Highlands

Never before had I traveled to Scotland. I’d seen plenty of the country from documentaries on the TV, and from images I’d seen online, which had only fueled the hunger for visiting myself. Once plans to travel to Edinburgh arose on a purely socially driven trip, there was no way I was going to miss an opportunity to head out into the highlands, and experience that Scottish wilderness first hand. I wouldn’t have much time, just a few days to make the most of, and I knew the places I wanted to go.

Glencoe was number 1, it had to be. It’s a popular destination true, and as a result is widely photographed, but there is a very good reason for it; it is simply stunning. Due to time constraints I had to make the most of the one morning I would be there, and curiosity and adventure got the better of me. Rather than camping out in view of the hugely photographed Buchaille Etive Mor, I headed down Glen Etive, following the winding road, enthralled at the valley sides rising up either side of me. I knew that this was the place I wanted to wake up in, and I think a part of me knew that midges would put a dampener on the experience, but looking back on the shots I achieved I’m definitely filled with fond memories of that beautiful location.

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The River Etive
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Lagangarbh hut at the foot of Buchaille Etive Mor

The morning after I made my way further along the main road that winds its way down the valley of Glencoe. The Three Sisters of Bidean nam Bian stood in a shroud of early morning mist, and encouraged me to find a layby and take it all in. To some, such as lorry drivers and the like, this may well be a regular route to wherever they may be headed, but as I’d just arrived from the sea-level Isles of Scilly, I had to stand in awe. A hike up to the other side of the valley offered a refreshing source of water along with yet more views of mist cloaked mountains, one of the better ways to spend a morning.

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The three sisters of Bidean nam Bian shrouded in cloud
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The view from the far side.

The next drive took me North-West. I knew that as I traveled I would be truly immersed in highland scenery, and initially the plan was to reach the Isle of Skye. But I was keen to set up camp earlier rather than later, allowing me time to explore the local area, so as I winded my way over the Ratagan mountains I kept an eye out for ideal camping spots. After turning onto a brilliant stretch of road that wound its way higher and higher, I got some great views over Loch Duich and the surrounding peaks. It was here that I found a nice little spot tucked away to set up tent, one of the best camping spots I experienced that trip and definitely one I’ll return to.

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One of the parking spots in the Ratagan Mountains offered beautiful views down the valley, with a bounty of wildflowers to complete the scene.
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Sunrise from the camp spot

The final day saw a great deal of driving as I headed East towards the Cairngorms. With little certainty of where a good place to camp would be I scouted out a number of locations as I drove, finally pulling into another layby and ascending the side of the valley. After an unusual chat with a lorry driver about gravel (as you do), I pitched my tent on the hillside and settled in for my last evening watching the sun go down over this captivating landscape.

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The morning was a wonderful chorus of the black grouse surrounding me, with one particularly loud individual from right outside my front door! Had I known this, I definitely would have had set the camera up ready to trigger remotely, but I had barely stirred in my sleeping bag before the sound of my movements had spooked the bird away. Hopefully there will be another time.

Though it was a short trip, I came away with a camera full of images, and a head teeming with ideas for future adventures.

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