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Author Topic: Scotland  (Read 9234 times)
Brad Smith
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« on: April 03, 2012, 10:36:52 AM »
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I'm planning a ~12-day trip to Scotland in late May or early June. I'm using Frommer's as a guide book as it seems to be the best over a couple of others I purchased here in the States. I've put together a tentative itinerary that includes Glasgow, Stirling, Callander/Aberforyle (for access to the Trossachs), Fort William, Inverness, Skye, Oban, Ayr and back to Glasgow Airport. I like the country more than the cities and normally shoot landscapes, but also enjoy ruins and travel photography in general. I would appreciate hearing about any "not to miss" sites, and thanks in advance for any recommendations.
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francois
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« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2012, 11:10:28 AM »
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I cannot give you "not to miss" sites but I enjoyed the isle of Skye a lot.

Wim van Velzen, who posts here on the forum, has some nice galleries:

Scotland - highlands
Scotlands - islands

Be sure to ready for wind and rain but Scotland is well worth it!
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Francois
Ian99
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« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2012, 09:34:54 AM »
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As an ex-Glaswegian who has recently done a 4 week photo-shoot around Scotland, I offer the following comments:

With the sole exception of one in Kirkwall, Orkney, avoid B&Bs. Pay a little more for a hotel room, especially one owned by a chain and you will have a much more enjoyable experience. In general the Scots have zero understanding of service or comfort.

Having said that:

1.   Your first challenge will be finding your way out of Glasgow Airport. Don’t stay in town but drive North through the Trossachs, Rannoch Moor, and stay at the Clachaig Inn in Glencoe for two nights. From here you will get ample mountains, decent food, and can do day trips to Oban (not much there), Castle Stalker, Kilchurn etc.
2.   Go to Skye and stay in Broadford. On the way you must stop at Eilean Donan Castle at Dornie (do not even think of staying at the B&B in Dornie!). Skye can take a lot of time but in my view the drive to Elgol in the South is spectacular and then you get a stunning view of the Cuillins from there. You can even take a small boat ride across the loch to Lake Coruisk and walk into the Cuillins.
3.   Unless you have an emotional reason to go to Culloden, I would give Inverness a miss as there is little there other than the World’s worst traffic system. Instead cross country and head for Stonehaven and go to Dunnottar. On the way you can do Corgarff, Crathes, and Brodie (with a spectacular Pictish stone in the driveway). You will not be short of old castles anywhere around here.
4.   South to St Andrews for both the ruined abbey and the famous golf course.
5.   Then Edinburgh, which is well worth 3 days. The history, old roads and buildings are really good. One day do the castle and walk down the Royal Mile, the next day do the old Grassmarket area. Rose Street has excellent pubs. The National Museum next to Greyfriars Bobby is well worth a visit.
6.   If time permits, head East to Tantallon and Bass Rock, then South to Jedburgh for the ruined abbey. As a challenge try finding Smailholm on the way.
7.   Then back to Glasgow. Take a bus tour around the city centre, there is a splendid variety of architectural styles, but not much else. The poorer districts can be dangerous for rich tourists.

With the exception of beer and fish & chips, everything else is very expensive – roughly 2-3 times a US price so plan accordingly. The roads are very good. People drive very fast on the wrong side of the road but the driving habits are far superior to US ones.
You can check out my pics in the “Scotland’s Landscape” gallery on www.whitepixels.ca
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markadams99
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« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2012, 03:21:46 PM »
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My experience with Highland b+b's is excellent.

Here are 4 which I've used in Torridon and Ullapool areas of the Highlands. All made me happy:

http://www.aurora-bedandbreakfast.co.uk

http://www.ferroch.co.uk/

http://www.bvegb.co.uk/

http://www.easter-badbea.co.uk/
« Last Edit: April 04, 2012, 05:53:58 PM by markadams99 » Logged

bobtowery
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« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2012, 01:35:43 PM »
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I plan to be in Scotland around the same time, June 9-15. Right now I plan on 3-4 nights each in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Will have the wife with me so I'm not going to be photographing intensely there.

(Landscape shooting will come afterward in Ireland.) 

Ian, thanks for your input, very helpful.

Appreciate all help. Would like to get up to the Trossachs since it is so close, but I don't fancy hiring my own car.

Bob Towery
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Ian99
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« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2012, 07:27:11 PM »
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Bob, if you are not going to hire a car then you should seriously think about a Rail Pass from BritRail. I met many people who were travelling around Scotland this way and they said it was very convenient and the views were magnificent (given good weather of course).  You might try the route which goes past Hogwarts!
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Brad Smith
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« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2012, 05:20:47 AM »
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Thanks everyone for your detailed inputs. I'm going to sort through them all and integrate them into my itinerary. Then I'm going to make sure I have my windbreaker and raincoat packed Smiley.
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Chris Pollock
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« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2012, 10:18:34 PM »
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I did a tour of Scotland a few years ago, and can offer a few suggestions.

The biggest problem that I had was the weather. As you've no doubt heard, it rains frequently in Scotland, and when it's not raining it's usually overcast. Sunny days in the highlands are exquisite, but unfortunately rare. You should plan to do a lot of your landscape photography under cloudy skies. I found HDR to be a useful technique. You'll want to take a sturdy tripod, because the dim light necessitates longish exposures, and the wind in the Highlands is often strong. The ground can be quite spongy, so it's not ideal for holding your tripod steady.

I strongly recommend renting a car if possible. I didn't try it myself, but I imagine travelling around the Highlands by public transport would be a hassle. With your own car you can wander freely, and stop whenever you see anything of interest. It also makes carrying your gear much easier. The only problem is that much of the landscape is so photogenic that you'll never cover any distance if you stop for every interesting view. Most cars in Britain have manual transmission, but you should be able to hire an automatic for a little extra if you prefer. Parking shouldn't be a problem. Even in the few places where you have to pay for parking, the cost isn't unreasonable.

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GuzziRob
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« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2012, 02:50:14 PM »
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Hi,

I only left Scotland a couple of years ago (only so far as the Lake District just south of the border mind!).  I would absolutely head into the Trossachs, stunning scenery and very easy to access.  Callander is a decent place to base yourself for a day or two with plenty of options for eating/drinking.

From there I would continue up through Crainlarich/Tyndrum and onto Glencoe.  The drop into the glen from Rannoch Moor is jaw droppingly beautiful.  I would second staying at the Clachaig for a couple of days - it remains one of my favourite hostelries in Scotland (a slight hangover from my mountaineering days).  From there I would head down into Argyll for a brief visit to Kilmartin Glen - loads of ancient sites that sit well in the landscape and well worth a visit.  Pop to The Isle of Siel on the way past too before heading up the coast and stop in either Fort William or (even better) Mallaig.  A couple of days in the latter is worth your while as the landscape around there is fantastic.

From Mallaig you can get the ferry over to the south of Skye, head up and stop off either in Broadford (easy access to Elgol), The Sligachan Inn (right at the foot of the Cullins) or up to Portreigh which gives easy access to the Trotternish Ridge.  All wonderful places that you could easily while away a day or three!

Next stop - Uig on Skye and get the ferry over to Harris.  The beaches have to be seen to be believed - white sands, azure sea and wild, wild landscapes.  Callanish Stone Circle is worth visiting up on Lewis too as you head to Stornoway as a good place to stay.   The ferry from Stornoway takes you back over to Ullapool on the mainland from where you can tour up through some of the most dramatic and remote scenery in Scotland (that north west corner is my favourite area of mainland Scotland) with old ruinous castles, majestic mountains and wonderful beaches.  Accomodation is a little more scarce but you can always find a B&B in the small villages.

I would be tempted to pop over to Orkney for a couple of days to see the ancient monuments, sea cliffs and stacks and a very different human landscape that exists on the islands (and that really is my favourite part of Scotland, although I am biased!).

Then head back down the A9 stopping off at anywhere that takes your fancy.  Personally I love Inverness and would spend a night there, and probably another night or two in the Cairngorms. 

Stirling (the last place I lived) is good, but I prefer Perth just slightly further north myself and would be tempted to stop off there before returning to Glasgow.

I basically followed that route over a fortnight a couple of years ago on my motorbike.  Absolutely wonderful trip although photographs from it are few and far between as it was incredibly wet!

Enjoy though, superb time of year to be going and hopefully you will get the weather and stunning light that Scotland can dole out.  As an aside, the Northern Lights have been relatively active thus far this year so keep that in mind!  Sign up to Aurora Watch in the UK - you get email alerts regarding activity.

Oh and B&Bs in Scotland are wonderful, welcoming and generally comfortable.  Yes there are exceptions, but by and large I love spending time in them and small guest houses.  Hotels leave me cold - you rarely get the great personal experience and meet new people whilst staying in them (or at least that is what I have found!)

Rob
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Ian99
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« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2012, 06:34:47 PM »
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Years ago, the official Scottish Highlands Tourist Board put out a brochure which said
“People seem to think that it rains a lot in the Highlands. We think that it is sunny several times a day!”.
Be warned.
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GuzziRob
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« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2012, 03:16:45 PM »
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lol Ian, if you get some sun then it is a bonus in Scotland!

That said, I always felt that the Highlands and Islands looked more dramatic in the stormy weather and rain than under azure blue skies ;-)
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t6b9p
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« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2012, 10:47:45 AM »
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thanks Ian and Rob for the useful info.

I will be leaving on May 8th for 7 weeks and plan to spend some time in Scotland. I had several of the places you mentioned on my list but I have one particular question on Clachaig Inn. As part of my trip my brother (who still lives in the UK) and I will be doing a variation of the 3 peaks challenge by taking the more difficult arete routes (Crib Goch/Snowdon, Carn Mor Dearg/Ben Nevis and Mickledore/Scafell Pike) and in addition to them we also hope to complete other arete routes at Liathach, Ring of Steall and Aonach Eagach.

With regards to Aonach Eagach near the Clachaig Inn, the "trail" is a one way trail and requires transportation from the destination to get back to our car. Anyone have any idea whether there is a bus service or other "arrangeable" transportation that runs in the evening?

My brother and I are both photographers and look forward to the scenery and ancient structures but we are faced with difficult decisions with regards to limiting our camera equipment due to the technical challenge of some of the arete routes.
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GuzziRob
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« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2012, 01:18:29 PM »
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From the Clachaig I would get the bus to the far end of the Aonach Eagach then finish back at the pub.

Just a quick one though... it is quite likely to be in full winter conditions (as is the Nevis Range and the like).  You are probably aware and competent given your list of planned ascents in the region, but a lot of people get caught out each year and it ends badly.

Scottish Winter Mountaineering is bloody ace though ;-)  Shame I have hung my crampons and ice axes up for the moment, miss those summits!
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t6b9p
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« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2012, 02:35:42 PM »
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thanks Rob

we have two windows of opportunity for the aretes in Scotland, May 12-20th and June 9-17th. Possibly a third short window June 2nd-8th. Depending on weather we will possibly push Aonach Eagach and other similar trails into the June window BUT if the weather in Scotland turns out to be great that first window, then we will go for it.

Rob , as you live in the LD now, another question on Scafell Pike/Scafell - any idea if the Lords Rake approach to Scafell is closed due to the massive rock perched at the top?
« Last Edit: May 02, 2012, 02:38:16 PM by t6b9p » Logged
GuzziRob
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« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2012, 03:09:45 PM »
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I believe it is passable, but not been up there myself in many... many years (this is going on rumour, pretty sure I heard someone had been that way recently but I can't remember who it was or I would ask)!

Having had a look at some of the photographs of the rock fall though I would think if you are going to hit the Scottish ridges it should be doable ;-)  The Aonach is more of a mountaineering expedition than a fell walk at the best of times (serious exposure and some scrambling/climbing moments needed) but absolutely worth it!

Fingers crossed you get lucky with the Scottish routes - the weather that time of year can be stunning... or wild!

Just wish I was getting into the Highlands again soon.  Perhaps next year when things calm down a bit.  Need to get home to Orkney!
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Ian99
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« Reply #15 on: May 02, 2012, 05:00:29 PM »
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For the non climbers looking at this thread, take a peek at the video on

http://www.livefortheoutdoors.com/Videos/Search-Results/Mountaineering/Aonach-Eagach-in-winter-what-its-like/

It looks like a doddle!
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Chairman Bill
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« Reply #16 on: May 02, 2012, 05:28:31 PM »
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The AE ridge - scary stuff in those conditions. So many people do it so that they finish at the Pap of Glencoe end, but the descent there is really nasty at the end of a long, tiring day. The ridge is not for the faint-hearted.

If you stop at the Glachaig Inn, do try the Froach - an ale flavoured with heather rather than hops; gorgeous stuff. And if you want a route less demanding than the Aonach Eagach ridge, so long as the streams/rivers aren't in spate, there's a great route on the other side of the Glen, taking a route from the A82, up through the Three Sisters of Glencoe, up along Coire nan Lochan towards Stob Coire Lochan, Bidean nam Bian, and Stob Coire Sgreamhach, with options to either return via the Allt Coire Gabhail, or a lengthier route taking you on towards Dalness, then returning to the A82 via the Lairig Eilde.

There's plenty of stunning views (on a clear day), fantastic mountain scenery, and some cracking waterfalls.
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GuzziRob
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« Reply #17 on: May 03, 2012, 06:28:18 AM »
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I was going to mention that - Bidean is probably my favourite mountain in Glencoe.  Just love that climb, summer or winter!

Rob
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Chairman Bill
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« Reply #18 on: May 03, 2012, 01:22:40 PM »
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Last time I was there was in May two or three years ago - foul weather, rain, hail, sleet, snow onthe tops, & high winds. The AE ridge was out of the question, and my foray to Bidean was defeated by heavily swollen rivers. The Glachaig did well out of me though.

Next time it will be better weather - I've spoken to the weather gods
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GuzziRob
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« Reply #19 on: May 03, 2012, 03:14:05 PM »
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It was great when I was living 45 minutes down the road ;-)

Now I have The Old Man of Coniston instead, which just isn't the same!
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