East and West

 

In a couple of days time, Lisabet and I are heading off to Scotland for a fortnight. Hooray! [insert celebratory emojis here]

Every year we try to visit a different part of Scotland we’ve never explored… with possibly the exception of Skye, where we’ve been a few times now (I mean, who wouldn’t want to?) Our last stay in Scotland saw us spend the first week on Skye, our second visit to the island, and then we stayed in Lochcarron to explore Torridon and Applecross for our final week.

If you’re interested, you can check my older work of Skye and Torridon here.

Another consistent decision of ours is to stay in Scotland during late September/early October. There’s a couple of reasons for this.

 
TorridonApplecross-02.jpg
 
 

1. Midges

As beautiful as the Scottish people and landscapes are, the main thing that puts us and thousands of others off from visiting Scotland during the Summer is the midges (known in other parts of the world as “no-see-ums”, “punkies”, “sandflies”, and “muffleheads”).

Midges are tiny, flying insects that swarm in clouds of thousands from late Spring to late Summer. They love the soft light of dawn and dusk, humid days, boggy/marshy/wet places, and a lack of wind. Oh, they can also detect the Carbon Dioxide we exhale, and when one of them bites into you they emit pheromones that alert other midges that there’s a bloody good meal to be had, resulting in more bites.

 
 
 

They are bastards.

And in the Highlands of Scotland they are a known problem and nuisance. In fact, the Highland Midge even has its own Wikipedia page, they are that notorious! It’s been estimated they cost the Highland economy £286m per year in deterring tourists from visiting the area.

By the time Autumn arrives, midge numbers are greatly reduced, which means a much happier Lisabet and I!

Speaking of Autumn…

2. Autumn Colours

Autumn in Scotland is glorious; in my experience, it hits its peak from early- to mid-October. We’ll be staying as the colours are changing, which I’m very much looking forward to! Not only that, but sunrise and sunset times are more… sociable, and as the sun is lower in the sky the quality of light is softer, which I very much prefer.

So where are we visiting this year?

Week 1: Cove Harbour, Scottish Borders

We’ve briefly touched on the incredible coast of the Scottish Borders before, notably the St. Abbs Head Nature Reserve. About 10-odd miles north of St. Abbs Head lies a tiny coastal village called Cove.

Once a bustling fishing harbour, the village is now privately owned by Edinburgh architect Ben Tindall. Two main trails pass near the village: the Southern Upland Way and the John Muir Way, so there’ll be plenty of hiking and exploring to do!

I’m looking forward to spending a week right by the coast in a quiet and remote fishing village. Seascapes and fascinating coastal geology here we come!

Week 2: The Isle of Arran

Arran has been on my bucket list for many years now, so I am obviously ecstatic to finally be able to explore this magical island. For a landscape photographer like me, it has it all: pointy peaks, craggy cliffs, castles, unusual coastal geology, caves, lochs, mountains, waterfalls, and so much more.

A particular highlight I’m excited about is Glen Rosa and its view towards A' Chìr Mhòr, a modest but shapely pyramidal peak of (799m/2,621ft).

I’ll be taking the MacBook with me so hopefully there’ll be opportunities to post new work and blog updates whilst I’m in the country. But right now, all I have is giddy, childlike enthusiasm and anticipation.