Certainly Manalishi! I have been 4 times now, but still not in mid-summer or winter. I have been told summer can be crowded, but in Iceland THAT is hard to imagine. If I do decide to do the book, I feel I'll need a few more visits and at least one journey into the northwest fjords before I feel confident in the complete portfolio. Currently I have about 20-30 strong images and I would like about twice that before culling them into a book. I'm pretty ruthless when it comes to editing my own work and I won't spare the hatchet when it comes to a good solid book.
Originally Posted by manalishi
Thanks again Manalishi... that package I mentioned will be on the way soon.
Thanks again Bill,
Originally Posted by billschwab
thought the same, that Iceland can be crowed in summer, but thought wrong... it wasn't that bad, only a fistful of tourists..... I have been talking to several people and they said that they have a strong tourist decline, because Iceland is so expensive... Anway... wish you luck in your work! And hoping for an Iceland book of your work sometime, when you have been at the NW-fjords! ;-)
Bill, I started thinking about where to recommend, and came up with a list of the things I want to do over the next fifty years. Since you've only a few days, I've edited it down a bit.
First, a word of warning. The Scottish hills and countryside look quite tame, but can and do kill the unwary. Unless you have a lot of winter hiking experience and can navigate in featureless terrain with zero visibility, I would recommend staying close to the road or hiring a qualified mountain guide. It pains me to say this, as I have had some of my most life-enhancing experiences in the Scottish mountains, but they have also provided all of my most life-threatening ones. For sheer grinding strength-sapping misery, nothing can beat the Scottish combination of wet, wind and near-zero temperatures. The mountain rescue teams are the best in the world, but ask yourself how they got that way :-)
Second, the scenics. These are spots where landscape photographers tend to gather and gawp, often with road turnouts, and if the light is bad you can buy a postcard.
- Three sandy beaches: Achnahaird, Old Shore More, and Sandwood Bay. In the right light you will never want to leave. Achnahaird and Old Shore More you can drive right up to. Sandwood Bay is a four mile walk, first along a track and then across peat bogs
- A835 Roadside Romanticism: Ullapool from the main road (pullouts on both sides of town); Ardmair a few miles north (where the road does a sharp right); Looking West from Drumrunie.
- Coigach views: Drive the road from the junction at Drumrunie, round to Achiltibuie and on to it's end at Culnacraig. If you don't see anything worth photographing it's time to sell your cameras. On the way back, take the loop through Polbain and Altandhu and back over the hill to Brae of Achnahaird. Ditto. When you get to the top of the hill, don't forget to look backwards to the Summer Isles. There's a good wide pullout at the summit, with a short scramble up to a cairned outcrop with a truly superb 360° view. Finally, if you want some fun, when leaving the peninsula take the "Mad Road" to Lochinver through the dingly dells of Inverpolly and Strath Kirkaig: see the bleached bones of the German RV drivers who couldn't reverse.
Third, my favourite scenic places on Coigach. For these, you may need to walk a few miles: your call on the weather, but bear in mind that the path will be non-existent to rough. The numbers are map references on the Ordnance Survey Landranger 1:50 000 map, sheet 15, "Loch Assynt and surrounding area".
- Fox Hill (NC002119). A cheat this, you can nip up the potholed road to the microwave relay station from Altandhu. The road is easily doable in a family car in summer; in winter you might slip into the ditch. Great views in all directions (the shot in my first post was taken here), but for the Summer Isles you'll need to move to the higher, southern peak, Meall an Fheadain (NB999109). On the east side of the hill are peat cuttings and lazy beds that catch the dying light nicely, and stone and iron age hut circles if you're into that mists of time look.
- Rubha a' Chairn (NC008159). Looks down on the rocks of Camus Coille, with good views of the tip of Coigach and across Enard Bay to Stoer.
- Cnoc Mor (NC010145) the top of the hill above the tame part of the coastline. Similar to Rubha a' Chairn, but better views of the mountains.
Finally, places to potter. These are the ones that reward repeated visits, or a lucky strike in good light. Interesting geology, flora or process patterns rather than grand views.
- Achnahaird beach. Most people head for the shoreline, but the dunes, the machair and the salt marsh by the burn at the road end of the beach are a goldmine of abstracts.
- Rubh a' Choin (NC033149). Oddball rocks that have reputedly sent more than one geologist mad. The walk round the coast from Achnahaird is not too stiff, but the easiest way in is via Garvie Bay from the parking pullout near the cattle grid (NC039130). Further round is the old Salmon Bothy at the head of a hidden cove (NC028146), possibly the single most romantic location in the Northern Hemisphere.
- Reiff. The cliffs looking onto the bay of Camas Eilean Ghlais (NB965152) get most attention, but the west-facing rocks (NB962148) between them and the village of Reiff are more interesting to me.
- Faochag Bay (NB974173). The walking guides say it's boring and to cut it out of any walk round the coastline. They are right. Stay away. Dull, dull dull.
Last but not least, accomodation. There are lots of self-catering chalets and crofts on the southern side, as well as guest houses, B+Bs, a youth hostel and a posh hotel. Tourist offices will be able to tell you what's open and available, but I can't recommend anything specific. In Achnahaird, there are very well-appointed self-catering apartments at Achnahaird Farm (www.achnahairdfarm.com, call Marilyn Mackenzie on 01854 622348). This is where we stay. In the village itself the Greens have a lovely house to let (www.stacpollaidh.com, call Sheila Green on 01854 622340) but I think their log cabin is now gone. For more general local information and to order groceries to be delivered in advance, Polbain Stores (www.polbain.com) is a good place to start.
Have fun. Don't get lost. Don't try all the malts in one night.
Last edited by Struan Gray; 01-09-2006 at 04:05 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: minor mishaps
PS. if you don't have the maps handy, the Ordnance survey will let you see a small section here:
Click on the pink blob and you can paste the grid references directly into the search box.
that is exactly where we spent our holidays last year!! That area is glorious and I think it is a MUST for Bill to visit.
I exactly agree with all your proposals and have no better idea ;-))
So Bill, go on, there is no better way of shooting!
And: The first copy of your Scotland book is mine ;-))
Last edited by mono; 01-10-2006 at 01:28 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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Originally Posted by Struan Gray
I can't thank you enough for all the tips as well as the time you took to put this all together. I have printed-out your post and packed it in with my maps. I will begin plotting several alternative paths that I can take, but judging by your recommendations, I am heading straight for the north to begin. If there is time, I will wind down into more familiar places. I may base myself near Dornie or Kyle of Lochalsh the first night as my flight arrives in late morning. I don't want to drive into the dark and perhaps I won't make it that far the first day. I really can't remember how long travel between places takes as the last time I was there I was using my thumb and trains for travel. Now, with a car, you never know where I will end up! I have rented a pretty normal vehicle, so I won't be doing too much in the way of challenging drives, but I love to walk. As long as weather permits, I intend to try the Sandwood Bay beach. I read more about this place and feel it is somewhere I simply must go. Don't worry too much about my getting lost in the Highlands though. I have learned from my times in Iceland and life in general in northern Michigan and am not one to take the dangers of wild places lightly.
Thanks as well for the great link to the ordinance survey maps! I love these maps and will purchase new ones when I arrive as the ones I have are pretty torn-up after all the years. I'm sure a few things have changed as well.
Again... I can't thank you enough and will post back upon my return to tell of my travels.
Thank you as well Mono! I very much appreciate your help and enthusiasm. As I can see you agree with Struan, I will save that call for another time. I will be sure to post images to the gallery upon return... that is providing I do my job well!
Originally Posted by Mono
I'm glad to have helped. I am currently planning my own trip to Arran and Coigach at Easter so I promise I didn't have to think too hard :-)
The main, 'A' roads are fairly fast these days. Inverness to Ullapool is half an hour in normal conditions. The only problem is the 'high' passes at Drumochter, Slocht and under Ben Wyvis on the Ullapool road. These can be blocked by heavy snowfall, but they usually shut the snow gates in good time. I would recommend a basic winter car kit so you can sit out a night with a blanket and thermos, but you won't have to contend with really low temperatures.
The small single-track roads are often easier to drive at night becuase you can see oncoming headlights a lot further off than a car in daylight. On the other hand, the sheep always sleep with their backsides out on the tarmac, so you need to drive carefully all the same.
One thing however, don't forget to take some Velvia.
Velvia??? Isn't that some kind of cheese?
Originally Posted by roteague
Somebody, on the Analog "Black and White" Photography Users Group has to mention color.
Originally Posted by billschwab