Photography tour in Scotland
30 Nov – 7 Dec 2019 Guided by Phil Buckle & Dion Hitchcock
Scotland has always inspired the spirit of adventure. Its rugged untamed landscapes, rich in history, have featured prominently in popular culture over the centuries. From the great literary works of Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson, to modern filming locations for Harry Potter, James Bond, and Outlander, the stunning visuals of this captivating land have to be experienced first hand to be fully appreciated. From Skye’s awe-inspiring geographical formations of Quiraing and the Old Man of Storr, to the sublime beauty of Glencoe, we’ll visit both the iconic and the hidden gems in this magnificent area of the Scottish Highlands.
From our starting point in Inverness, we’ll visit the romantic and stunning Eileen Donan Castle en route to the Isle of Skye, also called the “Magical Isle”. Impressive geological formations await us, allowing a glimpse into a forgotten time. Volcanic crags sculptured over millennia into unique shapes abound in Skye, creating many memorable features such as the dazzling turquoise waters of the elegant Fairy Pools, and the fossil-stewn shale beach of Elgol with the dramatic Cullin mountain range looming in the background.
Day 1 – 30th November – Journey to the “Magical Isle”
We’ll pick you up from your hotel in Inverness between 9-10am and begin our journey to the Isle of Skye, staying for 4 nights in picturesque Portree. Stopping for lunch to photograph one of Scotland’s most famous locations, Eileen Donan Castle, we’ll then continue our journey to Skye, photographing Sligachan Old Bridge at sunset on our way to our hotel.
Day 2 – 1st – December – Reach for the Skye
Today we rise and shine for the short trek to capture the sunrise at breathtaking Quiraing, which resulted from the UK’s biggest landslide way back in the Jurassic era. The combination of volcanic and sedimentary rock has resulted in unique formations and we’ll be there to capture nature’s golden light wash over them. We’ll then move on to explore the otherworldly Fairy Glen, a Quiraing in miniature, with its unique natural “castle” Ewan. We’ll finish the day literally on a high note as we gaze off the cliffs of Skye’s most westerly tip to photograph Neist Point Lighthouse at sunset.
Day 3 – 2nd December – Skye High
Today is our earliest start of the tour as we arrive in time to hike up to catch the golden rays hitting the Old Man of Storr, witnessing what could easily be a scene from Tokien’s Lord of the Rings. Although an hour of early morning hiking may sound daunting, it is more than worth the effort for our final view! We’ll have a relaxing rest of the day, visiting some waterfalls close by, and make a return to Eileen Donan Castle for sunset.
Day 4 – 3rd December – Fairies and the beach
Depending on the infamous Scottish weather, we may have a second chance at Quiraing for sunrise or we’ll have a slightly later start and head to the lovely Fairy Pools. Situated at the foot of the Black Cullins mountains, the crystal clear waters of the River Brittle collect in shallow pools and cascade delicately over multiple gentle waterfalls. Refreshed, we then head to the south of Skye to the stunning coastline of Elgol, voted as one of Britain’s most scenic beaches and exhibits an especially moody character in winter. On your way to the water’s edge any fossil hunters should keep an eye out as Elgol is famous for them.
Day 5 – 4th December – Skye to Glencoe
For our last day in the Isle of Skye we’ll return to the Sligachan area at sunrise to explore the multiple waterfalls upstream from the Old Bridge, with the craggy peaks of Sgurr Nan Gillean prominent in the background. Waving goodbye to Skye, we’ll head south, exploring the Glenfinnan Monument and the adjacent Glenfinnan Viaduct on the way. A stunningly picturesque structure built in 1898, the viaduct will be familiar to many as carrying the Hogwarts Express, being featured in the Harry Potter films. Unfortunately, the Jacobite Steam Train no longer runs during the winter months but should that change we’ll be sure to adjust our schedule. Even without the steam train it is an impressive sight! Then it’s onward to our home for the next few days, the jewel of the Scottish Highlands, Glencoe. Shaped by volcanoes and glaciers in ages past, Glencoe has a rightful reputation for beauty amongst landscape photographers. We’ll be staying at the recently renovated Kingshouse Hotel, right in the middle of the stunning scenery. You couldn’t ask for a better location!
Day 6 – 5th December – Glen Etive
After a sunrise at one of the many lochs that populate the Glencoe Valley, we’ll spend much of the day exploring the magical Glen Etive. Home of one of Scotland’s most photographed waterfalls, Etive Mor Falls has the beautiful symmetrical profile of the Buachaille mountain in the background. We’ll take time to explore the area as there are many composition opportunities beyond the iconic shot. Moving along the glen we’ll stop at the multiple falls along the River Etive, where we are likely to encounter some majestic wild red deer and also visit the area where James Bond’s ancestral home, “Skyfall Lodge” was located.
Day 7 – 6th December – Lochs abound
Today we’ll explore the many lochs and lochans in the Glencoe valley, along with the picturesque cottages in the area, accentuated by the stunning backdrops they reside in. As the weather conditions can change rapidly in the Highlands we’ll monitor the impact it has on our feature highlights, as the exact same scene can look completely different after some fresh overnight snow on the peaks or a recent downpour dramatically changes the look of the waterfalls. In just a couple of days it is possible to have a portfolio of vastly different looking shots from the exact same location!
Day 8 – 7th December – Return to Inverness
All good things come to an end unfortunately but we’ll venture out for one more stunning sunrise in Glencoe and take another journey to Glen Etive to check the conditions at Buachaille Etive Mor Falls and possibly say goodbye to our red deer friends. We’ll then depart for Inverness and drop you back in central Inverness between 15:00-16:00.
Phil Buckle is a professional landscape photographer, specializing in the stunning scenery of northern England and Scotland. Living on the edge of the Lake District inspired Phil to take up walking in this beautiful part of England and eventually, photography. Self taught, he quickly gained accolades for his imagery by being shortlisted for both Landscape Photographer of the Year and Outdoor Photographer of the Year in 2015. Phil has continued every year since to be shortlisted, plus commendations for his work in 2016 and 2018.
Along with having his images in several publications (including photographic guide books) and giving presentations to camera clubs throughout the UK, Phil has run workshops for 4 years. His knowledge, experience, and easy-going style helping to put fellow photographers at ease and improve their techniques whilst immersed in some of the most beautiful landscape locations.
Dion Hitchcock is based in London, United Kingdom. A prodigious traveler, after visiting 40+ countries he decided it was high time to learn about photography so he could better document his travels and quickly caught “the bug”. He became involved in several camera clubs assisting them running workshops and now runs his own, including in the UK, Iceland, and his home country of Australia. A qualified pharmacist, he’s now swapped helping patients and teaching pharmacy students for helping clients with both the technical aspects and artistic side of photography. Although an unconventional transition, he sees this as a natural progression as both of his parents are artists who instilled in him an appreciation of the beauty of the wondrous world around us.