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Scotland’s Highlands in Autumn
2022 Trip Report

I have been eagerly awaiting this tour far longer than I ever imagined. Finally, it is here, and Scotland is glorious in all its moods and fall colours.

I first scouted this tour with local guide Warwick Lister-Kaye in 2019. We criss-crossed the western highlands several times, finding sun, wind, rain, clouds, and magnificently moody landscapes everywhere. Then COVID struck. And the tour was delayed. Not once, but twice.

It is now three years since we scouted the tour and I admit, my memory of my favourite photography locations has faded. As it turns out, Warwick, who grew up here and has spent his life guiding here, feels the same. “I sure hope we can remember all those locations,” he tells me. Fortunately, our memory is better than expected. With help from driver Tobias Leask (another born, raised and colorful local) we scour our maps and pinpoint the locations we want to photograph.

It’s time to travel!

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Our tour is often overcast and damp — this is Scotland, clouds and rain are expected. In fact, the clouds and intermittent sunshine really accent the dramatic hills and valleys. More to the point, we rarely suffer any significant rainfall while out photographing the lochs, streams, and hills. Instead, we are treated to constantly morphing views, replete with moody clouds, shafts of brilliant sunlight, and vast fields of green, dotted with fall colors. If the light isn’t to our liking, we wait a few minutes – it is certain to change.

At one point we are driving alongside Loch Ness, near Urquhart Castle, and we see this monstrous cascade thundering down a hillside opposite the loch. We quickly find a convenient pullover and spend a half hour capturing this magnificent waterfall. The tour is very flexible – we can stop almost anywhere at any time.

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The Isle of Skye always produces some amazing images. Despite being one of the wetter areas of Scotland, the clouds are constantly shifting, and skies can clear in just a few minutes. We drive through a moderate rain and dark, dreary skies, arriving at the Quirang with damp spirits and just a hint of clearing in the west. So, we visit a nearby dinosaur museum (yes, Scotland had dinosaurs and yes, Tobias and Warwick know just about every interesting hidey-hole in the highlands). A half hour later the rain is gone, the clouds banished to the horizons, and the Quirang is bathed in beautiful light. Our cameras are busy for the rest of the day.

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While this tour is primarily a landscape tour, there are many diversions. At several locations we stop to photograph red deer (it’s the rutting season) and charismatic highland cows. We capture a full rainbow over a sunlit field full of sheep. We also make our share of photographs of Eilean Donan Castle, reputed to be the most photographed castle in the world. I have dozens of photographs of this beautiful structure and no two are the same as the light and clouds are constantly shifting.

We return to our amazing accommodation near Inverness with our camera cards full and our rain gear (mostly) dry. It’s been a great tour. I look forward to next year!

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