Now while I fully admit that Glencoe is a place that I haven’t totally explored, it has become a stop off for a couple of days on my last two trips to Skye.
On my first road trip to Skye in 2017, I used Glencoe as a stop off to catch 40 winks and have a few coffee’s to refresh after the overnight trip up form Essex. It was on that brief stop that I decided I had to spend more time here on the next trip. The visit in 2017 was in heavy rain and strong winds, but the beauty of Glencoe was there clear as day. I spent that first trip driving about and getting an idea of what there was around.
The plans for 2018 were in full flow already. Soon enough tho I had to leave and head to Skye… I would be back…
Told you I’d be back, I found a cracking little AirBnB in Ballachulish and that was my home for a couple of nights. I arrived early morning after another overnight drive and the first order was to stop and crack open the flask of coffee. (yes I am fuelled by the stuff) Then I had the day to explore before I could check into the “Glencoe base camp” (this was actually in someone’s back garden, but it had everything you could want for a stop and not just for 2 nights!)
This time the weather was in my favour! Later in the year and it was sunny!! Yes sunny in Scotland and in the Highlands! I drove about to check the locations I was going to head to over the next couple of days taking some shots of the incredible landscape and waterfalls. Its another place where no matter where you look its just beautiful.
Now it was time to head to “base camp” like I said this was a cracking little find, AirBnB has some awesome places on it. There was a welcome pack of rolls, cereal, jam, milk and fruit. All very welcome. Its safe to say I slept like a log that first night.
Today I was going to head to Glencoe Lochan, but on the way I was side tracked by the sight of Loch Leven, with the sun and blue skies the reflections were simply incredible. I had to stop and get the camera out to capture this. That’s what I have found on my trips to the highlands and islands, your plans for the day often get hijacked by the landscape meaning your course is quite zig zag and the sat nav gets confused, I actually think mine wanted to shout at me several times. So all I will say, don't stick rigidly to your plans there's a wonderful world out there, let it find you!
I eventually arrived at the planned stop of Glencoe Lochan.
A brief history…
The woods surrounding Glencoe Lochan are the 19th century creation by Lord Strathcona to ease his Canadian wife’s longing for home. Conifers and rugged mountains encircle the lochan. The atmosphere is peaceful and calm.
All I can say is he did a stunning job and you can really see the Canadian/North American influence in the surrounding area. I was such a peaceful location, it was such a pleasure to be able to spend time in a location like this. There was a feeling of calm and the need to rush about totally went out of the window. There are a few "classic" shots to take here. The one looking down the jetty being one of them. There are so many angles and options, you just have to take a walk.
Back to the car and another coffee, looking into the woods I saw what I thought (and still do its still there) was a large dog covered in moss. Yes its trees but you can see what I mean… Can’t you?
After the Lochan I drove about for a bit just to take in more of the scenery, then headed to Glen Etive and the drive to Loch Etive. For those that don’t know, in the Bond movie Skyfall, it was along this road where James stopped the DB5 and he and M stared into the Glen. It’s a beautiful drive to the Loch, that follows the River Etive all the way. You have a good chance to see deer on this drive, admire them, take photos of them, but please don’t feed them! Like with most of the single track roads in the highlands, there are passing places dotted along them. Don't use them for parking in no matter how stunning the view is. Find a safe place to park and use that. You see so many people who have just been taken in by the beauty and just stop where they like. Grrr
There’s a little car park right by the Loch. This is the perfect spot for a coffee and a sandwich. Then getting the camera gear ready and head off to find "your" photo, it doesn't matter how many times a photo has been taken, every time you take one its unique to you.
The view down the Loch is simple awesome even more so with the sun dancing across the mountains! But during one of the long exposure photos I was taking I glanced back and was met with another stunning landscape, always always look around when you are taking photos, you might just miss that stunning photo.
It was back to base camp, now the weather was changing a bit so I took some atmospheric photos. I do love a photo looking down the roads especially when the road disappears into the mountains. This is why combustion cars are good, you can hear them coming and get out the road!
Woke up to heavy rain and low cloud, today I was heading to Skye…. (Skye blog ) But I’ll be back…
Guess what, yep I’m back. AirBnB stop again, but at a different one this year. And it was different. Not sure I’ll use this one again, but it was a place to stop and sleep so that’s what I needed.
This trip followed the same plan as before, arriving early after an overnight drive. This time in a hire car, and the C4 Cactus was decent drive and very comfy. Loads of room in the passenger side to have my coffee and breakfast. The weather this year was the total opposite with torrential rain on arrival. The car park I was in was full of coaches with tourists braving the rain for a selfie before jumping back on the coach and heading off. I still find it amusing watching people take selfies with iPads...
One bonus was the weather made the waterfall at the meeting of the three waters a bit powerful! But the downside was so many photos ruined by rain on the lens. I needed a wiper going on, so glad my cameras and lenses are weather sealed. The bad weather also brings in the low clouds and mist to roll across the mountain tops.
And with rain there is the chance of rainbows, and Glencoe didn’t let me down here. Rainbows and Lochs are always a winner.
I had already decided that I was going to go back to Glencoe Lochan as I love it there. But before that I was also going to head to Torren Lochan (this is the location for Hagrids house in one of the Harry Potter films)
Parking for this visit, I decided to the use the signal rock car park and take a wander over the “hill” to get to the Lochan, well a couple of wrong turns later I made it to the destination (via Signal Rock) Its another stunning and peaceful location. Between the heavy rain bursts I managed to get some photos I was happy with. I do love the autumn colours of the highlands. If there's one thing I love, its a reflection of trees and mountains in lochs. This is another reason I love the Kase filters I use, such a user friendly system and the results from them are awesome. The ND filters giving that lovely smooth finish to the water, and blending the clouds. The Kase filters also wipe clean easily thanks to the coating on them (I don't work for Kase I just love their system and the glass filters)
From here I took a wander along to another spot I had found in the photographers guide to Scotland. The Clachaig Falls on the River Coe. (Made a note to visit the Clachaig inn next time I'm up) These had also been given a pretty good bit of energy from the rainfall. To get the best photos you have to take a walk across the top of the rocks, thankfully my boots had some traction on the wet rock. I also found some good holes to lock my tripod in place, always a bonus.
It was beautiful to look down Glencoe with the waterfall, even tho a small one as the centrepiece and the low clouds brushing across the mountains.
From here is was back in the car and back to Glencoe Lochan. The weather was getting worse so I was lucky to catch a break in the showers and get the photos I wanted. It was a shame that there was some work going on on the water. This meant the level was a lot lower than last year and the jetties had dropped a bit so were unusable. But the exposed stones at the waters edge added a bit to the foreground. This is without doubt one of my favourite places to visit, and I would recommend it to anyone visiting Glencoe as a must see.
My big dog is still there in the woods as well
Back to the base camp to pack ready for the onward journey to Skye…
I am definitely going to make a stop in Glencoe on my next trip to Skye.
For the next time I have already made a list of the different places I want to visit…
Etive Mor waterfall
The Skyfall stop
The Blackrock Cottage
And that’s just to start… Its an area I really need to explore and next time I need to park more and walk further.