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
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.