A Northern Adventure- A tale of 3 local photographers-Scott Wilson, Chris Newham & Ian Pinn

“Let me tell you tales of high adventure………..”

Our annual pilgrimage to the Isle of Skye

Friday 30th November 2012

Left Bingham at 7.15pm, how much stuff do 3 photographers need? Car is rammed with camera bags, wellie’s, waders, boots, tripods, and clothes, destination; Car Park, Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye, Scotland (up north). Sat Nav predicting 520 miles and arrival time of 3am! Wow, that’s a journey and a half. Scott driving (as always-bless him) off we went. Stopped en route for a drink, toilet break and bite (and fuel for the beast)

Saturday 1st December 2012

Arrived at said car park at 3am, an hour’s kip then followed for 3 weary travellers (especially the driver) awoke at 4am, clear moonlit sky welcomed us up the Storr. Togged up ready for the ascent in the dark, torches beaming off we went. Good start and onwards and upwards we went, the path was frozen but reasonably well defined and the steps upwards continued, and on and on they went, higher and higher, guided by the GPS. After about an hour the clouds closed over the moon and a blizzard blew up, visibility was well down as was the temperature, also the wind had started to get up, thank goodness for all those layers. Then it began to snow, at first it seemed quite amusing, that was until it was biting into your face and blinding you as well, ice on the outside of glasses and condensation on the inside adding to the impossibility of vision, visibility was down to a few feet and we needed to find shelter, which was a path with an overhang, we settled down to wait out the worst of the weather which was probably almost an hour. When we emerged it was to a breathtaking landscape lit by the moon, with snow as a bonus as well. Did some moonlight shots, Chris and Scott venturing up onto an exceedingly windy and cold plateau, We then waited for some pre-dawn light and started to set up, it was quite treacherous, the paths being very icy and with the added snow made it quite lethal underfoot. Chris had a touch of frostbite in his trigger finger and my knees froze up. Dawn came and a little reasonable light, Scott ventured up onto a precipetious ledge which allowed him the best composition, getting separation on the peaks of the Old Man, but like any other landscape adventure it was all about being there and experiencing mother nature first hand, stunning views and having ‘done it’ at night, in winter ,with very few provisions (this would change next time I’m sure).

So I started to make my way down as my knees appeared to be frozen and not doing what was asked of them so it was going to be slow going for me, Scott and Chris made their way down after about another 45 minutes or so. The descent seemed to go on forever, I cannot believe we climbed up so far! For me (at least) it was all about making the climb, with my dodgy ankle it was always going to be tough, but strangely it was not my ankle that was my problem, I did start to feel very unwell about half way up and even considered going back down, but Scott & Chris wouldn’t let me go down alone at night (didn’t hear them volunteer to come down with me either!), and I managed to push on.

THE GPS reported the following information;

Min Altitude 145M, Max Altitude 515M, so 370M of pure ascent, round trip distance 6.7KM, ELAPSED TIME OF 6:48, MOVING TIME OF 2:05, so a steep ascent over a short walking distance, no wonder my knees were playing up!

Once back at the car some hot Tea was consumed and we headed off for a late breakfast in Portree (11:30 ish) Café was found and a very welcome breakfast was consumed, we all warmed up and decided on our plan of attack. Many locations were previously sorted but you tend to have to go on the current weather and light, plus at this time of the year you can tend to shoot all day.

Feeling Tired!

Following breakfast we headed back down the east coast of Skye and stopped of at Sligachan en route, the Hotel was closed for renovation so no chance of a quick pint. Had about half an hour but there was not much water flow under the bridge so it was not as good as last year, also the light was quite harsh, I resorted to Infra-Red to try and rescue a shot or two. Decided to head off to Elgol for a sunset and a fair drive, you have to be in position by 2:30 ish as the sun sets very early (15:40), Elgol is ok though as you don’t have to do a hike from the car park, 5 minutes and you can be in position. Sunset was not amazing, some nice light but due to the enormity of the landscape it tended to be everywhere but where you wanted it. Packed up after sunset and headed off to find our B&B which was in Slapin, a village quite close to Elgol, so the location was good.

B&B was a small cottage not far from the shores of loch Slapin, approx 500M or so. Landlady was quite elderly but friendly and showed us our rooms, we asked for a key as we would be out early and back late, she said that she had not locked the door since 1963! Not much crime here then?

We showered and changed and headed into Broadford, for a pint or two and a bite to eat.

Sunday 2nd December 2012

Alarm failure (Ian’s fault), late up and found Scott ready and waiting downstairs. Headed out to Elgol for a Sunrise, the light was not good so we decided to move back and were rewarded with a spectacular sunrise over Loch Slapin, even a mackerel sky to boot. It was so red for a time and lit up the snow covered Cuillins. We had about 2 hours shooting and all tended to do our ‘own thing’ so hopefully our images won’t be too samey. Missed our breakfast window so headed into Broadford and the Co-ops chiller cabinet for a delightful (?) breakfast sandwich, Scott got the reduced price one before we even saw it, well he is ‘at home’ and speaks the language.


From Broadford we headed to Loch Cill Chrisoid, some frozen reeds in the pond (sorry Loch) and a wonderful backdrop kept us busy for an hour and then we headed towards the deserted village at the southern tip of Skye. We navigated the road as far as we could (probably further than we should have) and kitted up for a walk to the village, upon reaching an observation point we realised that we would not make it, it was too far to walk in the time we had left, plus a dark walk back as well. We packed up and made a hasty retreat to Talisker Bay. Parked in the village and what was supposed to be a 10 minute walk turned into half an hour, but oh boy was it worth it, Talisker bay is superb, with rocks, headlands, sea stacks, white and black sand and a superb little river that runs into the sea, same again we wandered up and went our separate ways and I’m sure we will all have some different images to show. Scott up to his nipples in the rather chilly sea, climbing the rocks round the Sea-stack, Chris and me more shore-bound but still being rewarded for making the effort. Chris headed to the right hand side of the bay adding shots to his “fractures in sky and sea” series. When the light did finally fail we then walked back to the car. Stopped at a local pub at Carbost and had a nice meal and a few beers, Chris drove back to the digs.

Monday 3rd December 2012

Decided to abandon Skye and spend our last night on Rannoch Moor at the Kings House Hotel, bookings made and our B&B sorted we decided to see if we could get a decent sunrise at Elgol. It was ok if not spectacular, had a couple of hours and went back to the B&B for breakfast. Packed and loaded we then headed south and a sad, sad farewell to Skye. Decided on a slight deviation to do some unfinished business at Stalker Castle, wadered up and headed out into the low tide water to get some foreground interest, whilst the light was ok it was not brilliant, gave ourselves a window of 30 minutes and were back on the road to Rannoch in budget. The weather was closing in on us and it was a bit chasing the light, we failed, got to Rannoch and found the location, headed off but the rain increased and forced us to retire to the bar at the Kings House, the things you have to do. Kept an eye (?) on the weather but darkness was also our enemy, it was clear that we would do no more shooting today. Had a few more Beers and made a friend in Sasha, a German tourist walking the West Highland way, on his own with a map he downloaded off the internet, I thought we were badly prepared. He was like a drowned rat and we had a good long chat with him whilst we explored the top shelf of the bar, very civilised.

Tuesday 4th December 2012

Scott rose very early and decided to do some more Moonlight landscape shots , finding it difficult to sleep after the top shelf encounter no doubt and wanting some fresh air to clear his head, and boy was it fresh. We packed the car and headed out for a dawn shoot at the River Etive waterfall, having explored it on the previous day we knew where to go. Had a nice couple of hours and went back to the Hotel for breakfast. Checked out about 10:30 and started towards home.

Stopped off on the moor for an hour or so with some great frost, mist & snow, very cold but hopefully some nice images. Headed home in earnest at about 11:30, it started to rain as we set off and continued all the way home.

Got home late afternoon, what a great trip.

Bring on the Isle of Harris next year.

Ian Pinn – December 2012

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.