the journey

Well, i've been meaning to sit down and put some words on the screen to talk a little about my first trip to the amazing Isle of Skye back in March. Life seems to be going at a thousand miles an hour at the moment and i just never seem to have time to sit down and take the time to get round to it, so here goes....

Late in march myself and three friends including Daryl Walker (https://www.darylscottwalker.co.uk go check out his brilliant website), Royce Meckin and Dan Toal took a three day trip to the Isle of Skye, it actually felt like it took us three days to get there, to say it's a bit of a trek is an understatement.

It's a 8.5 hour trip from my home in west cumbria. So on our first day we left Royce's home further up the west coast at around 8am with a plan to be at Eileen Donan Castle for sunset around 19:00 that evening, that gave us plenty of freedom for stops along the way and no real time pressure with around 3 spare hours to kick about and explore en route.

We aimed to meet Daryl at Glencoe as he was coming from his home in the North East of England. We made some good time and arrived at Glencoe just before noon.  Our first stop saw us abandon the car in a lay-by and go to explore Lochan na h-Achlaise around 10 minutes before the main areas of Glencoe. Unfortunately the conditions were pretty poor for photography but i thought it may work well as a black and white, but it was definitely worth a scout for next time we go, so we grabbed a couple of frames anyway to check for compositions.

As you can see, not all of our images from the day were successful ha, but i feel it's just as important to share our failures as our 'success' because it doesn't always go according to plan. I wasn't happy with anything came away with from this lunch time stop off but it was invaluable for getting to know a little more about the area.

In the shot above is the The Black Mount (Gaelic Am Monadh Dubh) range of mountains stretching from Glen Orchy to Glen Coe. Black Mount extends over an area of boggy moorland 4 miles north of Bridge of Orchy.
From left to right peaks (i think ha) are Stob a Choire Odhair (945m), Aonach Eagach (991m), Stob Ghabhar (1090m). The Aonach Mor ridge is on the right. In the foreground is Lochan nah Achlaise.

We spent around forty minutes here before heading to meet Daryl at, arguably, THE most recognisable place in the area, The Buachaille Etive Mor is one of the best known and loved of all the Munro peaks. The epic view of the mountain from the main A82 road (probably the best road i've driven on) makes it appear quite unassailable and is, rightly, one of the most photographed sights in Scotland.

We quite easily found the little falls that you'll have no doubt seen during any search of the area on google, what did surprise me is that it was deserted when we arrived, albeit the conditions were now even less favourable for photography. Despite this it would've been crazy to not capture an image or two while here. Again, as with the picture above, i didn't get anything worth publishing anywhere other than here (another fail ha)

I was pleased that we'd paid a visit as it'll save time next time we go and we have a better idea of the best times of day to go and hopefully will have better conditions.

At this point we were joined by our friend from the other side (of the country that is) as he'd been distracted on a deer search. Daryl had a shot in his mind on (yes i mean on!!) the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct railway bridge, you'll probably know it better as the Harry Potter Bridge. This involved a 80 mile round trip detour but we were doing well for time. Unfortunately for us there were no trains running at this time of year so we had to make do with an empty track, i thought this was quite unfortunate but at this point i had no idea what Daryl had in mind. Myself and Dan made the climb up the banks surrounding the viaduct for a shot from up high while Royce and Daryl made their way up the side of the tracks to get a different perspective.

By this point my tripod had decided to attempt to end it's own life and fall to pieces on me, so i needed the nimble foot long fingers of the jolly giant Royce, as in his other life he's a master fitter ;) , to come to the rescue and do a bodge it job to keep me in action. As well as my 'on it's last legs' tripod, the poor conditions and just my general grumpiness after 6 hours in the car with a further 4 remaining (3 grown men in a metal box for any amount of hours becomes a tad pungent ha) i wasn't holding out much hope for the rest of the day. Daryl came to the rescue though as i'd given up on any sort of entertainment and made my way back down to ground level when i looked up and actually couldn't believe what i was looking at. 30 metres up on the edge of the viaduct was Daryl in his constant quest for the ultimate 'selfie'. I just managed to get the camera set and fired off this shot before he moved.

With my tripod temporarily alive again and Daryl still in one piece we headed off on the two hour journey to Eilean Donan Castle with zero optimism of getting anything special after the poor conditions of the rest of the day. The journey up there was absolutely spectacular with some stunning Lochs and Mountains lining the road at every turn, in the right conditions we could've probably made the whole journey last three days ha. 

On arriving at the majestic Eileen Donan Castle around an hour before sunset it was besieged with tour buses and other photographers as could be expected. they were lined up on the wall along the shore and there was people milling around all over. We had a little walk around for ten minutes to find our 'spot', then it was just tie to wait for the inevitable flop of a sunset.

I could not have been more wrong. Around five minutes before sunset every single bus and photographer other than us had deserted the place, obviously not expecting anything to change, the conditions looked distinctly average at best, but we'd came too far to leave now.

Just as the sun was about to hit the horizon, the clouds thinned out and the sky literally set on fire. The colours were by far the most amazing i'd ever seen and had i not seen them with my own eyes i'd have never believed it was real. What an introduction to a Scottish sunset it was.

We stayed here until around an hour after sunset and the sky was still burning up, but we had another hour and fifty minute journey to our digs at the north end of Skye, none of us actually had appreciated just how big the island was. We crossed the bridge on to the island in darkness and decided to call into Portree on the way to Uig where we were staying, we arrived here at around 20:45 and found a chip shop, we hadn't eaten since before noon so we were delighted, less delighted two minutes later to find out that the chip shop owners had ran out of potato : ( thankfully we managed to find a Chinese thanks to the lovely people of the co op, so we had a feed, stocked up on supplies (as were told that there was only one shop in Big and that wasn't always open) and started the last leg of the journey into Uig.

When planning the trip there wasn't really a huge selection of reasonably priced accommodations available for the weekend we were going and i'd eventually settled on a hostel in the middle of nowhere, we had no idea what it would be like, but making our way up the windy steep track in the dark to see 'The Cowshed' we were delighted. I would highly recommend anyone visiting the north of Skye to give this place a look, it was immaculately clean, pretty new and had everything we could've wanted and only cost us around £70 each for a 6 person dorm to ourselves. (http://www.skyecowshed.co.uk)

Anyway, that's it from day 1 haha, i really need to learn to write in a more brief manner and not like a talk, which anyone who knows me will tell you is pretty relentless at times. What can i say, i just like yapping away like a little terrier. It may take another three months to get around to writing about the second and third days of our trip but it may even take you that long to get through this.

 

Thanks again for reading and for your support of my passion by following my progress and i'd love to hear your thoughts on my ramblings.

 

Until next time.............

 

Billy

 

P.S Royce and Dan don't have websites so you can see their work on the links below

Royce https://www.instagram.com/royce__06/ 

Dan https://www.instagram.com/danieltoal_photography/