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      Colin Prior’s Top 10 Photography Locations in Scotland

      5 min read

      By Colin Prior
      More by Colin

      A question that I’m often asked is ‘Where is your favourite location in Scotland?

      It’s a simple question, but it’s not that straightforward to answer. It reminds me a bit of the answer to another question when I was travelling overseas, extensively; ‘How did you find that location when you were in, say, Kenya?’ The answer was ‘I went to Kenya because I knew that location was there – had it been in Tanzania or Zimbabwe, I would have gone there.’ It was the uniqueness of the locations I sought, rather than a specific country.

      In Scotland, the same holds true and generally speaking Wester Ross in the North West Highlands has, what I consider, to have some of the best locations in Scotland. It’s the combination of remoteness, distance from population centres and importantly, the character of the landscape. Diverse, angular mountains with deep glens and fjords run out to sea. Above Ullapool, the landscapes of Coigach and Assynt present smaller but enigmatic mountains which are defined as much by the space between them as by their diverse shapes.

      Watch a film and interview with Colin about his photographic journey.

      Beyond Wester Ross, there a few other ‘soft-spots’ I have – the Knoydart Peninsula and the Small Isles of the Inner Hebrides would be one – the islands of Muck, Eigg, Rum and Canna, each unique in their own charming way. On the mainland, the deep defile of Loch Hourn which cuts its way deeply between Beinn Sgritheall on its north side and Ladhar Beinn on its south. And finally, there’s the mountain landscapes of the Isle of Skye and the wild Hebridean seascapes of Lewis and Harris.

      So, here’s a short summary of some of my favourites spots.

      1. Assynt - Suilven

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      Suilven, Glencanisp Forest, Assynt, Scotland

      Suilven, often called ‘Sugarloaf’, due to its enigmatic shape when seen from the north-west. The landscape of Assynt is world-class and is up there with Patagonia’s Torres del Paine, Namibia’s Sossusvlei and Utah’s Arches National Park. No two mountains look the same and present the photographer with a plethora of photographic opportunities.

      2. Assynt – Achnahaird Bay

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      Assynt – Achnahaird Bay

      Seen from the south-west, the mountains of Coigach and Assynt take on a very different perspective, particularly when seen across Enard Bay. The clear waters of the bay are a haven for bird life with divers, goosanders and eider ducks patrolling the shallows.

      – Browse the itinerary for a photography holiday here with Colin this year.

      3. Bay of Laig, Eigg

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      Concretions, Laig Bay, Isle of Eigg, Small Isles, Scotland

      Lying on the western side of Eigg, the Bay of Laig is one of the most unique beaches in the UK. It features cannonball concretions which have dropped out of the sandstone in which they grew and lie like giant chess pieces, in what I refer to as the Giant’s Chessboard. The combination of these spherical shapes and the backdrop of Rum beyond create great potential for wide-angle photography.

      Browse the itinerary of Colin’s photography holiday here.

      4. Puffins, Sanday

      colin prior photography locations

      Puffin flyby at Sanday.

      Puffin fly-by’s above the basalt stack on which they nest. Standing on the adjacent cliffs, an onshore wind blew the puffins close to our position on the adjacent cliff top where we able to photograph them as they sped past. Obviously, a difficult subject to capture and I resorted to manual focusing which seemed to be the best option.

      5. Old Man of Storr, Skye

      Colin Prior Photography Locations 10

      The Old Man of Storr and his Satellites, Trotternish Ridge, Isle of Skye, Highland, Scotland

      Rising vertically from the hillside, this granite obelisk cuts the air like a sword. Formed, over the millennia, by a series of landslides into a haunting landscape in which an air of mystery and intrigue broods. Endless photographic opportunities entice the photographer to return again and again and it took me many years before I finally managed to capture the images which existed in my mind’s eye.

      Read on for the itinerary and imagery from a photography holiday here with Colin.

      6. Torridon across Inner Sound, Skye

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      Applecross Forest from Ob Breakish, Skye, Scotland

      There’s very little in the world of photography that’s elicits such a powerful response from the public than a great sunrise or sunset. Personally, I am fascinated by the psychology that underlies that thought but beyond that it’s still immensely satisfying to be outdoors and to experience such rare moments during the wee hours of the morning or evening. It’s all about convergence – the landscape, the conditions, the composition, the symmetry, and the fact that I was there at that particular moment, which wasn’t an accident. Aligning yourself and the elements is all about managing chance.

      7. Luskentyre across Traigh Seilebost, Harris

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      Luskentyre, Traigh Seilebost, Harris.

      From the photographer’s perspective Harris captures, so readily, the essence of the Hebrides – constantly changing light and a palette of colour that changes accordingly – great in direct sunlight and high contrast as seen here but equally good in overcast light and I’ve even seen the most beautiful soft, pastel colours when it was raining lightly.

      8. Mangersta, Lewis

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      Eilean Molach, Mangestra, Lewis.

      Exposed to huge Atlantic swells that roll in on south-westerlies, the gneiss coastline is constantly bombarded with colossal waves that erodes the coastline. White-tailed and golden eagles are regularly seen patrolling the sea cliffs and adjacent mountains which introduces yet another aspect to the experience. Whilst I am passionate about wildlife, I have never considered myself a wildlife photographer and see wildlife as another element of the landscape. My hope is that when people look at one of my landscape images, it elicits the idea that it is a place in which it would be possible to see, as in this image, a white-tailed eagle.

      9. An Teallach, Fisherfield Forest

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      An Teallach, Fisherfield Forest, Dundonnell, Scotland.

      Another good example of convergence – again it was no coincidence that I was standing in the right place at the right time by accident. I’d reccied this on a previous occasion, been there on at least two earlier sunrises and failed but here in the pre-dawn light I managed to capture the Belt of Venus, or the anti-twilight arch above An Teallach. These intense colours are true and occur, if conditions dictate, about twenty minutes before sunrise and which transform the ordinary into the extra-ordinary.

      10. Liathach, Loch Clair, Torridon

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      Liathach And Loch Clair, Glen Torridon.

      Over the years, I have stood on countless occasions on the edge of Loch Clair to photograph Liathach. Its location is not far from the road and not content with the relative ease, I spent some time recce-ing the surrounding landscape, including the mountain to the south, Stob Dubh but could find no point that offered a better and more appealing composition as that from the edge of Loch Clair. On this particular morning, perfect conditions prevailed and I waited until the sun had risen sufficiently high to change the scene from one dominated by shadow into one dominated by light. By chance the diminishing shadow of Stob Dubh projected onto Liathach happened to be exactly in the middle, creating a perfect symmetry.

      See Colin's photography workshops trips below

      Meet the Author: Colin Prior

      “One of the world's leading landscape photographers. Colin has been striving to communicate the wonder of the world's natural places for over 30 years.”

      View profileMore by Colin

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