Traveling alone through the majestic and wild landscape of the Scottish Highlands, with its alluring seclusion amid lochs and mountains, was truly exciting and did wonders for my wellbeing.
I had received an invitation from a friend to photograph the launch of a widows’ charity in Scotland. I decided to make this event the beginning of a photography tour and so I planned the North Coast 500 trip, a scenic route of over 500 miles around the north coast of Scotland. Having persuaded my wife that this trip was best done on my own, I booked a week’s leave and headed north.
After over 400 miles and almost eight hours driving, I arrived at the Holiday Inn Express in Dunfermline. The following day, I photographed the charity event then took to the road, ready to explore the Gaelic landscape. Advice on the internet suggest Inverness as a starting point, so I headed to the city on the northeast coast, stopping many times to photograph the sites I encountered.
Great photo opportunities
Armed with a handful of travel maps and helpful advice from the local tourist information centre, I made my way to Loch Ness. The legendary monster was elusive as ever, but the lake yielded some great photo opportunities for which I was grateful. The views of the rising mist over the water and surrounding hills were spectacular and I spent a whole day around the shores of the lake.
Time was swiftly passing by, and I had barely started the NC500 route. I took local advice and journeyed to Applecross – a beautiful fishing village on the northwest coast. As beautiful as this village is, the journey there was even more memorable. My satnav took me through the incredible mountain road of Bealach Na Ba, also known as the Applecross Pass, a single-track road of hairpin bends and steep climbs - not for the fainthearted! I now understand that this track has been named as one of the world’s most dangerous roads. Had I known this before, I probably would have taken an alternative route!
Road trip was the way to go
The advantage of doing this trip by car is that I was able to stop off wherever I fancied (if it was safe) and take in the views. The thought of running out of petrol while in the middle of nowhere was a sobering one, so I ensured I had enough fuel to get to each destination. The car was also my place of sleep each night once I found a safe place to park.
It was impossible to complete the 516 miles of this road trip satisfactorily in such a short time. I concentrated my efforts to the west coast and, even then, had only scratched the surface of this magnificent region. But my appetite has been well and truly whetted and would love to return to complete what I started.
Would I do things differently? Of course. I would go earlier in the summer to catch more sunlight and would give myself more time, possibly two weeks, not just to complete the route but to do it less hurriedly. But overall, I had a wonderful experience.