Day One in The Highlands
I never really planned this trip, it was more a rough idea that formed of where I wanted to go and took it from there.
My day started when I got into my car at 4.30am in Dundee, fully loaded with the anticipation of what lay ahead. Of course the problem with leaving before daylight is driving up the A9 towards Inverness in total darkness leaves a feeling of being robbed, you know the mountains are there but can’t see them, this was however a necessity due to how far north I was heading.
My first stop on my 2 day trip was Rogie Falls, now I’ve been to the falls twice before but I always enjoy revisiting places when the seasons change, re-photographing them and comparing in the hope I get a better shot. The walk down the trail to the falls is always nice as it’s quite easy and takes you through what feels like an ancient forest, covered in moss and looking fabulous, especially so with Autumn colours making an appearance. Although Rogie was a nice little distraction from the already 3 hour drive it wasn’t my prime target for the day, that was to be the next stop, Loch Maree.
The road leading down to the Loch is a sight to see(and photograph) and there is a perfect viewing point/car park from which to see it. The road almost takes on the appearance of a tributary river winding its way down the hill opening up at the mouth of the Loch. The Loch itself is a very historical place with ties to christian missionaries bringing christianity to the locals in 672 and Isle Maree(an island on the Loch) holds the remnants of a church and graveyard from these times.
After cooking my breakfast by the Lochside and relaxing a while I decided to leave the Loch behind and go to stop number 2 of the day, and it was going to be a long one. To get from my current location to my next destination of Applecross meant driving a single lane road to Shieldag before reaching the fabled Applecross Road.
These single lane roads are often in place in Scotland to cut across massive areas of country in the straightest line possible, the upside being the scenery is often magnificent. I always make a point of stopping on these roads and just looking around, taking in my surroundings. I know that everyone won’t get it but when that penny drops you’ll begin to notice things that would otherwise pass you by like the trees, ferns, grasses and fantastic geometric shapes carved into the mountainside like a staircase for a giant. Obviously you don’t have to get it to enjoy the Scottish countryside, but please, slow down and take it in, it will make your journey so much more than a tick in a box saying ‘Scotland done’.
When you reach the Applecross Road you are faced with a warning sign which states that this road is not for learner drivers, heed this warning please as many of the corners are hairpin and uphill to be taken in 1st gear and not to be taken lightly. If you look around from one of the many passing places you can lose track of the time you’re in, you can sense the past although it’s really hard to pinpoint which past, from an angle this countryside could be prehistoric and I really wouldn’t fancy the idea of attempting it in winter!
The last time I was here I was a passenger in the car so this was the first time I have actually driven it and found myself seeing more than I did the first time around including a fantastic waterfall, that can only mean it was time to get scrambling down hills to river level. I must have spent half an hour down there just relaxing, shooting photos and video before getting back to my car and heading onward and upward.
This road really is a bit special and i would urge you to be courteous when driving it. Negotiating an uphill hairpin bend in first gear needs a bit of thought and consideration. I suppose you could say this is as wild as it gets for a road and the sights you are gifted would make you want to drive it as often as you can. After reaching Applecross and having a bit of lunch there is one thing you really want to do, drive back to the main road and i have to admit I was grinning like a buffoon at the prospect.
That was the scheduled stops of day one and all that was left was the 85mile drive to Fort William where I was staying the night, but don’t think for a second that’s the end …. the road from Applecross to Fort William takes you past some of the most iconic scenery in Scotland which I have documented many times in various articles but to name a few sights on the way …. Eilean Donan castle, Loch Garry and the brilliant views it has and the commando memorial at Spean Bridge to name but 3, but what a 3!
On arrival in Fort William I was just in time for a magnificent sunset over Loch Linnhe that capped off the day very nicely and set me up for day 2.
There was rain predicted for day 2 of my trip and I am thankful that it never arrived but what it did produce was magnificent storm clouds. I recently wrote an article on the Scottish Weather when I stated “Blue Skies are boring” and I meant it. Luckily for me there was no chance of a blue sky today.
Day 2 for me was always going to be a bonus after covering so much ground on the previous day and therefore the only plan I had was to spend the day at my favourite place on earth,Glen Etive.Being a photographer I’m going to say something that I wouldn’t normally say but i wasn’t too bothered about taking photographs. It was a great drive, i had the road to myself for the most part only meeting one other car on the journey to the end and I have to say that is the way to get to know a place. Sometimes it’s not about the photos but more about being there and taking in the atmosphere and that’s what the day was for me, though I admit i took some iPhone shots for my next book. After a gentle journey home across Rannoch Moor and through Perthshire I was very happy and very tired, but glad to be home?
So then, 36 hours, 500+ Miles and 550+ photos later… Not bad for a 2 Day trip into the Highlands
For more photographs of the Scottish Highlands, with free eBook Downloads go to www.daviehudsonphotography.biz