Old Man of Storr, Skye — Image © Peter Cairns
As the winter snows melt and the air slowly warms, April sees the Scottish Highlands flushed with the first growth of early summer. Birches glow green and the dawn echoes to the sound of honking geese and bubbling black grouse. But it is light and drama that we seek to capture on our Highland odyssey, ingredients that Scotland’s coast and mountains offer in abundance.
Our adventure starts in Scotland’s capital city where we shall whet our appetite shooting castles and monuments. We then venture north and west towards Skye, an island that needs no introduction. Iconic locations such as the Old Man of Storr, the Quiraing, and the wild beach at Elgol, will all feature in this no-holds-barred photo adventure.
There’s something about the coast and there’s something about islands. The sense of isolation fuels our desire to explore and experience ‘the edge effect’. The Hebridean islands off the northwest coast are very much on the edge. The turquoise Atlantic Ocean pounds the glistening white sandy shores of the islands, shifting and shaping the sands of the Hebridean Machair. Lewis and Harris are the two most northerly islands in the Hebridean chain, stretching for 70 miles and dotted with intimate rocky coves and endless white beaches. The Callanish Stones and rusting croft houses add to the melancholic feel of the islands.
From the coast we head inland to Scotland’s largest National Park, the Cairngorms. Tranquil lochs, rich woodlands and Highland cattle await as once again we venture out at dawn and dusk to capture the magical Highland light. Our tour concludes back in Edinburgh for a final city shoot.
Each day we shall assess the weather and make a decision on our plans for the day. More often than not, we shall venture out at dawn returning for a late breakfast before relaxing for a few hours. In the early afternoon, we shall embark on our main shoot for the day and light willing, we shall shoot through until sunset. Our programme will be flexible, taking account of weather and light but what we can promise is an action-packed 11-days full of superb photographic opportunities.
Images © Peter Cairns
Day 1: April 16
We arrive in Edinburgh and settle in after our journey. After introductions and a welcome dinner, we venture out for our first shoot at twilight taking in some of the Capital’s most iconic landmarks
Overnight Premier Inn (Newbridge) Edinburgh
Day 2: April 17
Following a dawn shoot to capture the sunrise over the City, we enjoy a late breakfast before breaking camp and heading north towards the Isle of Skye. Travelling through Glencoe we arrive at Elgol for late afternoon, a rocky shoreline with magnificent views over the brooding Cuillin range.
Day 3/4: April 18/19
Skye is an island of cascading rivers, jagged mountains and must-see landmarks. Our time here will incorporate the classic viewpoints of Quiraing and the Old Man of Storr but we shall also incorporate the spectacular Eilean Donan Castle as well as quaint fishing harbours. Rest assured, we’ll leave no photographic stone unturned on this most impressive of Scottish islands.
Day 5: April 20 – Following a final dawn shoot and a hearty breakfast we wind our way to the ferry to transfer to North Harris before checking in and enjoying an evening shoot at the famous Callanish Stones, one of the best-preserved stone circles in the UK.
Day 6/7: April 21/22
During our time on Harris and the neighbouring Lewis, we shall make several visits to the exquisite and ever-changing tidal bay of Luskentyre, just a short drive from our base. Horgabost and Seilebost, as well as Scarista all provide golden sands, turquoise seas and brooding skies, again, all close to home.
Further north we explore the intimate beaches and dramatic seascapes of western Lewis where rock stacks and natural arches jut out into the Atlantic against a backdrop of raging seas and fiery sunsets. Along the way we'll keep an eye out for photogenic croft houses and derelict ruins, all part of the cultural landscape in this western outpost.
Day 8: April 23
After a final dawn shoot and a late breakfast, we check out of our accommodation. Before leaving Harris, we will enjoy a final photographic session, exploring windswept beaches and intimate coves, before our ferry leaves for Ullapool taking us back to the mainland. We take photographic opportunities en-route before arriving in the Cairngorms for our evening meal.
Day 9/10: April 24/25
At dawn we explore local lochs and rich forests. We will photograph our very own private herd of highland cattle (up close and VERY personal) and we have arranged private shoots with a local piper and gamekeeper – both great characters with lots of stories to tell. One of our evening shoots will include a floodlit Ruthven Barracks against a brooding Scottish sky!
Day 11: April 26
After our final shoot we start our journey back towards Edinburgh. Depending on time and weather we may visit a quaint fishing village en-route before once again capturing the magic of the Capital in the fading light of early evening.
Overnight Premier Inn (Newbridge) Edinburgh
Day 12: April 27
We enjoy our final breakfast together before farewells and transfers to the airport.
Tour dates: 16-27, April 2018
Tour Deposit: $1,000
Single Supplement: $1,200
Max Group Size: 10 (a small-group supplement will apply for a group of 8 - 9)
FULL — WAITING LIST ONLY
Guides: Jeremy Woodhouse plus UK guide
Dramatic coastal and mountain scenery photographed at dawn and dusk; forests, lochs and natural details; castles, monuments, cityscapes and local ‘characters’; highland cattle.
Two well-appointed, comfortable minibuses with plenty of luggage space.
Good quality, wholesome food is assured throughout the tour. Breakfast and dinner will be taken at our accommodation with packed lunches taken in the field. We can almost always accommodate specific dietary requirements - just tell us on the booking form and we’ll make sure you get what you want.
Expect a mixed bag with both sunshine and rain (or even snow). Weather is very changeable and it can be windy in exposed locations. Temperatures are likely to range from 0c to +20c.
Level of fitness
Most activities will involve only short walks but you will at times be working on exposed, uneven ground, including cliffs. You should be sure-footed with good balance. The Old Man of Storr on Skye requires a higher level of fitness. Leaving in the dark to arrive on site for first light, the ascent is 1000ft. over 1 mile on a rocky path. Of course these more demanding excursions are optional and although we will be working in some places with uneven terrain, overall a reasonable level of fitness and agility will allow you to participate in most activities.