The Highlands of Scotland / by Neil Alexander

Eilean Donan Castle, Dornie, Kyle of Lochalsh

 This last weekend I decided to make a spur of the moment trip up to the Highlands of Scotland. I've been desperate to get back up there for some time now, and as I had a window, the forecast looked moderately favourable I decided to wing it. With only a vague idea of where to shoot, and no pitch for my tent firmed up, it was a bit of a wing and a prayer type trip. I guess the more I make these kinds of trips though, the better I'm getting at it, and the less firm planning I need to do. It certainly does help having a definite plan for an overnight halt though as it took me valuable scouting and shooting time to find a site with a vacancy in a location that suited.

Royal Marines Commando Memorial with Ben Nevis in the background

The weather on the Friday night was lovely and crisp and made for some great light. A little lacking in the cloud department for any inspiring skies, and better planning would probably have found me at a better location, but as I'd just spent 8 hours driving, pitched my tent as fast as I could, thrown down some beans rustled up on my little gas stove it was a mad dash to catch anything before the light faded.

Royal Marines Commando Memorial near Spean Bridge

The next morning I headed up from Fort William towards the Kyle of Lochalsh. My original intention had been to head over to Skye, but I just didn't have that much time unfortunately - that's for the next trip. What started as a clear morning quickly clouded over though there were pockets of sunlight dappled across the countryside which made for some great skies, and some quite dramatic images. As the day progressed though, the patches of sunlight increasingly disappeared and the sky turned blanket grey. Looking at the weather radar on Saturday afternoon, it was predicted to rain heavily overnight followed by a damp grey Sunday. As I had to be back for Sunday evening, I made the decision to avoid packing up a soaking wet tent and hit the road for the 400 mile return trip on Saturday night. Accompanied by Peter James' DS Roy Grace, a packet of Jaffa Cakes, and twenteen litres of Red Bull I made the journey in record time, though my car does now look like its been driven through a very dense infestation of flies, and other assorted road kill!

She's seen better days - GirlBeth, Dornie, Loch Long

This is just a quick sample of some of the photographs I made. I'll post more over the coming weeks.

One small gripe though to finish off with. Actually a large gripe. Stopping at the Moto Lancaster services on the M6 around 11pm, having long finished my Jaffa Cakes and in dire need of something hot to eat, I was presented with shuttered shop after shuttered shop. Let alone hot food, I couldn't even buy snacks! Finally I trekked over the bridge to the "restaurant" on the Northbound carriageway certain I'd get something there. They had one sausage and a tray of congealed beans. After some persuasion, I finally persuaded them to make me some scampi and chips though it was a long way from a la carte! Do the management of these places think that people only travel and want to eat between 9 and 5? There were over 50 or 60 cars and trucks in the car park when I arrived, and plenty people milling around looking for food. It's not like to M6 is just some token link road between towns. At this time of year it's a major arterial route for all sorts, including many tourists. What does it say to them when we can't even keep a measly Burger King open 24 hours?

Nothing to eat here - Lancaster Services, M6

Rant over.

Neil out.