Go north my son part 3
The next morning (I’d lost track of what day it was by then) I decided to head southwards with a view towards making the trip to Sandwood Bay.Firstly I would visit one of the small beaches nearby and then decide whether to go, once I had shot my first images of the day.
Polin beach is situated just to the North West of Oldshoremore and was a nice place to get me started.Another idyllic location with the bonus of some rather lovely light.As in so many situations like this I bumped into a local chap out walking his dog and he asked the standard ‘what are you photographing?’ question, it always makes me laugh.
Polin Beach study
After getting back to the car I drove the short distance to Blairmore which is where the car park for the Sandwood bay walk is situated.It was raining, not heavily but the old photographer procrastination kicked in, the trouble being is that Sandwood Bay is a commitment, if I start on the path and it hammers down the rest of the day but I can see nice weather a few miles away then that will be painful but of course that is the photographer’s lot, if you don’t try you don’t get.
So I decided to give it a go, after checking the forecasts which said the weather would break a little for the last couple of hours.
One word description for the walk to Sandwood Bay, BORING.
With the aforementioned boring walk behind me I looked down on a quite stunning scene and came to the conclusion that I would need days around here to just take it in and explore, I had a few hours but they would be fun.
As I don’t intend to write a part 4 I better be a little more concise with this entry as I still have a bit to cover so let’s just say, if you get the chance, do make the fecking boring trip (it’s been upgraded) to Sandwood Bay.My main concern was trying to put across it’s scale and in all honesty I am not sure you can but it was damn exciting to try.What a stunning place of natural and raw beauty.Hopefully these few images highlight this fact.
‘I’m gonna need another visit!’ – Sandwood Bay
Blue skies would not have been befitting of this place!
The walk back was fecking boring too, and cold and wet and slippery!
For some reason on the way back I stopped and took some images of the mountains beneath the stars.Quite beautiful.
Beinn Spionnaidh and Cranstackie under the stars
After a good nights sleep which I had definitely earned it was time to head for them there hills.Driving out of the village I was photographically seduced by the view of the Kyle of Durness at low tide with snow covered hills behind.Tidal channels are so beautiful viewed from some height, I wish that were possible back home!
Kyle of Durness
It was a lovely crisp morning and just a couple of miles down the road the camera was out again for views of the snow covered local mountains Beinn Spionnaidh, Cranstackie and Foinaven.On all my trips to Scotland I have barely seen snow at ground level so this was a lovely experience, perhaps rent a cloud could have sent over those white puffies but nonetheless I was a happy chappie.
View from the Rhiconich Road
On looking though the local maps during the evening one place nearby had intrigued me, the walk along the river at Rhiconich.If I could gain some height here it would hopefully give me some nice views of the mountains.The start of the walk was lovely, Arkle loomed large though perhaps not showing it’s best side and I decided to bear left and head to some wee hills to gain height.
The views made the trudge through the heather clad slopes worthwhile.Before me was a wonderful aspect of Foinaven with the bulk of Arkle as the ‘support act’.Good call Gibbo.
Arkle -not showing it’s loveliest side
It was a little chilly and a little windy but I stayed for a good hour before the cold started kicking in.Time to head to the car for a last light of day session with Arkle.
Having just seen it’s less attractive side it was time to see Arkle from it’s more famous angle, showing the wonderful scree slopes, though these are obviously not so apparent when the mountain is snow covered but nonetheless the mountain looked beautiful at the end of day, especially with a lovely alpen glow in the sky.
Arkle and alpen glow
The following morning it was back out on the mountain road to take advantage of the lovely winter scenes whilst the light and weather was still with me, frankly I couldn’t believe how lucky I was.
Rhiconich road view
This was probably my least successful day.A case of not really being in the zone, plus the weather gods let me down at the end of the day when I had found a nice spot for some end of day shooting.Nevertheless the walk into the area around the base of Arkle was a great experience and is there for another day,without a doubt I will be back to visit this viewpoint.
Nice but not quite what I had hoped for
Earlier on in the day I had shot a few images around the River Laxford which in a nice spot which I can only describe as a wee gorge I shot swirls of water which were forming wonderful abstract patterns and it was nice to see pancake ice, quite bizzare.
When faced with a quite bewildering choice of locations something has to miss out but I was determined to head east from Durness for at least one day exploring the area around Loch Eribol and the Kyle of Tongue.It wasn’t long before I regretted not taking this route earlier but this will be my place to explore the next time, perhaps based in the area, so I don’t have to do the drive around Loch Eribol every day,it’s beautiful but it would add some miles and time every day.
I had started the day with a brief morning visit to Sango Bay to get me started and to check how the weather would develop,once again it was looking very promising.From there it was the big drive around Loch Eribol, once I got to the head of the loch the camera was out for wonderful vistas, including the back of Beinn Spionnaidh and Cranstackie and further on a great view of the wee headland of Ard Neackie with the snow covered hills behind.
A start at Sango
Beinn Spionnaidh – gibbo uses 70-200!!!!
Ard Neackie and posing sheep
The rest of day was pure exploration,any images would be a bonus.After leaving Loch Eribol behind the rather brutal hulk of Ben Hope and the much more aesthetically pleasing Ben Loyal came into view.It is wonderful seeing these mountains in their relatively isolated situation, no other mountains to compete with.
As per usual the coast seduced me and I made a detour towards the lovely wee village of Talmine where I had a brief stop to check the map.On just this small drive along the Kyle of Tongue I had already seen lots of possible images but I decided to head to Port Vasgo for a walk along the cliffs there.A brief shower above the bay here made a rainbow appear that felt so close that I could have reached out and grabbed it, further walking along the cliff tops heralded more stunning views, the sense of regret that I hadn’t visited earlier was apparent again but I made some images and mental notes of places to return to.
above Port Vasgo
Kyle of Tongue
The end of the day was spent at a frozen Lochan Hakel looking across to the wonderful outline of Ben Loyal, the light wasn’t quite what I hoped it would be and the clouds thinned out somewhat but what a great looking mountain.
A frozen Lochan Hakel (which despite my biscuit intake took my weight) and Ben loyal
I drove the thirty miles back to Durness and never passed one car, bliss!
The final day, (thank god they all say, you do go on Gibbo, when you want to!).
The morning was spent walking the coastline of the Kyle of Durness starting from Balnakiel.The weather was a little grey with some definition in the clouds, not brilliant but not a disaster either.The first couple of hours were spent shooting long exposure images and trying not to bugger over on slippery rocks or fall into Geos.In all honesty I didn’t get anything I was particularly happy with but it was just nice being out.
After a brief visit back to the apartment for a cheeky coffee and a single digestive (😉 it was time to say goodbye to the wonderful beach at Ceannabeine where unfortunately my timing was just out as the shot I had hoped to get was thwarted by the incoming tide, never mind, I had some lovely images from this location.
The last hours of the day were spent at Balnakiel and it turned out to be a lovely evening.As you may know I am a happy boy among the dunes so I whiled away the afternoon shooting the grasses and sand and managed to do my best to break my bloody leg when I decided to jump off a dune like a small child only to discover that the sand was frozen solid, cue rolling/tumbling Norfolk photographer!
At Faraid Head there are some quite shapely sea stacks and they were my choice of location for the last light of the day,I made images from both the shoreline and from the dunes.It’s a wonderful spot and I got some lovely sunlight for just a few minutes, this place would look stunning on a really wild day.
Balnakiel / Faraid head
Obligatory long-ish sea stack exposure
On the walk back along the shore at Balnakiel I made some images looking across to the Cape Wrath area and it then hit me that the trip was over, the most enjoyable photographic trip I have had ever, without a doubt.
A Balnakiel goodbye
The next morning the trip back home through Scotland was stunning, beautiful weather all the way to Glasgow and then it piddled down.The highlight of the trip back was the incredible hoar frost conditions in the Cairngorm area, all of Hollywood’s cgi trickery couldn’t have bettered that,I didn’t make a single image, I just considered myself lucky to have witnessed those conditions.
Thanks for reading this, really appreciated