Beautiful Scenery Pictures. It's what Scotland does best
Impressive scenic pictures are easy to capture in Scotland. Big skies, tweedy shades on moor and mountain, ever-changing light. Lyrical or what? (You have to be in the right place at the right moment) Here are some examples where there were fine views in both directions!
Beautiful Scenery Pictures
Scotland is strongly associated with impressive scenery. It served the 'cult of the picturesque' that motivated early tourists and is touched on in the Trossachs pages on this site.
The scenic ingredients of bens and glens, lochs and rough woods have been thrilling visitors essentially since the start of the Romantic era before the end of the 18th century.
Originally, like scenic big game hunters, visitors 'bagged' wild and hence attractive landscapes sometimes using their Claude Glass - a small tinted and slightly convex mirror - that reflected and framed the scene which they then sketched or painted. (Claude Lorrain was a 17th-century landscape painter.
Though French by birth, he worked in Rome and was noted for his classical themes and also the tonal range of his technique.) Anyway, no early tourist kit was complete without one of these mirrors. Visitors with artistic aspirations created their own scenic compositions - ironically, by turning their back on the real view!
Anyway, I’ve ferreted through some of my photographs and found examples of where there are impressive views – but where there are also interesting landscapes looking in exactly the other direction. OK, it’s not quite the same as using a Claude glass, but you get the idea……
Beinn Sgritheall, from Skye
Here is Beinn Sgritheall on the mainland, viewed from the Isle of Skye, looking eastwards. Obviously, it’s autumn. It's taken from the Forestry Commission's Leitir Fura trail, which goes to an abandoned Highland Clearance village. (That link goes to a page describing another one.)
This part of the mainland coastline, 'opposite' Skye, and around Lochs Nevis and Hourn, including the Rough Bounds of Knoydart, has a certain mystique as it isn’t really accessible to casual road tourers. This is a long way of saying it hasn’t got any through-roads. It’s wild Scotland at its best.
...and the Cuillin Hills of Skye
Turning to face back into the island, the Cuillin Hills of Skye to the north-west are visible over the moors that form the base of the Sleat peninsula.
This was one of those late autumn days when high pressure calms everything down for a little while at least, even on the western seaboard.
Sadly, though, these two autumnal pictures were taken quite a few years ago, on the digital camera equivalent of, say, Stevenson's Rocket, in the days when you didn't get many pixels to play around with.
What are the chances of my standing on the same spot with the light as clear and being able to shoot these again with an up-to-date camera or phone?
Probably reasonable - so long as I was a Skye resident. But catching this kind of view in Scotland so often depend on being in the right place and then being lucky with the weather.
The Silver Sands of Morar
Another haunt of camera-carrying visitors, the famous white sands (or silver sands) of Morar have been photographed from every angle. This is a view around half-tide from a headland near Toigal (or Tougal) where the short River Morar meets the sea.
…..are more than just one beach
Turn round to face south and you find these delectable sandy inlets run off southwards, down to Back of Keppoch and beyond. These beaches became famous as the sands by the village of Ferness threatened by the planned oil refinery in the movie ‘Local Hero’ with Peter Riegert and Burt Lancaster.
Just as I put up this page, I remembered I also had a picture of where the last two pictures above were taken from – if you see what I mean. Here’s the headland mentioned, top right, taken when the tide was high and, as a bonus, the Jacobite summer steam-hauled train passing north towards Mallaig.
There is a whole genre of Scottish scenic pictures that are rugged, or bare and a little chilly even when the sun is shining. Or maybe that was how I was feeling when I took this picture.
The little mountain of Stac Pollaidh, on which I stand, may be small, but it’s eroding and crumbly, with lots of slightly scary rocks and pinnacles on it. Read about the day that we went to climb Stac Pollaidh. This mini-mountain is popular with walkers but demands respect. This view is looking eastwards towards Loch Lurgainn and the only slightly bigger little mountain of Cul Beag.
……a short hillwalk that’s not for the vertigo-prone!
Face the other direction and you get an even better impression of these western seaboard landscapes. These peaks are sandstone, mostly, standing on a plinth of gneiss – or, more accurately, Lewissian gneiss, one of the oldest rocks in the world.
The ancient glaciers scoured out the hollows that are now interlaced lochs, while the sandstone eroded into the weird terraced profiles that characterise the Inverpolly peaks.
This in turn I believe to have launched a thousand postcards from visitors over the years, each one having been unable to resist writing: ‘having a gneiss time in Scotland.’ This is essentially a variation on that other Scottish postcard greeting, originally describing the summit of Ben Nevis: ‘missed the view but viewed the mist’. Groan.
Finally, if you're on the hill featured here (below), then you should capture some pretty spectacular scenic stuff; or if you are chasing after Scotland's wildlife with a camera...then you're sure to get some landscapes as well.