A summer visit to the Highlands 2018

The Scottish Highlands is becoming like a second home to us after so many years now of visiting the stunning location. I am learning to not predict the photographic rewards or lack of, that will come from spending a week there, even when the weather looks like it will do its best to dampen any photography expectations.

This particular week was based again in Nairn (east of Inverness), and followed quite a wet, cloudy week in the Isle of Skye! The weather didn’t look much better for the coming week, but it still had some special moments in store.

Chanonry Point

The first of these moments, came with a visit to Chanonry Point, to spend some time hoping to see dolphins. It was going to be a tough challenge to outdo the visit I had back a year earlier where I had an extra special couple of hours of dolphins playing around the shoreline enabling some great photo opportunities (see: Photographing Dolphins at Chanonry Point).

On this occasion the highlight was seeing some newly born dolphins calves swimming with their parents.

Most of the jumping activity happened a good way from shore (except after my battery incident - see later).

However we were all privileged to get great close up views of the pods as they stayed around for a long time:

There was plenty of splashing as well. Including playing with food!

Following the photos of the fish being thrown around, my camera battery ran flat. “No problem", I thought as I knew I had a spare. However I discovered the spare was completely flat as well - I found later it had died a death and was faulty. So I was left to stand and watch as the dolphin activity seemed to suddenly increase with more jumps and breaches close to shore. Sometimes however it is nice to just enjoy the moment without having to look through a viewfinder!

Bow Fiddle Rock

As the week progressed, it looked like the weather one particular morning was going to be suitable to visit the Bow Fiddle Rock at Portknockie (an hour drive). The hope was to again attempt to get the sun rising through the arch - which I had succeeded to do the year before.

Unfortunately the passing weather front was still departing towards the east, and blocked the sunlight of the first stage of sunrise:

However it soon rose above the cloud and once again gave some great photo opportunities. It seems like the tide level is different every time I visit and gives a different take on what may be a similar photo shoot:

It was going to be great weather during the morning, so I made the most of it and explored further up the coast, following a stunning coastal path starting at Cullen.

The shots below were taken to see the different effects of the polariser on the rock pool:

Ben Wyvis Region

The visit to Portknockie had started well before sunrise. By the time I returned to Nairn after a morning exploring the coastline above Cullen, there was still plenty of hours left to head off to the Ben Wyvis region north of the Black Isle to go for a hike. The weather looked unpredictable - epitomised by getting caught in a torrential downpour before I could get my waterproofs fully on! But resulted in a good rainbow looking back to the glen from which I had started:

Having spent 3-4 hours already walking in the morning, my legs suddenly felt like they had had enough for the day, but I was determined to continue and make the most of being out in the wilds.

I walked on up the track passing workers in tractors and machinery laying down gravel, and eventually reached the end of the track at a small mountain river cascading down the mountainside. I decided to follow the river upstream and was continually reminded of Psalm 23, where the Scriptures declare - ‘He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still/quiet waters, He restores my soul.’ It was such a tranquil location leaving such pleasant memories.

That was the final trip of the week, with the last photo opportunity on the return to our accommodation as I passed this particular ‘landmark’ on the way to Nairn. It seems like every time I drive past this cluster of trees, I have thought it would make a great photo with the right light and conditions. It was definitely part of the way towards those conditions as I returned to Nairn, so had to pull over and click away!

Until the next visit…