Landing in Scotland late on new year’s eve (due to a delayed flight), my girlfriend and I made the drive from Edinburgh to Fort Augustus late into the night, arriving at our destination very early in the new year. We only had a day and night to explore the local area and catching up with friends, but we still managed to take photographs when the opportunity arose. Our hotel was right on the edge of Loch Ness so it made for some pretty epic views both day and night.
The second part of our trip took us through the stunning highlands west of Fort Augustus towards Skye. The roads twist and turn – passing by huge Lochs and open vistas, rapidly changing into enclosed forest sections, then back out onto mountain ranges. I’m glad we had planned to take the day to drive to Skye – we definitely made the most of the time, stopping to capture the views on offer in between dodging the ever changing weather conditions.
The Isle of Skye
As we approached the Isle of Skye it soon became apparent why it was originally called the ‘Cloud Island’. The small amount of sun that had been escaping through the clouds quickly disappeared as we drove north across Skye. The skies darkened and the light (or lack of…) made it feel like much later in the day. But the great thing is – it doesn’t matter one bit. Skye is every bit as interesting and atmospheric whether it is cloudy or raining or the sun is shining.
Winding our way north to our hotel, the clouds sat so low in the sky that they touched the mountain peaks – colours mixing together from the rain pouring down, making the landscape even richer and brighter.
By the time we arrived at our destination in Uig, the weather had softened, and the view of the harbour framed the distant village of Geary. The wind was making it difficult to take shots – hands slowly seizing up in the cold. We took a few more shots and headed inside to rest and cook after the long day.
The following morning we woke to pouring rain. If you want to see the island you have no choice, just get out there and get on with it. It rains all year round and you’re very lucky to have a few days without any at all.
Regardless, We set off for the small village of Carbost, to go visit the Talisker Whiskey distillery and a local restaurant that had been recommended to us. Wandering around the small village, you get a feel for what life is like on this island – you have to live with the elements – as we walked around, we began noticing more and more the signs of extreme weathering from the damp environment.
The following day, we were in luck – sun and clouds meant a perfect day for walking two of Skye’s famous destinations; the Quiriang and the Old Man of Storr.
A fair challenge to do both in the short day (mainly because we would be stopping to take photographs…). We woke early and drove across the north side of the island to start our day with the Quiriang.
It’s an epic walk featuring stunning views – rocks, vistas and near vertical drops are everywhere. The path winds along the valley before beginning the climb to the top.
As we crested the top of the Quiriang, the clouds parted, creating spotlights across the landscape from sun rays. This was a real highlight of the trip – one of those moments that was entirely right time, right place – we got lucky.
In the afternoon we drove south to climb the Old Man of Storr in the fading light of the day. The few days we spent on Skye were hectic in a great and exhausting way. It’s an amazing place to experience – if you’re into photography or not.
My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here; My heart’s in the Highlands a-chasing the deer; Chasing the wild deer, and following the roe, My heart’s in the Highlands, wherever I go.
— Robert Burns, (1759 – 1796)
Peter Clarkson is a graphic designer, having graduated from the London College of Communication (University of the Arts). In his spare time he is a photographer, documenting the many sights and stories from his travels.