the journey north, we had the most fantastic snowy views. From Tyndrum onwards, we were above the snowline, and the sun was out. Corrour is possibly familiar to many people who have never visited it, after its brief appearance in the film ‘Trainspotting’. It’s a remote spot, with just a station platform, and one building opposite – peculairly, this is a restaurant. Corour Station House Restaurant was built after the station master’s house was knocked down in 2000. With no public road, it’s only possible to get to the UK’s most remote restaurant by taking a train on the West Highland Line. And in the winter it’s essential to book before you go, otherwise you may find the restaurant is shut!
There was still a little late morning sunshine as we pulled into the station at Corrour. Several walkers got off to head up Leum Ulleum, the hill to the west of the station. I had my camera out, and headed off down the track to the youth hostel. The view looking back at the station shows just how remote it is.
Kilchurn castle reflected in Loch Awe
I decided recently to take a trip north to capture some of the stunning autumnal colours which were developing, and Kilchurn castle on Loch Awe was definitely my destination. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen this castle briefly from the train heading to Oban. There’s just a tantalising glimpse of the castle after leaving Dalmally station, as the line takes you round the head of the loch.
I’ve often thought it would be a good spot to head for with the camera, and when I saw that the forecast was for a still sunny day, with mist in the early morning, I thought it was definitely time to go for it.
The castle is a magnificent ruin on the northern west shore of Loch Awe, just a few miles east of Oban. The castle has been restored by Historic Scotland. It can be accessed on foot by a path from the A85 to the north, although it’s tricky to find!
I decided to head down the A819 which runs along the south east shore of the loch. I was glad I’d had the foresight to pack my walking boots, as there was a fair amount of boggy walking to get to a spot where I had this view of the castle.
Trip to Mull
On a recent brief trip to Mull the weather forecast changed from looking pretty abysmal to unseasonably warm sunshine. We decided it was worth a trip up Ben More. I’ve only ever been up it from the South side before, so was looking forward to trying out a different route.
The weather certainly didn’t disappoint us!
There was some cloud, but it stayed dry and sunny all day. The few clouds that appeared disappeared just as fast. Ben More is the highest mountain on Mull, and at 966 m (3,169 ft), is classified as a Munro. The panoramic view as we climbed the last section of the hill was spectacular. I’m blaming that for the walk taking so long! We could easily identify Ulva down in the loch below, and, Coll and Tiree on the horizon. Looking north and east we could see across to Morven, Moydart, Knoydart and a wee corner of Skye. It’s absolutely stunning landscape on a day like this.
For me, the best views came when we reached the summit. The cloud was sitting on the top as we climbed the last rise, so we arrived to almost no view at all. It very quickly disappeared, leaving the ridge to the east bathed in sun – what a beautiful sight. And I was lucky enough to see my first Brokenspectre at the top!
Dramatic light on boats in Oban bay
I love the activity with the variety of boats in Oban bay. I regularly pass through Oban, on my various trips to islands off the west coast. Every time I find different views I want to photograph, but I’ve been hoping to catch something like this for a while. I love the sense of activity that’s almost always present around Oban bay. As a busy ferry terminal, it’s sees CalMac ferries heading out to the Western Isles, Colonsay, Mull, Lismore, Coll and Tiree. In the summer months, it’s also buzzing with small boat operators offering trips to see the seals, whales and bird-life, and others taking visitors to places such as Staffa and Corryvreckan and the Treshnish islands.
On my most recent trip, there was only a few minutes between the train arriving in Oban, and the ferry setting off for Mull, so I didn’t have time for my usual meander around the town. I could see the light was looking promising, so I headed straight for the boat, and nipped up on deck as soon as we were on board. In the early evening light, we were treated to a beautiful view of the town as we headed out of the bay. The dark clouds added a somewhat ominous feel to the views.
It’s a while since I’ve been through historic Glencoe. Glencoe is a hugely popular destination for hill walkers, being surrounded by dramatic mountains on all sides. It also attracts droves of photographers. Buachaille Etive Mor (the great herdsman of Etive) at the head of the glen is possibly Scotland’s most photographed mountain. Glencoe, situated in the Highlands of Scotland, is undoubtedly Scotland’s most scenic glen, with a dramatic road twisting its way from top to bottom. The glen is named after the river Coe which runs through it. It’s often a dramatic sight after a bout of heavy rain! There is also a village of the same name a the foot of the glen.
The road through Glencoe a route I’ve travelled on many occasions – often on the way to Lismore or Mull. The road through the glen is a superb place to stop for photos – it’s hard to resist a view like this! I think it’s a place that looks at its best in ‘atmospheric’ weather conditions – fortunately those are pretty common around the area!
This shot was taken looking east along Loch Achtriochtan, at the foot of the glen on an unusually calm day.
West Highland line steam train
For a long time I’ve hoped I might have an opportunity to photograph the steam train which travels from Fort William to Mallaig in the summer months. The west Highland line is undoubtedly Scotland’s most scenic train journey, and was voted the top railway journey in the world in 2009, by the readers of wanderlust Magazine. The journey from Glasgow to Mallaig takes in some breathtaking and varied scenery as the route passes through Rannoch Moor, Fort William, over the ‘Harry Potter’ viaduct at Glenfinnan, and on up the west coast to Mallaig.
The added bonus of being able to travel on a steam train betwen Fort William and Mallaig makes this section of the route incredibly popular, particularly in the summer months. I was heading back from Skye at the weekend, and found myself in Mallaig with a wee bit of time to kill. I wandered over to the station to see when the steam train, known as the Hogwarts Express, was due in. I thought there might be a chance to take a few pictures. It turned out I had impeccable timing – the engine pulled into the station just as I arrived.
I couldn’t believe the number of people who got off – the platform was completely packed with tourists jostling for a place to take their pictures of the train. Ian Riley, the train’s owner, who was patiently leaning out of the engine, smiling as folk snapped away.
I had to wait quite a while for some space to get this shot!
Visit the west coast railways website for more information on the train’s journeys on the west Highland line.
Gnarled tree trunk in black and white
This photo was taken near Torrin on Skye in the Scottish Highlands.
Dawn over Knoydart in the Scottish Highlands
I was licky to have an opportunity to take a few shots of this sunrise from in front of Sabhal Mor Ostaig, the Gaelic college on Skye, looking over to the hills of Knoydart. I was on a photography course recently at the college, and was staying on campus for five days. I’d been keeping an eye on the weather forecast. I realised we might be in for a good morning, so I got up early to catch the peaceful morning light.
The college has two separate areas – the original college was built in 1973 around the barn at Arainn Ostaig in Sleat. The new buildings, over the road at Arainn Chaluim Chille were added several years later. The college has built up a huge reputation as a centre for excellence in teaching Gaelic. It also runs a programme of short courses which run over the easter and summer holidays.
The photography course was great fun,. and gave us plenty of opportunities to get out into Skye’s stunning scenery to take photos. I rather enjoyed this wee tranquil moment watching the dawn colours breaking over Knoydart. It wasn’t as peaceful as it looks in a picture, though – the midges were driving me demented!
Huge pod of Dolphins off Skye
I was lucky enough to catch this shot on a boat trip from Armadale on Skye to Knoydart when I was on a photography course recently. I knew there was a huge pod of dolphins around in the Sound of Sleat at the time. They decided to come past and put on a show for us – it was amazing to see dolphins leaping across the full width of the Sound. Estimates I’ve seen said there are up to 200 dolphins in the pod. We spent 10 or 15 minutes enjoying watching them leaping around the boat. There were plenty of cameras out! It proved surprisingly hard to catch them as they jump, though, but I was pleased with this photo.
I was staying in Sleat at the South end of Skye a couple of weeks ago – it’s the first time I’ve been up there in the bluebell season (albeit at the tail end). I had no idea there would be so many!
I loved the light in the woods at the Clan Donald Centre.
On the road to Elgol, just past Cill Chriosd church (Kilchrist), there’s a reed-filled loch (Loch Cill Chriosd). It was a grey day when we were down there, but there was still plenty to photograph. One of the things I particularly liked was this knackered old fence.
Taken from Lower Breakish on Skye, looking towards Dun Caan on the island of Raasay – I love a good Scottish island sunset!
I was on a photography course on Skye recently, when we went on a day trip which included Tarskavaig beach. It was a cracking location to stop and take photos. This beach is lovely, and just around the corner there is a tiny disused church nestled down by the sea. Just over to the west, you can see the dramatic Cuillin Hills from the west coast of Sleat. Tarskavaig is on a loop road which starts at Kilbeg near Sabhal mor Ostaig, and loops round through Tarskavaig and Ord before rejoining the A851 just north of Teangue. .
I was on a photography course on Skye recently, when we went on a day trip which included Tarskavaig beach. It was a cracking location to stop and take photos. This beach is lovely, and just around the corner there is a tiny disused church nestled down by the sea. Just over to the west, you can see the dramatic Cuillin Hills from the west coast of Sleat.
Tarskavaig is on a loop road which starts at Kilbeg near Sabhal mor Ostaig, and loops round through Tarskavaig and Ord before rejoining the A851 just north of Teangue.
I was away on Skye during the week, and have come back with a hoard of photos. During the week we went to Elgol, and passed a herd of Highland cattle in the field. By the time we came back they were all over the road, almost begging us to stop and take a picture or two. I had a wee play around with this photo
Here’s a scene I’ll never get tired of. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve passed by Loch na h-Achlaise on the A82 on the way to Highlands or the West coast. There’s always something that makes me want to stop for a photo.
Camasunary bothy, Skye
I fell in love with this tiny wee bothy in such an enormous landscape. Camasunary is near Elgol on Skye, at the foot of Bla Bheinn, and right by the sea. Perfect!
We were lucky to climb Bla Bheinn on a hot, still, cloudless day this week. The munro is on the Strathaird peninsula on Skye, and gives stunning views over the Cuillin ridge on a clear day. This was one of my favourites – looking down over the Cuillin ridge, Loch an Athain and Ruadh Stac, with the path that heads out to Sligachan clearly visible.
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Bothy at Camasunary bay, Skye
At the foot of Bla Bheinn (Blaven) on Skye, there’s a cracking wee bothy which is maintained by the Mountain Bothy Association. The bothy is at Camasunary on the Strathaird peninsula, which lies to the South of Bla Veinn. It’s a completely stunning location. The bothy can be used as a base for climbing Blaven, and the Cuillin Ridge. We were surprised we didn’t meet any munro baggers on our short trip, but there were people staying in the bothy each night, despite it still being fairly early in the season.
We camped on the shore for a couple of nights, and took refuge in the bothy on the final night of our trip when the wind was threatening to collapse one of the tents.
you can buy prints of this photo from the Photography Scotland website shop
It was sunny as we were heading North through Scotland towards Glencoe. The clouds suddenly rolled in as we approached Rannoch Moor – it’s such an atmospheric place on days like this.
You can buy this photo as a card or print from the Photography Scotland website shop
This is a cracking wee shop just up the road from the ferry terminal in Tarbert on Harris. Not a touristy shop, but one of those increasingly unusual shops that sells all manner of useful widgets and things you can’t find anywhere else.
Looking across Loch Achtriochtan, Glencoe
I love the drive down Glencoe in the Highlands. The expanse of Rannoch moor changes abrubptly as as you pass Buachaille Etive Mor towering above the road. Suddenly the moodiness of Glencoe is all around. At some point I’ll be heading back up there with my bike, as there’s not many options for stopping in a car at the most scenic spots.
I do like the loch at the foot of the glen. This wee house must be endlessly photographed when it’s reflected in the flat calm surface of Loch Achtriochtan.