The Journey Home

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That’s it! Times up! Time to go home. The last two weeks has flown by and all that’s left to do is pack and head back to the north of England.

The light and weather have been great with Skye especially having some wonderful weather. What initially looked like being a wet and dull week in the highlands, turned out to be rather wide of the mark forecast wise. The rainy episodes did have some positive outcomes – my interest in Chess had returned after a few years away. I even bought a Skye chess set and board.

There were plenty of favourite moments during the stay on Skye and in the highlands but the visit to Flora MacDonald’s grave remains a poignant one, almost an act of pilgrimage for those fascinated by Scottish history as I am. The sun coming up over the mountainous coast of Scotland during the first few days on Skye was also wondrous. Magical even.

So the bags are packed and the cameras packed away. I don’t know when I’ll be back (most likely not next year) but I’ll certainly look forward to seeing the misty mountains and dark lochs of Skye and the highlands again some day.

The image above is of the Black Cuillins mountains on Skye, an impressive and rather dark presence when visiting the isle of Skye.

Force Eight… or maybe nine

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The weather has closed in with reported winds at force eight or nine. Road signs, and even the locals, mentioned the coming storm.

The last week in Skye has been great. The weather managed to hold for a number of days and even the rainy days added a misty, atmospheric feel to the mountains and coastline.

The photo above was taken a Neist Point where a lighthouse resides on the most westerly point of the island. Nearby to the lighthouse is an area where stones had been piled up. Like some kind of memorial ground, these stones have been placed on top of each other.

No explanation was given so I assume they must be left by visitors to signify they have been there.

Home from the Glens

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It’s been over a week since i got back from my little trip up north and i still miss the mountains and lochs of the Highlands. My only conciliation is that i’m currently planning my return next year. The week i had up in the Highlands just went so fast. Far TOO fast for my liking so I’ll be staying two weeks next year.

Photography wise, the Highlands has lots to offer. If you are a landscape photographer then a trip there is a must. The history combined with the landscape offer the photographer plenty of scope for image making, but you need time for the weather and light to be right. Coming through Glencoe you could see the unique lighting that the mountain ranges produce. Light and shadow mix together to produce an extremely dramatic experience, yet within a minute (or even seconds) the whole show has moved on to be replaced with mist, rain or a mix of both. No wonder it was recently used as a location by the 007 film crew.  Glencoe really does take the breath away, not only through its dramatic geography but also its connection to a tragic event . Somehow the mountains convey the drama of the geography and the history of Scotland at the same time.

Like the Highlands, Skye gets into your blood. It was my first visit and i left wanting more. I’d seen just some elements of what Skye has to offer which includes travel to the Western isles. A trip to Harris or Lewis is high on the agenda for next year. I love travelling by ship anyway, so the prospect of travelling across the sea to Harris is just thrilling. This year’s trip was a kind of reconnaissance just to see what was there. I now have an idea of what the Highlands and Skye especially has to offer. Probably the biggest draw is the detached feel of the place. It did feel like an escape and i like that feeling. Probably the biggest example of that sense of freedom was the ferry waiting to leave for the Isle of Harris. The whole ship, like most ships do, became one big symbol of freedom, escape and adventure. Next year i will be aboard 🙂

The move down south went OK, but after having the Highlands as a backdrop, i found adjusting to the area around Dumfries tricky. I left the Highlands with a heavy heart and to be honest Dumfries didn’t quite push all my buttons. If the weeks had been vice versus then maybe Dumfries would have worked. The Highlands are basically a tough act to follow. One Dumfries shop keeper asked about where I’d been and i got the reply ‘oh we have it all here!’ Er no you don’t. The second week turned out to be a holiday week rather than a photography week. Enjoyable but I barely shot a roll of film the whole week. In fact i came back with just under half the film i took, with virtually all of the shot film being taken in…. yes, you guessed right! The place that begins with H.

Back to the Borders

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The only problem with going away to a place is having to leave it. Yesterday was the day to pack (reluctantly) and head south for Dumfries. I wanted to stay in the Highlands longer, explore further, take more photos but time had finally run out. It may take me time to adjust to a scenery without the high Misty mountains and lochs though.

So it was with a heavy heart that I headed down the southern Scotland for the second week. On the route south I passed the impressive Commando memorial at Spean Bridge. The statue features WW2 Commando figures facing towards the mountains that they trained in.

The memorial also has a remembrance section that sadly reflects the more recent Commando casualties from the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Darker Skyes

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The light today was fantastic as I went around the roads of Skye. To say that the isle is beautiful would be an understatement. I even managed to see a couple of sea eagles soaring their way around the skies of Skye. Big and beautiful, these magnificent creatures were well worth taking a break to watch them glide and soar.

As for the photo,well that fits perfectly into the blog name. The stone featured in the image was put there in 2000 to mark the millennium so it isn’t as old as it first appears. Personally I think the Duirinish Stone was the perfect way to mark the millennium in this part of the world. It kept things simple and in tune with the Isle.

It’s an impressive stone that reflects Skye’s ancient past beautifully. The old world still resonates strongly through Skye. You can feel it as you travel around.

Ninety Degrees

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The rain came in fast, moving across the expanse of water between Skye and Kyle of Lochalsh. Not that the weather bothered me as I took photos. There is nothing like a bit of rough weather to blow the cobwebs away especially if it’s rough coastal weather.

I did wonder if I was the only one to think it was slightly blowy so I was relieved to hear the lady in the nearby Lifeboat shop remark about how windy it was. It was heavy weather for everyone including the locals it seems.

Weather is, of course, an important component in photography and yet we often have the tendency to put away our cameras once the clouds darken and the rain appears. Keeping the camera out of the bag can often deliver rewarding results though a drying cloth is definitely something to keep with you.

The sheer speed of weather conditions means you have to be quick, though often you do see it coming and can add it to any landscape photo as long as you are quick.

So why is the post called ninety degrees? Well that’s the angle that the rain is falling at the moment 🙂