by Pete Elliott
The landscapes of Scotland boast some of the most remarkable mountains, incredible lochs and pristine white beaches. It’s this variety that draws adventurers and photographers alike from all over the world to see Scotland's raw beauty. Scotland boasts these places in abundance, however on a recent road trip I split my time between Torridon, a majestic mountain utopia for hikers, and the remote area of Assynt, which has a truly extraordinary landscape. Prepared for any conditions that Scotland could throw as us, we headed off on a week long adventure to experience the allure of these places first hand, and hopefully capture some of the undeniable beauty of the Scottish Highlands along the way.
Torridon and Applecross
The route through Torridon includes a number of significant lengths of single track road. We approached from the west, taking the A896 road to reach the base of Liatach. If you like your mountains on a grand scale then Torridon is the place for you, with some of the finest Munros in Scotland. Liatach is the name of the ridge and its essentially a 5 mile ridge with eight tops of which two are classed as Munro’s. The weather was closing in as we started ascending so we weren’t too optimistic about our chances of a view from the top. It’s a pretty difficult hike, you head straight up quite a steep path gaining elevation quickly. However it doesn’t take much elevation before the views are enough to make you grab your camera out.
On the way up Liatach
Reached the snowline
Attempting to reach the eastern summit (photo by Sam Rogers)
After the long wet hike down we finally made the van just as it was pitch black. After drying off we headed for Applecross and Bealach Na Ba, which would be our sunrise spot for the next day of adventure on the Applecross Peninsula.
Bealach Na Ba
The Bealach Na Ba is a famous pass through the mountains on the Applecross Peninsula. It means pass of the cattle, and was used in previous times to drive cattle from Applecross to other parts of the Highlands. This single track road has some hairpin bends reminiscent of the alps, and the looming cliffs that encompass the road from either side mean there are plenty of compositions to be had. We experienced so many different conditions that morning from rain, hail, wind to finally some rays of sunshine bursting through the cloud. We spent 30 minutes or so shooting the road from the north, looking down towards Loch Kishorn.
Light bursting through the clouds
Make sure after you’ve shot the road to walk around to the south western side and onto to Meall Gorm Ridge. Here you will be welcomed with views across to Skye (if Scotland is feeling generous) and some incredible views over Bealach Na Ba. The sheer drops on either side are daunting, but there’s plenty of shots to be had around here. Adding a person for scale allows people to really get a sense of the scale of the place. Just don’t get too close to the edge.
Enjoying the views
Looking over towards Skye
At the end of the ridge
After this we continued back towards Torridon, stopping off at a few classic spots along the way. The whole area is breathtaking so we spent a lot of time jumping in and out of the car to shoot various mountains, lochs and houses from the roadside. There is a new photo to be had around every corner. Be sure to carry a telephoto to snipe some of the white houses Scotland is famous for and and distant mountains or wildlife you may encounter along the way. All of the lenses in your bag will be used in a place like this. Make sure you’re prepared for the weather in Scotland as often if you stay in the same place for long enough you’ll experience some incredible conditions.
Another White Cottage
The Famous Torridon white cottage
After we finished our little excursion through Torridon and Applecross we headed further north to Assynt for the weekend. Assynt is a sparsely populated area in the North west highlands, known for its towering monolith mountains that jut out from the landscape, with vast swaths of interconnected lochs in between. Similar to Torridon most of Assynt is accessible by a single track road, however there is undeniable beauty around every bend so it’s always enjoyable even sat in the car. We opted to hike Stac Pollaidh for sunset on our second day and it didn’t disappoint.
The hike up Stac Pollaidh isn’t too strenuous and the trail-head starts from the car park. The path to the summit is well made and isn’t too steep. At only 612m this peak punches above its weight, offering unparalleled views of Assynt. As with a lot of hikes in Assynt, the car park isn’t the most spacious so get here early. The views are some of the best in Assynt, and you won’t be too tired to enjoy them. The mountains in Assynt are so sparse a telephoto lens is essential, and for this hike I carried my wide angle, mid zoom and telephoto lenses so I was covered. As aforementioned the hike isn't too strenuous so the extra weight is well worth it! The views over the towering monolith Suilven and the Assynt Wilderness are simply breathtaking.
And that's it, a short excursion through some of the most beautiful places in Scotland. What a way to end our trip with a camp on Suilven, it capped off an amazing trip exploring some of Scotland's wild landscapes. It doesn’t get much better than that for an adventure photographer. Now time to plan my next trip up north!
Pete's kit used for this trip
- Vanguard VEO 2 264CB travel tripod
- Fujifilm XT3
- 16-55 f2.8
- 23mm f1.4
- 55-200mm f3.5-4.8
Pete has been a Vanguard Ambassador for just over a year now. He is a keen explorer and also enjoys writing about his trips as well as the photography.
'Being outdoors is where i'm most comfortable but I also love to push out of my comfort zone with activities like skiing and scrambling.'