To say my second day on Skye started off cold would be a massive understatement. When I left the B&B it was – 4 degrees. The car was covered in a thick frost and I had to scrape the screens. To be fair, I must sing the praises of the windscreen on the Volvo. It has a barely visible electrical element laminated into the screen and actually clears the frost in a matter of a minute or so. Brilliant! My plan for the day started off with a visit to the Quiraing. The Quiraing is a part of what’s known as the Trotternish ridge. This is a huge land slide that stretches for 30 kilometres all the way to the northernmost point of the Isle of Skye. Apparently the Quiraing is the only part of the area which is still moving and the road at it’s base requires repairs every year. Arriving at the base of the Quiraing I was faced with a long steep drive up to the car park. This entailed lots of tight bends and I was mindful of there being a lot of ice on the road. One large patch of ice in the middle of a tight bend had me moving forward literally at a snails pace as the front wheels spun whilst trying to achieve traction. Finally the tyres bit into the asphalt and I was able to carry on to the top. Mine was one of only three cars parked there, maybe because it was so early and cold. Strangely, when I set off from the starting point of the Quiraing walk it wasn’t long before I came across a group of photographers who I can only assume must have travelled together in one car. I wonder if they were as disappointed with the conditions as I was. Don’t get me wrong, the scenes were fantastic but the sky was absolutely cloudless. I would have preferred more moody atmospheric conditions but nevertheless the place was promising lots of great views and I carried on to look for compositions. The following two images are my favourites from the morning.
The light was a little harsh and there was plenty of contrast. The walk was strenuous and slightly dangerous in places with icy patches underfoot. I was still feeling the effects of the previous days hike to Camasunary and back. I was well into the walk but not as far on as I would have liked when I looked at my watch and realised I’d been out for almost two hours. The problem was that I had only paid for three hours car parking. Consequently I had to set off back to the car, only realising when I got back there in a little over 35 minutes, just how much of my time out is taken with setting up a tripod and taking photos. I was annoyed with myself for not allowing more time but it just means that sometime in the future I’ll have to come back to Skye and do it all over again, not really a hardship is it?
Back at the car I decided to head back to the B&B and have an hour or so relaxing before setting off for the Neist Point Lighthouse which is as far west as you can go on Skye. Back in Portree I bumped into Nora (the landlady) at the B&B. She was as helpful as ever and I paid her for the extra night at a reduced rate of £40 by way of cutting out Booking.com. After an hours rest I set out for Neist Point. Once again the route consisted mostly of single track roads with lots of passing places. The Isle of Skye must go down as one of the wildest places I’ve ever been. Everywhere you go the scenery is incredible and there are tiny remote communities scattered here and there. As magical as the place is, it’s difficult to imagine actually living somewhere so remote. When I eventually reached the car park for Neist Point there were quite a few people there. The walk to the view points was a proper path with the choice of a concrete slope or steps side by side. It was so steep that when I moved onto the slope to let someone by on the way up, I almost lost my footing and had to do a weird little run to stop myself slipping on my arse! At the bottom of the hill it was a short walk to where I was under the impression that the viewpoint would be. Unfortunately it seemed it was going to be necessary to climb another steep hill. Having lurched and gasped my way to the top I was hit by the realisation that this wasn’t the view point I wanted either. 😭 I took a couple of photos anyway. I perched very precariously on the edge of a cliff to get those images and I’m including one of them in spite of the fact that this wasn’t the view I was looking for.
After taking that photo I then moved on to another viewpoint where there was a whole gaggle of other photographers lined up at the edge of yet another cliff. I politely asked if they minded me squeezing in amongst them and realised that this was the same bunch I’d seen this morning at the Quiraing. Once again the viewpoint wasn’t the one I wanted and even though I spent a good half hour there I didn’t get anything that I would consider worth including here. At this point I was ready to give up and said my goodbyes to the guys still there whilst all the time thinking I couldn’t really work out what they were waiting for as it was dark now and past even the blue hour. On the way back to the car I then had to climb the steep path which I’d almost slid down earlier. All joking aside, this really did almost kill me. You know that feeling when it’s all you can do to put one foot in front of the other, well, this was a real struggle. Thankfully I wasn’t the only one having problems as there were a number of (younger) people struggling just as much as I was. It was only as I got to the top that I realised there were still people with tripods set up at the top of the highest cliff off to my left. So, even though it was now dark I decided to have one last try to get my shot. Finally this turned out to be the view I had been wanting all along and it was all of five minutes walk from where I’d parked the car!🤬 This is the resulting image. Taken with a 30 second exposure which just goes to show you must never let a little thing like almost total darkness deter you if there’s a shot you just have to get.
So a trip I thought was a failure turned out ok in the end. The drive back to Portree was another matter. Single track roads in absolute darkness and endless miles of them through the aforementioned wildest country I think I’ve ever experienced made for a sphincter twitching hour plus long ride. Anyway, after getting back to Portree I spent another evening at the B&B feeding on pot noodle. The plan for next day was to make my way home and see what I could photograph along the way. I was wide awake at 5.00 am but didn’t want to leave so early. With sunrise on Skye not happening until around 8.45 I was hoping to go to Sligachan in time for first light. The problem was that when I drove down the A87 towards the Kyle of Lochalsh I managed somehow to miss it. I have no idea how, as I’d been there before on a couple of occasions so this time it was as if it had disappeared off the face of the earth. Next stop along the way was the Eilean Donan Castle. I’m cutting this ramble short as I’m sure you’ll agree it’s getting a bit boring. Here are the pics from Eilean Donan Castle.
There were a few stops on the way home during what turned out to be a 13 hour journey but only one which produced photographs I was happy with. Passing through Glen Coe I couldn’t resist revisiting the Etive Mor waterfall. I visited last November but this time the waterfalls were all frozen and although I knew it to be the same place, everything looked totally different. It was another one of those occasions where my fingers did their best to curl up into useless claws due to the excessive cold but it’s such a beautiful location I was determined to work through it! These are the two images. Lookout for the frozen parts of the waterfalls.
I drove 510 miles home from Skye and the only traffic incident happened three miles away from home when some idiot on the Small Heath bypass decided to overtake on the inside and cut in front of me a matter of inches off my front bumper. When I gave hime a quick flash to let him know I thought he was a wanker he decided it would be a good idea to slam his brakes on. A combination of me, and the car braking for itself led to me just stopping in time. Let me explain, the car occasionally decides to brake for itself thanks to it’s collision avoidance system so this time probably saved the day. It was quite noticeable approaching Birmingham that all the mental cases seem to come out of the woodwork in the evening and I’d just had an encounter with the king of em all. I wish I could say it made me glad to be home but alas, far from it!
I can’t help wondering at times if anyone is finding anything about these blogs even remotely interesting. I’m perfectly aware that they’ve taken a distinct turn towards more photography content. I generally fall short of talking technicalities which I think for anyone not interested would take the boredom to another level. I had a couple of great days on Skye which left me absolutely worn out physically. I often crave being able to disappear and do my own thing but in reality I missed having Lynne with me and I found even one full day of hiking and chasing locations alone to be totally exhausting. That’s not to say I don’t want to do it again but next time I think it would be a better idea to pace myself a little more. Over four days I’ve hiked roughly 15 strenuous miles and driven around 1400 miles. Thoroughly enjoyable but ultimately very tiring! Having said all that, I’ve already been home a couple of days as I’m writing this and in my head I’m already thinking about when I can do it all over again.