Scotland & The Islands (Some Of) - Documentary Photographer Manchester

Documentary photography of a Summer journey around north-west Scotland and the Islands of Skye, Eigg & Arran. I’ve seen so little of Scotland so this was a really eye-opening experience. Our first destination was the Island of Skye. Our route there involved a Loch Lomond pit stop for a quick dip and swim out to the island, narrowly avoiding the passenger ferry of course :) The scenery north of Loch Lomond along the A82 is some the most striking I’ve honestly ever seen. I’ve never been that much of a landscape photographer - I’m still not, but I’m getting better - but this was the start of me stopping the van every quarter of a mile to try my hand, thankfully Scotland’s roads are littered with lay bys for us tourists and our cameras. 

Midges Midges Midges

I hadn’t realised and even if I’d received prior warning nothing would have prepared me for the midges, on Skye in particular too. I learnt that applying repellent after they’ve already got a taste for your flesh doesn’t work and sitting outside whilst midges swarm and land on you is what I would imagine heroin withdrawal might be like. On one midge free day, we managed to walk up to a beautiful tarn from the Glenbrittle campsite with emerald green water and views down onto the coastline of Loch Brittle, plenty more opportunity to hone my landscape photography skills there.

Ancient Rocks and Ancient Games

Other Skye highlights would include a (midge free) sunset walk up to Old Man of Stor and the highland games in Portree. The cooler weather and intermittent rain meant we had the old man to ourselves. There was an eerie silence up amongst the ancient pinnacles of rock and the feeling you might get ambushed. 

Skye’s annual highland games take place on an outcrop of land known as the lump. The setting is honestly like something out of a fantasy film. There’s a circular area of cut grass in the centre and a raised area that encircles nearly all of the central game area where spectators sit & stand. Apparently, people come from all around the globe to watch several international competitors mostly chuck/throw a range of heavy objects across a field, I have to admit it’s pretty entertaining. There were many characters and unusual happenings to photograph here, I even saw famous documentary photographer Martin Parr there with his camera documenting the goings on.

Testing Them Sea Legs

The next stop after Skye was back to the mainland to a village of the west coast called Arisaig where we took a small passenger ferry to the Isle of Eigg. After disregarding my partner’s advice to keep a firm eye on the horizon whilst on the boat and instead reviewing images on my camera, I felt pretty nauseous for the hour long crossing. I perked up a little when a passenger’s dog began to wee whilst wagging it’s tail sending it all over a family of blissfully unaware passengers. 

With a population of around 130 people, Eigg is considerably smaller than Skye and considering its model for sustainability, self-sufficiency and community it’s quite a bit more interesting too. My partner had visited the previous year and befriended Dean one of the locals, like most of the islanders I met Dean was very friendly, really knowledgable and had some of the best stories going. We were without our van so we spent a night in our tent, we got upgraded to a vacant house belonging to a friend of Dean’s who was off the island for our second and third nights stay. Result! The house was in the neighbouring glen of Cleadale. The view from the surrounding hills into the glen were some of the most memorable of the trip. There’s an alluring sense of lawlessness to the Island of Eigg, throw in some beautiful landscape and welcoming locals and you’ve got yourself a winning island combination. I was really reluctant to leave and look forward to returning someday soon. 

Little Scotland

Upon returning to the mainland we set off towards the Isle of Arran this time taking a larger less nauseating ferry. Highlights on Arran had to be a trip up Goat Fell although I nearly didn’t make it up there after running out of energy, I was saved by a couple of dried figs. The ridgeline is really stunning with plenty of rocks to clamber your way along. 


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