Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Glencoe

Glen Orchy
The fourth area I visited in the Highlands was Glencoe.  After a week and a half in country I felt I was just getting started and being down to just a few days left I was wishing I had planned for three weeks instead of two.

Like each of the other areas, I had seen a few images that had really drawn my interest and I knew a few spots I wanted to visit.  Of course, images might be worth a thousand words, but being there is always better (and different).

The location that had really intrigued me was the famous Buchaille Etive Mor.  The mountain that sits at the top of Glen Etive where it meets Rannoch Moor and Glencoe.  The images there always looked wild and very interesting.  

There is a famous waterfall I have seen in several images and with a little looking at Google Earth, thought I had a rough idea of the spot.  I drove into the area, turned on the Glen Etive road off of the A82 and sure enough there is a little parking spot (by that I mean room for three cars) and 50 years away is the falls.  

I got there right for sunset.

It was nice.  Glencoe turned out to give me a couple of good sunrises and a sunset and ended up being the place with the best overall light on the trip.  It still rained a lot but I did get some nice light too.

I found there were a couple of camping options nearby.  The Ski Lodge at Glencoe Mountain has tent camping but it is just a patch of grass next to the showers.  Red Squirrel is down the valley but a proper campground in the trees by the river.  Being November,there were just like three other campers there.

After a good sunset at the waterfall, I did a rainy dawn at the Three Sisters.  From there I was off to explore the nearby Kilchurn Castle in the rain.  I had heard it was open but apparently not in winter as I found it locked.  It still made for a neat location to photograph in the rain.  On the drive back I explored Glen Orchy finding a very scenic waterfall with some of the slickest rock I have ever walked on.

I would do a few hikes in the glen and then tried a sunset down by the river right under the Three Sisters, again to just have clouds.

Finally on my last night in the Highlands, the rain turned to snow and I awoke to fresh powder on the peaks.  After a few early images of the Three Sisters, I made my way up to Buchaille Etive Mor for my last sunrise.  It was great!  Clouds, light, a little snow all added up to quite the send off.

I spent my last few hours chasing images.

Before I knew it, it was time to start the drive south.  I packed up, took one last look around and began the journey home.  On the drive, I began to already plan my return......




Sunday, June 11, 2017

Wilds of Assynt

In the northwest of the Highlands the land becomes a bit more open and the mountains become more single mounts.  It is a wild landscape called Assynt.  It was here I made my third location to visit in the Highlands.

While the landscape looked intriguing so did one particular place, Ardvreck Castle.  A ruin on the edge of the lake and fairly close to the road.  It is one of many castle ruins to see in Scotland but something about it kept drawing me back to looking at pictures of it.

The haunted castle on Halloween
So when I finished my days in Torridon I made my way toward the castle.  I first stopped in Ullapool for food, fuel and a hot meal (eggs with smoked salmon).  Then with restocked provisions, I headed north under interesting clouds.  There were many place I wanted to stop but I was drawn to the castle as it sits along the dark waters of Loch Assynt.

At first my plan was to stay for a few hours and then head back to some mountains I wanted to photograph, but the light was great and the castle kept revealing different views to me, that I stayed and stayed right to sunset.

Wild Country of Assynt
My plan had been to drive another 30 miles to the Scourie campsite but with it being here on Halloween and it being a supposedly haunted castle.....I decided to stay into the night and photograph it.

So here I am alone, under brooding skies, at a haunted castle on Halloween.

This is fun!

As the night swept across the land and the darkness set in, I set up to make images of the castle in the dark.  At first I was photographing the castle across the water but then I went up to it, set up the camera on the intervalometer to do shots one after the other.  Then I set out to walk around the castle in the dark occasionally lighting it with my flashlight.

Brooding skies and rain
I did this until the rain started and I called it a night, retreating to the dry of my tent with no ghosts seen.

The next day dawned with sun and rain that I watched near Stac Polly.  Standing in the rain watching a sunrise is such a Scottish thing.  A day then spent hiking in the rain.  I started on the trail to Suilven but the constant rain made travel tough and hid the mountain again and again.  I decided better to find drier places and gave up on a 12+ mile hike.  This is something I need to consider overnighting the next trip.

After a day in the rain I welcomed the chance to camp at Altandhu and a hot shower.  Cooking Scotch Broth in the wind and rain and falling asleep to the wind, rain and crashing waves.

Suilven rises in the distance
I spent another day in the rain hiking in the wild hills of the northwest.  From a few forested areas to boggy moorland, to small lochs, and fantastically shaped mountains, this had it all.

Rainbows, clouds, wind, rain, fall color, red deer, brooding skies.  I saw it all.

Again, I found it an intriguing area and one that needed more time on a future visit.

I wrapped up my days in the north thinking three nights in an area was just not enough time and I should have stayed for three weeks.