Day 3 (and a little of 4)
Well, it's been (yet again) over a month since i done my last blog, and what a manic month it's been, I've started my UEFA B coaching licence in the last few weeks and to say it's taking up a lot of time and head space would be an understatement, that being said, i'm never happy unless i'm learning or pushing myself in some way.
Anyway, on to the reason of this blog. Our last full day on Skye.
Following a non stop day on Saturday and not getting to sleep until gone 1am, myself and Royce didn't feel like a 90 minute climb up to the old man of Storr with Batman and Robin so we set our sights on Loch Fada, this impressive body of water sits in the shadows of the Old Man of Storr, so in a lazy kind of way we were still there.
We had been told that Loch Fada was very rarely flat calm and that conditions had to be right for a successful morning, so i wasn't overly confident during the 25 minute drive from the hostel.
We got the car parked at the side of the road and made our way down to the shore to hunt out some compositions before the dawn light began to show. The silence was amazing, I could hear nothing but my own breathing and footsteps.
I settled myself by the shore about 50 yards away from two little boats gently bobbing in the water, still no idea of the conditions to come but a little tingle of excitement building up, mind you that could've been the icy cold morning air on my nose.
I've never seen a place look so different so many times in the space of an hour and a half. From the dawn light to full sun, the scene before me just kept evolving into something different and making you notice more and more details each time the sun moved across the sky. I was mesmerised. Below you can see three images taken within a period of that 90 minutes.
From top to bottom: Pre sunrise Colour, Sunrise, 40 minutes after sunrise
As you can see, the conditions were very special. Every time i looked away the light towards the Old man of Storr changed again and revealed more beauty than was there previous.
Now, i can't talk about this couple of hours without mentioning a rather surreal moment. Standing on the shore i got chatting to a lady called Lynne Douglas, Lynne has a gallery on the Isle of Skye (https://skyebluegallery.com) and is a very talented photographer. We were just stood chatting about the area and all of a sudden the roar of a car came screaming down the winding road from Storr towards us, i may be exaggerating a little but it was like a scene from Fast and Furious (ok, probably exaggerating a lot) anyway, the car sped past our location and slammed to a halt, this guy came running down the bank like a bearded Steve Cram, he reached our position and (i'm 90% sure this is an accurate description of what followed) ran right through the middle of myself and Lynne and did a Freddy Mercury style knee slide while simultaneously (i think) removing his camera from the bag and standing the tripod up. It was hilariously intense. He didn't utter a single word for the next five minutes and i couldn't take my eyes off him. Once he'd got himself settled and got a couple of shots off he stood up and said hi. Turns out he travels up from Glasgow at least twice a week, that's a six hour journey and no mean feat to do it so regularly.
I had a shot in mind before i'd even gone there, and unfortunately i haven't shared it as i don't feel i did it justice, but here it is nonetheless, The road to Storr is a stunning sight and one i stood and admired for a good twenty minutes before heading off.
We had a little drive around the Storr area hoping to bump into Batman and Robin, but they were still busy up high (i think Dan was still trying to catch Daryl the mountain goat), we stopped a few times to fire off some frames and admire the amazing scenery in front of our eyes.
This made us hungry, so we headed into Portree and found the lovely little Cafe Arriba overlooking the harbour and tucked into a full english.
We decided to head back to the hostel to have a look at our mornings work and have a chill out for a couple of hours. While we sat in the lounge we looked out over Uig harbour and saw the most amazing sea fog engulfing the harbour. I grabbed my camera just a touch too late to catch the ferry breaking through the fog.
We decided this was too good an opportunity to miss so myself and Royce jumped in the car and went exploring, we followed the mist around for about and hour and a half heading for the Cave of Gold. Below are a few images from that drive.
We ended up stuck down a dead end and found the most stunning row of Thatched cottages in the middle of nowhere, i absolutely love these little houses and will definitely stay in one sometime.
We'd had enough mist chasing so headed down to find the Cave of Gold, although the closer we got to the coast the thicker the fog was. We eventually found the area after a half hour walk through some fields, it was a completely different shore line than any we'd seen so far on the trip, very rocky and rugged and unforgiving, we scrambled down the 50ft, steep, slippy and wet grass bank to the rock and had a play about for half an hour trying to get some shots, i really struggled to be honest, no light, lots of fog and i couldn't really find or execute a shot worthy of sharing anywhere other than here, but as you know by now (if this isn't my first blog you've read) i always share the shots i'm not happy with as well as the ones i am so here's my best of a bad bunch.
In keeping with my usual outings, i did have a bit of an incident, i blame my camera bag knocking my balance (honest ha) but on the climb back up the big grassy bank i got around 25 feet up and completely lost my footing, i started sliding down fast and just managed to grab some grass and a rock to halt my slide, when i looked down to see what my hand was resting in i got a bit of a shock, it was a decomposing seagull, the smell was hideous and it was all over my hand and sleeve. Royce found this hilarious, me, not so.
On the way back to the car i heard Royce getting excited and taking off towards the cliff edge, all i can say here is that it's a good job he's 20 foot tall because nobody normal sized would have spotted the fog bow over the sea, my very first, even got a hint of broken spectre too, compositionally it's not a great image but it's a brilliant memory for me to look back on.
The evening trip was planned to hit the northern most point of the island and the spectacular Rubha Hunish, this involved a 45 minute drive followed by a 90 minute walk. To be honest, at this point i'd have happily laid on the sofa all night but the fear of missing out made me get up and go. En route we finally found what had eluded us all weekend, the Highland Cow. We'd looked and looked and hadn't found any, but we found the biggest poser on the island so we had to get a shot.
The walk from the car to the location felt endless, what a beautiful evening it was. When we eventually reached the cliffs, i looked down and saw the steep path down to the peninsula which Royce and Dan were tackling and decided that after my seagull incident i was safer on the high ground for the evening, so myself and Daryl pitched up not he top of the cliff perched waiting for sunset, the colours over the next hour and a half were some of the most stunning i've ever seen, much less abrasive than usual and absolutely stunning.
In this shot below, Dan and Royce were right on the tip of the land and also present, i later learned is the 2016 Scottish Landscape Photographer of the year Nick Hanson (http://www.nickhanson.co.uk/index.php). Looking at the image on a full screen and seeing how tiny Nick looks just really shows the scale of this amazing place, the views he got looking back at us (unknowingly) are even more spectacular
The walk back to car in the near darkness took us around 70 minutes and by the time we got back the sky was still glowing red like a lava. It was an amazing night and definitely a place i want to return to and do a wild camp hopefully or some Aurora action.
That was it for the last full day on Skye. Back to the hostel for a well earned sleep.
No rest for the wicked though and were back up at 4am to set off home via Sligachan for sunrise. Royce had a shot in mind, i didn't ha. But myself and Dan carried on up the road and found a beautiful little loch with the most spectacular view of the infamous Cuillin mountain range.
That was the weekend over. I was a little gutted to be leaving this amazing place. It really is a different world once you cross that bridge. Amazing. The drive home took us around 8 hours and in all honesty we could've probably made it last around a day and a half, the conditions driving back were superb and so many stunning locations to see, but we were tired and needed our own beds.
Over the weekend i drove 998 miles, walked 20.3 miles and took 1876 images.
A weekend i'll never forget and thank you for allowing me to share it with you.
The next blog will be coming soon (i know, i say that all the time) and it will be from my night wild camping up at Sprinkling Tarn.