SCOTLAND Photo weekenders 2020
The North Coast 500
Five days of photographic freedom
Five Days. Five hundred miles. Until you make the journey, it’s hard to imagine the diversity of the landscape and the many different moods it will evoke. You’ll be travelling in the comfort of a nine-seater touring vehicle. With only four photographers, a trainer and his assistant, there’s plenty of room for you – and quick access to your camera gear too. That’s important because you need to be ready to take the shot whenever the photographic opportunity presents itself. And there are five hundred miles of opportunities.
Trace the rugged coastline of The North Highlands and immerse yourself in some of the most intoxicatingly beautiful scenery in the world. Roughly 500 miles of mountains and moorland, lochs and glens, rocky headlands and golden beaches; every mile of this adventure has the power to ignite your creativity. Three days of incredible photographic opportunities! If you love landscape photography, this Roadtrip truly is for you.
Nailing the shots
The North Coast 500 trip had been on our personal wish list for some time and now we have done it. So what better than to share it once again with four photographers who all want to experience the same thrill? If you would like to learn how to capture the glorious natural wilderness in camera, this is the perfect place to do it. Learn from Andrew, your trainer, how to see like a camera and really do justice to some magnificent scenery. He will teach you how to use the light on the landscape to best advantage; how to compose and frame images which evoke powerful emotion; in fact, everything you need to know to capture the mood and atmosphere of one of Scotland’s best-kept secrets.
Small is beautiful
We’ve chosen to limit numbers to four photographers and here’s why. Firstly, with such a small group, we can travel the Highland roads in comfort in an 8/9 seater vehicle. There will be six of us in total and plenty of room for luggage and camera gear. What’s more, lower numbers offer a higher trainer-to-photographer ratio so you get more time to ask questions, try things out and learn from your experiences in a well-supported environment. And it’s completely your choice. Andrew is there to give you as much or as little help as you need.
At the end of each day
We have selected where to stay along the way with considerable care. Obviously, all accommodation is single occupation with en-suite facilities and the usual modern conveniences – but we also thought you would like variety. We spend our first night in the quaint harbour town of Lybster. Here, we stay in a recently refurbished historic Highland hotel which serves a range of delicious local produce. The following morning, our road trip continues, coming to rest at a cosy lodge situated in a quiet Highland glen on the banks of the River Borgie. This will be our home for the next two nights. And on our fourth and final night, we arrive at one of the top five recommended destinations in the UK: Gairloch. Our hotel is right on the shoreline, offering magnificent views across the loch to Skye and the Hebrides. A landscape photographer’s paradise.
The aim is to give you a combination of comfort and character, with a real taste of the region. That includes a true Highland welcome and a good selection of the local fare. The world, or certainly the North Coast 500, is definitely our oyster
June 4th to 8th
June 4th to 8th
October 8th to 12th
October 8th to 12th
We leave Inverness around 9am and head north along the A9. En route, we take a short detour to view the old oil rigs that are waiting to be scrapped in the Cromarty Firth – it’s quite an eerie site – and then rejoin the A9 to continue our journey. Our destination is the Portland Hotel, a lovely country hotel within the village of Lybster. There is plenty to see en route, including Dunrobin Castle. When we hit the town of Brora, we plan to have a bite of lunch in a super little cafe called Cocoa Skye. Warning: they make their own chocolates. Tempting! We should arrive at Lybster mid to late afternoon. In the summertime, we have an early meal and then head to John O’Groats for sunset which is around 10:30pm. In the autumn, we visit John O’Groats for the sunset first and then return to Lybster for our evening meal.
It’s farewell to Lybster and we travel north to Thurso. Motoring west along the coast road, we head for what will be our base for the next two nights, the Borgie Lodge Hotel. This lovely boutique hotel and restaurant is run by Andi and her husband who look after us exceptionally well. We are right in the wilderness of North West Sutherland here and it is very beautiful. During your stay, you might hear and see wild deer if you’re up early, especially in the rutting season. En route, we stop for a legendary cuppa with Karen who prepares our refreshments in her ingeniously converted horse box cafe – Coast. The choice, the quality and the service are quite something! From our base in the River Borgie Glen, we explore the nearby town of Tongue, the coastal region and harbour near Skerray and Torrisdale.
We make a reasonably early start to crack on with our adventure. Our journey south along the west coast takes us through Tongue today and on to Durness. The landscape is exceptionally picturesque here and well worth taking time to enjoy. The moorland, the beaches and, of course, the waterfall at Smoo Cave are all on our itinerary. Cocoa Mountain cafe is known, among other things, for its excellent hot chocolate and it’s an ideal lunchtime stop. Later, we return for our second night at the Borgie Lodge Hotel.
After a hearty Scottish breakfast, we drive on to Ullapool via Scourie and Lochinver. Every twist and turn of in the road reveals another stunning vista so be prepared for plenty of stops. By the time we reach Ullapool, we will be ready for some refreshments and Tea by the Sea is an absolute little gem of a tea shop which serves delicious homemade cakes and snacks. Refuelled, we head to our lovely hotel in Gairloch. The Myrtle Bank Hotel looks out over the Atlantic Ocean with views across the water to Skye. Another photo opportunity 🙂
This morning, we continue south before turning east towards Inverness and stopping at the famous Applecross Inn for lunch. It’s a bustling little place with a remarkably varied menu of freshly cooked fare and plenty of character. If the weather is good, our journey from here up and over the pass is quite spectacular and, needless to say, superb for photography. Our last stop takes us through the forest to the dramatic views at Rogie Falls. From here, we press on to Inverness and should arrive at our final destination of the NC500 journey at around 6pm.
The trips begin at 9am on Thursday morning and finish around 6pm on Monday evenings. We have an option for Roadtrippers to stay at the Muthu Newton Hotel near Inverness Airport. You don’t need to decide when booking and can add this option at any time up to 30 days prior the trips commencing. The price of the room at the Muthu Newton is £100 per night including B&B based on a double room with ensuite and single occupancy.
We offer a choice of paying in full when booking or paying a deposit of £500 and the balance spread over equal monthly payments. The balance must be cleared in full 60 days prior to departure.
What to Bring
You will need an interchangeable lens camera that can preferably shoot in manual.
A solid tripod is an essential if you want to do long exposure photography as are ND filters.
We suggest bringing lenses that cover the following focal lengths, don’t worry if you don’t have these; you can complete the course with a standard kit lens.
Full Frame Sensors. 14mm – 200mm
APS 1.5 Crop 10mm – 150mm
MFT 2x Crop 7mm – 100mm
If you have a drone you should be able to fly it but beware of the winds!
The weather can be unpredictable so waterproof clothing is essential including some good walking boots
In June there will be Midges, less so in October. However, this is Scotland so bring suitable insect repellent plus bite and sting relief.
This course is for photographers who have some experience.
You should be familiar with your camera controls and be able to shoot in manual exposure mode.
Most of the walking is on flat surfaces. Smoo Cave has steep steps leading down to it – be prepared for the climb back!
June 3rd at the Muthu Newton Hotel
One night B&B
June 8th at the Muthu Newton Hotel
One night B&B
October 7th at the Muthu Newton Hotel
One night B&B
October 12th at the Muthu Newton Hotel
One night B&B