Date: 02nd - 11th December 2016
Scotland’s mountain landscape is an unmatched fusion of rugged ancient peaks, glaciated valleys, atmospheric lochs, remnants of a once-vast pine forest, castles that remind us of a turbulent history… and, well, weather – lots of it. Photographers have learned to revel in its climatic unpredictability, but patience and a philosophical approach is often needed. The pay-off for being the principal target of Atlantic weather systems that batter northwest Europe is elusive and transient lighting effects and atmosphere that few places in the world can match.
One of the advantages of visiting in winter is simple: no midges! Anyone who has experienced a midge swarm in the Scottish summer will know just what a relief this is. Winter means short daylight hours, and (weather permitting) good light all day with the sun low in the sky. Should it be be cold, frost and snow may provide special photographic opportunities.
Our tour begins in the southern Highlands: Rannoch Moor and Glen Coe. Loch Tulla is a Highland jewel surrounded by burly hills, and bordered to the south Glen Orchy whose river has sculpted remarkable rock formations. From here the road takes us to the bleak yet amazing expanse of Rannoch Moor, home to hundreds of lochs and lochans, and flanked by mountains which (with luck) will be dusted by the first snows of winter. Glen Etive drops eight miles from Rannoch Moor down to the sea, and is a much-loved destinations of experienced Highland photographers for its waterfalls, mountains and granite details. Glen Coe itself is an epic sight of the Highlands, a dark place of foreboding, huge buttresses, spectacular cliffs, hidden valleys – and a blood-thirsty history.
Our next destination is the Isle of Skye. The ‘Winged isle’ contains the Cuillin Hills, Scotland’s most challenging mountains to climb, the craggy roots of a once huge volcano. To penetrate its heart takes committed walking, but fortunately well-made roads now lead to some wonderful viewpoints of the range from most points of the compass. Portree is the town at the approximate centre of Skye. Its pretty sheltered harbour forms the view overlooked by our hotel. The road from here leads north to Trotternish, a mountainous peninsula which, at the Storr and the Quiraing, is a fantastic, mythical landscape that evokes the Lord of the Rings. Skye is surrounded by other islands and also looks back to half of all the coastal mountains of the western Scottish mainland. Quite simply, it is the most spectacular landscape in the British Isles.
We return to Glasgow via Pitlochry in the Cairngorms. The journey takes us through the central Highlands, barely less rugged than the western highlands, but generally higher and with more rounded tops. The landscape is more sheltered, and wooded, and this was the landscape favoured by romantic poets and painters in the 19th century. It is still as beautiful today, but fortunately, easier to get to.
This is a Leading Lights tour which means that participants are limited to 8. This maximises each person’s time with Joe and Antony. The accommodation is all on a half board basis where evening meals will be included, the quality of the hotels are also higher than average.
Antony has always had a keen interest in photography and started taking photography more seriously in 2007 with the purchase of his first digital SLR. His short time with a digital camera makes his 2010 win of the coveted Landscape Photographer of...