New trails in the Highlands of Scotland

With Easter being later in April this year, it felt like a ‘long’ time from our last trip up to Scotland back at Christmas. But here we were again, for another week in my favourite part of the UK. This week our ‘base camp’ was in a small single bedroom cottage in Fisher Town, Nairn. It was a short walk from the beach, which was ideal for Willow’s exercise, with her enjoying swimming in the sea again.

Although very cold for the first half of the week, primarily from the wind, it was sunny and I had plans to try some different locations for hikes/photos over the week.

The first new hike was a long haul slog across open peat bog to get views down a scenic glen. With strong cold winds and a lot of cloud cover there was not much to photograph on the way, but the weather improved and after climbing up to the top of the glen it made the effort worthwhile with the views down towards Loch a’ Bhealaich.

Later in the week with the temperatures rising it provided an ideal opportunity for a long drive down to Glen Finnan. This was a location west of Fort William with an iconic viadect that was part of the highland railway route used by the Jacobite steam train during summer months.

It was too early in the year to get the steam train classic photo, so I settled for some different views of the viaduct itself which included this shot.

However the primary objective of the visit was to get views from the mountains above the viaduct looking down towards Loch Shiel. The mountain I had plans to walk up was the one in the top left of the above photo.

Having already studied the sun movements for the day using my photography apps, I knew that the conditions for photography were not good during the afternoon with the sun directly in front of the camera and high in the sky, but the objective was to find a location on the hike where I could get the sun later in the day when it started to descend to the north west.

Having already blistered my ankles on the previous hike, this turned out to be tougher than expected with very uneven ground underfoot - this ended up finishing off the left ankle blister on the way up! The views after Willow and I picked up height made the effort and pain worthwhile! Even with the sun in front of the camera!

The route got steeper and steeper, with a false summit thrown in to challenge the motivation. The photo from the viaduct definitely didn’t do justice for the effort that was going to be needed to get to the top. But once there - one could almost forget the total exhaustion from the last part of the ascent with the subsequent views.

The view was totally stunning. WIllow, who must have covered two or three times the distance i walked due to her running all over the side of the mountain on the way up, I think was equally impressed with the view! LOL.

With the loch in the background looking in one direction and mountains all around in the other directions it really felt like we were up on the top of the world. This was definitely a spot I wanted to visit again, but with a tent in order to capture the sunset and sleep overnight for sunrise the following morning from one of these summits.

But for today, we were on the clock. Having found a good spot/viewpoint while on the walk up which seemed perfect for the photos for when the sun got lower in the sky, we needed to head back down - which seemed in some ways more strenuous on the thighs than going up! Once back to the planned photography point, I got out the hiking chair and took some time out to soak in the views and wait for the sun to get to the right angle. It was one of the first times that I remember Willow digging a ‘nest’ in the tufts of grass to curl up for a rest herself!

Soon the sun dipped behind the mountains shrouding us in shadow and it was time to head back to the car, taking some photos of the views on the way.

As we got back to road level, before heading to the car we detoured down to the loch and were greeted with some great reflections as the sun was setting. What an end to a day!

The weather during the week resulted in some excellent sunset photograph opportunities such as the one below looking out over the Moray Firth from Nairn:

One of the other days we headed out on a road trip to Glen Torridon. This took us through Glen Docherty with views down to Loch Maree:

.. and provided some great photo opportunities with layered light across the mountains.

This is a view back down Glen Docherty on the return journey:

As we made our way back to Nairn, it looked like the sunset was going to be a good one, and so we managed to get to Nairn in time to capture the moment!

The real spectacle was as the sun dipped behind the distant mountains!

It was another great week, and we ended up extending it by an extra day as it was Easter weekend, and stayed for Bed and Breakfast locally.