Welcome to the Scotland 360° Photoblog. Accounts of great trips out, with photography of some of Scotland's wild and scenic places are laid out below and on the linked pages. Enjoy the narrative and the images and I hope these inspire you.
The galleries on this page display the photographs of each of the days out. Either scroll through with your mouse or click on an image to enlarge it..
To see the full account, and with high resolution images of selected photography, please follow the "read the rest of this entry" link to read about and to view the full entry.
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A day out on the hills, just after New Year. Beinn Enaiglair sits just above Braemore Junction between the Fannaichs and Beinn Dearg.From a golden sunrise through to long distance views to the surrounding snow capped peaks, this was a great day out. It was hard going on the way up as the snow crust frequently gave way underfoot, but the views from the top more than made up for the effort.
May Bank Holiday weekend and a plan that had been several months in the making... Fliss, Viv and Rob had booked on a Scotland360° "High Mountain" photography weekend, with the aspiration to see and to photograph the sunset and the sunrise from a mountain top in North West Scotland.Our luck was definitely in!. With sunset views and pastel colours over the Assynt hills and across the Minch; some six hours later the sun rose as a vivid ball of fire over Ben More Assynt. The blog post tells the story...
Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team has a training exercise every month, with different themes according to the skills and practices which are needed for team members. Each year, we try to have a training day with the HM Coastguard helicopter based in Dalcross, just outside Inverness and last Sunday was an oportunity to train with the crew of the search and rescue helicopter.
There always seems to be one January weekend each year with clear skies and glorious sunshine, often associated with mists and inversions. For 2017, the 21st January was just such a day on such a weekend. We were itching to get out in the sea kayaks again and the forecast for the weekend was looking great.I've wanted to paddle around the Tarbat Ness peninsula for a while now and here was the opportunity for our first paddle of 2017. Tarbat Ness lighthouse is one of the Stevenson lighthouses, the second tallest in the UK and it sits on the driest place in Scotland.
A wander up to Knockfarrel the other day, provided an oportunity to photograph a few panoramas including a "gigapixel" or high resolution of Ben Wyvis. The day was stunning but extremely cold and, having packed up the camera kits, a couple of guys with paragliders started to set up for a flight. Chatting to them, the wind wasn't ideal but their plan was to launch off Knockfarrel and head for Fodderty - a short flight given the wind conditions.
Tarbat Ness - a great place to visit in almost any weather. The forecast for the day was sunny spells, showers and a bracing Force 4 to 5 so a morning trip was definitely in order.Tarbat Ness has a number of distinctions. The meeting point of the Moray Firth and the Dornoch Firth, the lighthouse warns shipping of the headland. Built is 1830, the lighthouse is a Stevenson lighthouse and, at 53m high, is the third tallest lighthouse in the UK. Tarbat Ness also has the claim to being the driest place in Scotland, whilst just down the road, Inver is one of the few (the only?) east coast beach to face west.A selection of photographs from the morning are presented below demonstrating the power of the sea and the quality of the light.
School half term and a family holiday in the beautiful East Neuk of Fife saw us exploring a number of the local sights. One of the great finds for a particularly wet day was St Andrews Botanic Garden. Originally part of the University, the gardens are now run by a charitable trust and make for a great day out. The highlight for 2016 is the new "Tropical Butterfly Experience" in one of the glasshouses, where visitors can enjoy the interaction with tropical butterflies including Swallowtails, Moon moths, Tailed Jays, Zebra Wings and many others.The collection of images below are a game of two halves. From the ornate Bird of Paradise flower, the temperate plants and the delicate colours and forms of butterflies, I also enjoyed the patterns and forms of nature in the cactus plants in the succulents glasshouse.Enjoy the photographs - many of the butterfly images were captured on my smartphone as my SLR decided to steam up on entering the humidity of the Butterfly Experience!
Loch Gu Loch is an endurance swimrun event now in its second year.Starting from Urquhart Castle, the swimmers cross Loch Ness at first light, heading for Fort Augustus via the south side of Loch Ness. With 13 swim sections totalling 8km of swimming and 47km of running in between, this is a real feat of endurance.For the last few years I have been part of the safety team providing cover for swimmers for events such as this. Sea kayaks can provide close cover safety and this year I was stationed at Loch Duntelchaig and Loch Tarf.
The selection of photographs below were taken from my sea kayak and give a flavour of the event from the kayakers point of view!
"....Angus Mackie and Gordon Brown laid on calm reflective seas and warm sunshine as they taught us about kayaking photography. Superb days with lots of fun and learning.
My gear is all dried and put away and I have now had a chance to reflect on our 3 days. I really enjoyed our time together and I felt I learnt a lot about photographing kayaking and scenery from a kayak. Angus and Gordon were such entertaining and instructive coaches and everyone was such good company. I think I will need to renew my acquaintance with Kyle Rhea sometime soon to see if I can master a low brace turn without requiring a snorkel! I am itching to to try some of Angus's suggested editing techniques and maybe even a stitched panorama...."
Richard BottJust one of the comments from this year's Scotland360° / Skyak Adventures sea kayaking photography course. To see more of the photography, discover some of the secrets behind successful photography from a sea kayak and enjoy the highlights from the three days, please read on....
This year saw the second Scotland360° sea kayaking photography course run for SSKEG, based at Benderloch and Appin. Building on the success of last year, this course was once again designed to allow everyone to produce great results from their cameras whilst sea kayaking and to get the best out of their own photography.
Continuing with the castles theme from 2015, I chose the wonderfully scenic venue of Castle Stalker in Port Appin which provided a focal point of interest as well as a landing spot on the neighbouring island. This allowed time on shore as well as in kayaks, to cover composition, lighting, action shots, technical use of the camera as well as making time to review the output.
The Sandaig Islands have been on my kayaking bucket list for quite some time now. Situated at the southern end of the Kylerhea narrows, overlooking Skye and Glenelg, Sandaig is the setting for Gavin Maxwell's classic tale, "Ring of Bright Water", his story of living with otters on a secluded and remote corner of Wester Ross.
Tania and I had a few days on Skye and and the conditions were looking perfect for a paddle from Kylerhea to Sandaig and back again.... The forecast was settled, the tides were in our favour and we had the company of a couple of other paddlers - George from Greece and Roar from Norway.
As we were on Spring tides, the flow in Kylerhea was up to its maximum and we were fortunate to have the advantage of the south-going stream on our way down to Sandaig. Running at up to 8 knots on spring tides, this is quite a useful conveyor belt. With a leisurely stop for lunch and time to explore the islands for a while, our plan was then to pick up the north going stream which would assist us back up to Kylerhea once more.
Launching from the ferry slipway at Kylerhea, we had clear blue skies, wall to wall sunshine and no wind. The conditions were definitely in our favour.
The weekend of 5th and 6th September was one of fun and photography at Castle Tioram and Strontian. I ran the first SSKEG photography weekend which proved to be both popular and successful.
Take nine very capable sea kayakers armed with a variety of cameras, add in the scenic location of Castle Tioram and Loch Moidart and top it with a weekend blessed with great light for photography and the result was just short of 2000 photographs. Still water and great backdrops, moving water for action, bouncy water for fun… Oh, and did I mention that there was a great deal of fun and laughter as well?
Closer to Norway than Aberdeen, Shetland has long been on my bucket list. Tania and I had planned a week's sea kayaking trip for nine of us and there were many trips on the itinerary. With good weather and great company, we were fortunate to explore some of the classic sea kayak journeys on Shetland.
Skelda Voe, the Isle of Vaila, Mousa Island and Mousa Broch, a circumnavigation of Papa Stour, exploring the tunnels and caves of Esha Ness and finally, an evening trip out to The Drongs - all made for a great week and in good company.
In April of this year, Skyak Adventures and Scotland360° ran our first sea kayaking photography course.
Sea kayaking offers great ways of accessing and exploring some of the most scenic coastlines and photographic locations in Scotland and our course offers a unique blend of practical instruction in photography both on and off the water, as well as tailored sea kayak coaching from Gordon Brown, the UK's foremost sea kayak coach.
No technical photography skills are required; this is a course for participants to learn to produce great results from their cameras whilst sea kayaking and to get the best out of their own photography.
Our last day of the Easter holidays on Skye was to be one to remember. Having had a great day out in Loch Bracadale with Pete the day before, our conversation now turned to the subject of open crossings. We were keen to explore more of Skye and the islands of Fladda-chuin to the north were fast becoming the target.
The weather forecast was looking good with the winds dying down to around Force 1 or 2 and the conditions becoming very favourable. On the basis of such good conditions, we hatched a plan to take in the islands of Eilean Trodday, Fladda-chuain and Gaeilavore to the north of Rubha Hunish. As the furthest north headland on Skye, Rubha Hunish juts out into the Minch with the effect that the tide sweeps around the point. Sound and careful planning is therefore required to take advantage of the tides and not to be caught out in the strong tidal streams.
In 2014, we were long term students for Giles Trussell in his successful bid to attain his BCU Level 5 Coaching Award. As one of his objectives, Giles prepared Tania and me for our 4 Star Leader qualification which we successfully completed.
Pete Gwatkin, another Level 5 aspirant has now picked up the baton from Giles and we are now going through the same process with Pete.
The plan for the next couple of days was to get out with paddling with Pete using Skye as our base. This was an opportunity to get to know each other and simply to enjoy a paddle after the 4 Star preparations of the previous few months.
We were all keen to go some some biggish days and there were certainly plenty of options. Top of the list for the first day was Loch Bracadale on the north west coast of Skye. Planning to launch at Harlosh, the route took in Harlosh Island, Wiay and Tarner Island. With a start and end point at the same place, the logistics were fairly simple.
Following a week of concentration and working hard for our 4* sea kayak assessment, Tania and I still had a further week of holiday to enjoy, out on Skye. The weather had been windy and stormy at the start of the week but as it abated, we started to make some sea kayaking plans. It was time to relax and have some fun...The plan was to launch at Isle Ornsay and head over to the Sandaig Islands, the setting for Gavin Maxwell's "Ring of Bright Water". The sun was out and the day was dry, but the wind was still stronger than we would have liked.
Clear, calm weather on the west and a phone call from my pal, Tom Tindale saw us catching up for a paddle together. We settled on a plan which took us from Kyle of Lochalsh, northwards to Plockton, exploring the coastline and the many skerries along the way.
Leaving a very dark and misty Black Isle, as the day dawned, the weather on the west certainly seemed to be a good deal better. We shuttled cars and boats and decided that Kyle to Plockton would be the better option, given tide, wind and light. The light was crystal clear and the views to the surrounding hills, coast and islands were stunning. 17km later and having had a great day out, we pulled into Plockton just as the sun was now setting below the surrounding hills.
Over the course of the summer, Tania and I were long term students for Giles Trussell of Glenmore Lodge, in his bid to gain his Level 5 sea kayaking qualification. We had been involved over the summer in a series of really useful coaching sessions with Giles and now, a few weeks away from his assessment, we decided we would have three days in the Oban area.
On the agenda were rough water handling and rescues, moving water and general refinement of all the skills which Giles had passed on to us in the preceding months. On day two of the trip, we decided to go on a journey. The wind was a good Force 5 to 6 from the south and it gave us an oportunity to kayak in some decent conditions and have some fun. Setting off from the head of Loch Feochan (just south of Oban), we intended to paddle down the loch, across the 2km stretch of open water to Glyen at the south end of Kerrera, up the Sound of Kerrera to Oban and from there, round to Connel via Ganavan.
A great Autumn paddle with the Scottish Sea Kayaking E-Group, joining the development weekend on Skye. Launching from Elgol, we paddled along the shores of Loch Scavaig, enjoying the spectacular views into the majestic Cuillin Hills.
Heading initially for Camasunary, we then turned towards Coruisk and Loch na Cuilce. From there we paddled along the western shores of Loch Scavaig, heading for Soay, the setting for Gavin Maxwell's basking shark fishery of the 1940's. Stopping to explore Soay harbour and the site of the shark fishery, we then set off back along the Soay Sound and, leaving the shelter of Soay itself, had a 5km open water crossing back to Elgol and a well deserved meal at Cafe Sia in Broadford later on that evening.
This was an area of the coast I had long wanted to explore by sea kayak. The day, the conditions and the company all combined to make this a classic day out and a journey to remember.
Saturday 14th September saw a very successful Open Day for the Inverness Canoe Club. Held at Loch Achilty, this was an opportunity for club members and prospective members to find out more about paddling and the wide ranging activities of the Canoe Club.
Sea kayaks, river kayaks and open canoes were arranged along the banks of the loch and there was lots of opportunity to "come and try". A barbeque, demonstrations of "how to pack a sea kayak" and bushcraft activities for children were all supporting activities to some great paddling and new experiences under the watchful eyes of the Inverness Canoe Club coaches.
Mounting a tiny point of view camera in a tree overlooking the launch site and setting it to trigger every 10 seconds provided a great timelapse sequence. Several hours and some 1500 images later, the result can be seen below.
View in high resolution by selecting the appropriate Quality in the Settings menu. Full screen viewing is also possible.
Tania and I had the opportunity in July to join one of the Skyak Adventures sea kayaking trips to St Kilda. Led by Gordon Brown, this is a must on any sea kayaker's "to do" list. I have been to St Kilda several times before, but this trip had the promise and all the ingredients of being somewhat special!
Based on board the MV Cuma for a week, we kayaked every day exploring firstly the island of Scarp and then, for the highlight of the week, four great days out on St Kilda. Our other fellow explorers were a great bunch and, to top it all, the weather went from wild, wet and windy, almost overnight to being sunny, warm and glorious.
The essential ingredients all combined to provide us with an amazing trip, fantastic company, great conditions when we needed them, awesome sea kayaking, and stunning scenery on the archipelago of superlatives. The views of the islands and the wildlife are unique from a sea kayak and whilst on any visit to St Kilda, the weather plays a large part in determining just how accessible the islands are, we were genuinely lucky to be able to kayak every day, exploring every island, every stac and almost every cave during our four days on St Kilda.
With so many photographs to share, I have divided the trip into the respective days and posted these as separate pages and I hope you enjoy them.
360° aerial panoramas have now come together very nicely. They have taken a while to figure out but the first examples are now posted and I'm very pleased with the results. The cold weather has reduced the useful battery life in the quadcopter down to around 5 minutes and so getting the photographs was a bit of a race against the clock!! Consequently I wasn't hovering as high as I might but I estimate that the quadopter was around 30m up in the air. Hopefully the warmer weather in the summer and better light will enable me to compile a number of dramatic examples from a higher altitude. Watch this space....
I have spent the last few months teaching myself how to fly a quadcopter. As anyone who has dabbled in this hobby will tell you, it's very addictive and there's a real sense of fun and satisfaction from steering a remote control "drone" and photographing the views from it. It's another example of how widely photography can be applied just with a little imagingation!!
Last Friday saw me on the local football pitch with quadcopter and point of view (POV) camera mounted from the fuselage. These cameras are fantastic bits of kit and should be part of every photographer's armoury. The ability to shoot video, stills and timelapse makes them particularly versatile.
I'll admit that the quadcopter is a bit of fun, but it's also opened the door to some otherwise unusual perspectives. It's heavy on batteries but high on enjoyment factor and so I'm still working out how to maximise the 8 or so minutes per battery for best photographic effect. Sending it high aloft is a particularly big drain on the battery but, as you will see, gives some great perspectives. This 360° panorama of my local village was obtained by stitching together a number of screen grabs from the onboard video.
Each year, the Great Wilderness Challenge takes place in one of Scotland's wildest areas; a gruelling endurance sporting event which, over the last 27 years, has raised just under £2.5 million pounds for charity. The large entry of walkers and runners are assisted by many volunteers; organisers, marshalls and safety support teams. Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team provides safety cover for the 25 mile route from Corrie Hallie at Dundonnell, through the hills to Poolewe; a distance of some 25 miles. Two way radios allow the team members at checkpoints to communicate with each other, relaying information and progress reports. We provide a radio link from the summit of Ruadh Stac Mhor which ensures that team members can communicate along the length of the route and with each of the checkpoints. Ruadh Stac Mhor is the immediate neighbour to A'Mhaighdean, itself regarded by most as the remotest of the Scottish Munros.
Since 2005, I have enjoyed the experience of making it to the summit of Ruadh Stac Mhor the night before, camping out on the summit and providing the link to other checkpoints during the event. Some years, the weather is distinctly dismal; wet, misty, windy and cold. But when the light and the weather are right, there is no better viewpoint.
A few days in Arisaig and an opportunity to use our kayaks to explore the surrounding area and the wonderful coastline. With paddling trips to the Arisaig skerries, to Koydart and taking some time to chill and to enjoy time together, this was quality time. Making use of capable boats, great weather and the urge to explore, we toured the area and found our way into some beautiful nooks and crannies along the coastline.
Easter and an opportunity for the first trip away of the year. Having been attracted to kayaking over the winter, Tania and I had booked ourselves three days with Sea Kayak Oban and were looking forward to adding another string to our bow.
Hitching on the caravan for the first tow of the year, we headed to North Ledaig and one of our favourite pitches - next to the beach with cracking views across the Firth of Lorne, towards the Isle of Mull.
Friday evening and time to make plans for the hills for the weekend. We agreed that Sunday was to be the day, with Mick suggesting the Sgurr nan Conbhairean ridge in Kintail, but from the Glen Affric side. This sounded a good winter day out, taking in three tops and two summits and on a route that was a little different from the norm.
When planning the Team Training and Exercise List for 2008, we had originally hoped to go to Norway for a week's winter training about this time of year. For various reasons, this didn't happen, but as a precursor to a foreign trip in 2009, we decided to organise a week in Scotland, based in the Aviemore/Newtonmore area, allowing us an opportunity to hone up winter skills on a reasonable snow base.
As you may have seen from the "About" page, I hold my Summer Mountain Leader (ML) Award from the Scottish Mountain Leader Training Board. Gaining my Summer ML was supposed to be a good confirmation that I could handle myself out on the hills in Summer. Bit by bit, however, I found myself being drawn to the idea of aiming towards the Winter ML Award. Encouraged by Donald and Mick from the team, who were also considering their Winter ML, so it was that the three of us found ourselves at Glenmore Lodge at the start of the week, contemplating the next six days of training in advance of eventual assessment.
The group of 12 was fairly mixed, but included the usual mix of aspirants and Mountain Rescue Team members (the three of us from Dundonnell MRT, one from Kintail MRT and two from RAF Valley MRT in Wales).From the start of the week, the weather was looking none too optimistic, with high winds forecast. This was one week where the forecasters were absolutely spot on….!! Nothing for it, this was a syllabus course and we were committed to being out on the hills by this stage. For a bit of fun I've plotted out the maximum and mean forecasts for the week. On two occasions during the course, the maximum wind speed reached over 100mph and, as you will see from the account, one week of wind!!
Mid January and the forecast setting fair for the weekend. Sitting at lunch in the office on Friday, looking out of the window, discussing plans and wondering if the weather would hold for the next day…. The skiing, hillwalking and outdoor activities forecasts were all optimistic and there were reports of a bumper day's skiing on Cairngorm that day.
A February day on Cairngorm with pals, with great light and with great views to the surrounding hills.
From Cairngorm, we were treated to fabulous views to Braeriach, Cairn Toul, The Devils Point, The Angel's Peak, Ben Alder, Beinn Mheadhoin, Beinn a' Bhuird and many other hills in the far distance. With clear skies and long distance views, this was a classic winter day out and one to savour!
One of the largest freshwater lochs in Scotland, Loch Maree has over 65 islands, most of these wooded with indigenous Scots pine trees. As one of the approaches to Gairloch and the west coast, Loch Maree is an iconic tourist location.Further to the north and at the end of a small single track road, Red Point beach is a wonderfully secluded setting with a beach which looks westwards to Skye and the Outer Hebrides. With red - hued sand, and set against a stunning panoramic backdrop, this is surely one of the most picturesque beaches on the west coast of Scotland
Floors Castle in Roxburghshire, the home of the Duke and Duchess of Roxburghe, is Scotland's largest inhabited Castle. With extensive grounds and a sunny autumn day, this was an opportunity to explore and photograph.
Culbin Sands, or Bar Inbhir Èireann in Gaelic, is an expanse of coastline and forest on the Moray Coastline. Scenic sands and forest, rich in birdlife and with an amazing wartime history, this area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest which is definitely worth a visit!
June 2006 and the Stornoway Coastguard Station hosted the 3rd annual Emergency Services Open Day.
With 28 organisations in attendance, Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team was asked to participate in the day; a great opportunity for some publicity and to meet with some of the other agencies. Six of us set off on the morning Caledonian MacBrayne ferry from Ullapool over to Stornoway.
With no ferry back on the Sunday, the plan was to spend the night on board the Coastguard tug, the 'Anglian Prince', which would take us back to Ullapool the next day. Enjoying a barbecue in Stornoway that evening, we were informed by the local Coastguard that the Anglian Prince had been called out to assist the passage of a tanker through the Minch and we needed to return to the ship as soon as possible. Around midnight, we cast off and headed into the Minch enjoying the passage through the Minch in darkness. Around 02:00 it was time to retire to our cabins. Awaking at 06:30, we realised just where we were....
A weekend with pals on the Corrour hills. Dropped off by the train at Corrour station on the Saturday morning, we had a superb winter day crossing the tops of Carn Dearg and Sgor Choinnich with an overnight stop at one of the cottages at Corrour Lodge. The following day saw us return to Corrour station via Ben na Lap on the south side of Loch Ossian. A great winter day out!
The weekend of the annual Great Wilderness Challenge was approaching and the Mountain Rescue Team was preparing to assist with the provision of safety cover and radio relays. Bill Amos and I had agreed that this year I would accompany him to Checkpoint 8, high on the summit of Ruadh Stac Mor. This is a key position in ensuring communications from the start point at Corrie Hallie to the finish point at Poolewe.
The plan was to set off on the Friday, the day before the race and to install ourselves at the summit of Ruadh Stac Mor that evening in preparation for the Saturday. A landrover trip from Poolewe to the boathouse at the Fionn Loch followed by a boat trip up the loch saw us at Carnmore bothy late on Friday afternoon and ready to make our way up to the summit.