Landscape Group Trip to the Isle of Skye 24-30 March 2017  

The last week in March saw the Landscape Group’s most ambitious trip yet, travelling nearly 600 miles from Devizes to the Isle of Skye in the Inner Hebrides, and spread over a whole week to make the extended journey worthwhile.  In total, ten members judged the trip worth taking time off from work and family duties, in addition to Tim and Gill Ford Pier who were not able to secure the right week off work and who instead had their own trip the previous week.  Most of the group flew to Inverness, and thence drove to Skye in hire cars, while others drove the whole way with the intention of extending their time in Scotland.DG first rays

The location was ambitious, and so too was the weather.  Skye lies on the western seaboard of Scotland, and with mountains rising to nearly 1000m within a couple of miles of the ocean; it is noted for its fickle weather, often being called ‘The Misty Isle’.  However, the photographic gods were on our side, and for all but the final day, the sun shone from virtually cloudless skies, giving glorious sunrises and sunsets, and even the opportunity for astrophotography once darkness fell.  Additionally, a brief spell of snow during the previous week had painted the mountains white, adding to the alpine atmosphere.

DG sgurrWith such good weather, we were able to plan our location shoots with some certainty.  The Quirang and Old Man of Storr produced excellent subjects for a dawn shoot, though the latter entailed a steep climb of 400m in the dark, in order to be in place as the first rays of sunshine lit up the Old Man pinnacles.  Another early morning location was to photograph Blaven over Loch Slapin, followed by Beinn na Caillich from Loch Cill Chriosd.  At the other end of the day, Elgol, Talisker Bay and Neist Point lighthouse provided sunset spectaculars, the last with the Outer Hebrides prominent on the horizon.  The really hardy then returned to photograph the Old Man of Storr by starlight, though it has to be said they then spent a wonderfully sunny day in bed catching up on sleep. DG sunset Meanwhile, there was much else to visit and photograph during the day, both on Skye and the nearby mainland, albeit with less then optimal lighting for photography.  One shot which hardly needed any planning was the view to Sgurr nan Gillean and the northern Cuillin ridge virtually from the doorstep of the hotel.  All in all, it was something of a relief when the clouds finally obscured the sun sufficiently for us to photograph the Fairy Pools in Glen Brittle in subdued light.

This might have been a Landscape Group trip, but when Steve Hardman came back one evening with information about a boat trip to see White Tailed Sea Eagles, the group were unanimous in wanting to take up the offer.  Our sighting of the Eagles was brief, but very worthwhile to see such a rare bird, and afterwards we were able to photograph seals hauled out on rocks in exceptionally good light.  Many thanks to Steve for making this possible.

The week passed very quickly and with an early flight booked for the 31st March, most left Skye on the 30th to take in the area around Fort William and Glencoe before heading for Inverness.  Others started the long drive south.  Special thanks for the trip go to Sue Wadman for organising the flights, car hire and hotel, without which none of this would be possible. DG
Images by Dave Gray:  First Rays on the Old man of Storr,  Sgurr Nan Gillean from Sligachan Hotel and Sunset at Elgol