Lazy Photographer's Guide 08 - Western Scotland
by Chris Maddock
article is the eighth of a series of articles covering much
of the UK. It is basically a list of locations I have programmed
into my GPS Satellite Navigator - most of which I have visited,
the rest being other places I intend to get to some day. It
is not a comprehensive guide to Western Scotland, only the
parts I have been to and photographed - or intend to.
It will not contain any photographs, the intention being simply
to provide information about location, access and likely subjects.
I have photographs of many of the locations in my galleries
if you want to see what you could see before setting out.
called it The Lazy Photographer's Guide since most of the
locations are less than half a mile from road access.
Sisters of Kintail
GR NG 909 201
The 5 Sisters of Kintail form a spectacular high ridge north
of Glen Shiel between Loch Duich and Loch Cluanie. Of them,
three are full Munros - discrete mountains over 3000 feet
in height - whilst the other two are subsidiary Munro summits,
still over 3000 feet but without a minimum drop of 500 feet
between them and their neighbours.
- this fine view is from a car park off the Glenelg road,
above Loch Duich. From the A87 "Road to the Isles",
turn off at Shiel Bridge on the road to Glenelg. After about
half a mile, keep left and follow the road as it climbs up
through coniferous forests. About a mile further on, the road
takes a series of tight turns as it climbs steeply. The car
park and picnic site is on the outside of the first left-hand
bend after a tight right-hand (almost hairpin) bend.
to see - this location gives fine views of the 5 Sisters of
Kintail, Shiel Bridge, Loch Duich and up the lower part of
GR NG 836 386
A coastal village on the shore of Loch Kishorn
- From the A896 Lochcarron-Torridon road, about four miles
west of Lochcarron, turn off just after Sanachan for Ardarroch.
Achintraid is about a mile beyond Ardarroch on the same road.
to see - there are various places that you can pull of the
road, affording views of Loch Kishorn and the mountains opposite.
At Achintraid you can access the shore for beach detail shots
GR NN 268 529
Just off the A82 road between Rannoch Moor and Glencoe this
must be the most photographed cottage in Scotland.
- From the A82, take the road south signposted for the Ski
Centre. The cottage is less than half a mile down on the right,
with room to park opposite
to see - the cottage with Buachaille Etive Mor behind in the
distance, assuming that visibility is good that is. From here
you can also get views of Rannoch Moor to the North-East.
Before rejoining the main road, pull off by the junction for
views in all directions, particularly West with Buachaille
Etive Mor dominating the skyline.
GR NN 244 543
Buachaille Etive Mor is probably one of the best-recognised
mountains in Western Scotland amongst photographers.
- From the A82, take the road south signposted for Glen Etive
and Loch Etive. Less than half a mile down, just before the
road crosses a small bridge, there is a layby on the left
with room for three or four cars.
to see - there are a multitude of possible views here, all
including the mountain itself. A path opposite the layby leads
alongside the river where you can find many angles with small
waterfalls for foreground interest. If you cross the bridge
you can shoot from on the bridge, or drop down to the left
or right on the far side to get down to the river level. From
the downstream side, you can get low enough to get the mountain
framed by the gorge and the bridge.
GR NM 924 474
On an island at the mouth of Loch Laich, Castle Stalker is
one of the many clan castles of Western Scotland. Originally
built by the Stewarts in the 1400s it's passed between the
Stewart and Campbell clans several times.
- the castle can be seen from the A828 between Ballachulish
and Connel, about halfway along at Portnacroish. There is
a small layby at the above grid reference from which there
is a good view looking down at the castle
to see - apart from the view from the layby, there are various
other views in the area - from the old railway trackbed and
from the Port Appin road. The castle is open to visit from
time to time, details here.
GR NG 882 258
Probably the most photographed castle in Western Scotland,
Eilean Donan lies at the mouths of Loch Duich and Loch Long.
Originally built in the 13th century, by the Mackenzies and
the MacReas, it was occupied by Spanish troops in 1719 attempting
to start another Jacobite Rising. The castle was recaptured
then destroyed by bombardment from three Royal Navy frigates.
Between 1912 and 1932 the castle was restored and the arched
bridge added to give access. It remains the home of the Clan
MacRea and is open to the public from April to October.
- the main car park is off the A87 "Road to the Isles"
just south-east of Dornie, and is well signposted. If you
miss the signs, the castle itself is a dead giveaway. For
an alternative view, park by the Dornie village hall, on the
opposite side of the A87 road bridge from the castle.
to see - the castle itself, with fine views across Loch Duich
and down Loch Alsh towards Skye. The castle is at its best
if you are fortunate to get a good sunset at high tide on
a calm day, with the castle floodlights turned on. Dornie
is also worth a look, especially from the far side of the
GR NN 166 569
A dramatic glaciated valley between Rannoch Moor and the coast
at Loch Leven, Glen Coe is a photographer's dream - or nightmare
if, as often happens, the weather is less than kind.
- the A82 Glasgow-Inverness road runs through the glen with
several parking places and laybys available.
to see - dramatic highland scenery, flora and fauna.
GR NG 946 211
An attractive valley where the River Croe discharges into
the head of Loch Duich.
- taking the A87 "Road to the Isles" north and west,
there is a causeway across the foot of Glen Croe just north
of Shiel Bridge. Shortly after the end of the causeway is
a turning on the right for Morvich. Upon taking this turning
you will come to a car park on the right after a couple of
hundred yards. A path leads from this up onto a small hill
topped by the war memorial.
to see - great views up and across Glen Croe, especially at
high tide on a still day for reflections in the water. The
ruined church and graveyard below the memorial. Turning the
other way, you also get a good view across Loch Duich
Shiel old bridge
GR NG 991 131
The site of the Battle of Glenshiel in 1719, where the Spanish
occupiers of Eilean Donan castle were finally defeated, the
main road has been diverted but the old bridge remains, nestling
in the bottom of the glen.
- on the A87 "Road
to the Isles" between
Shiel Bridge and Loch Cluanie, the bridge is roughly midway
between the two. There is a layby on the north side of the
to see - the bridge, river and the dramatic scenery around
GR NG 811 192
Glenelg lies on the mainland side of the Sound of Sleat. A
ferry runs from Glenelg across to Skye in the summer months.
- From the A87 "Road to the Isles", turn off at
Shiel Bridge on the road signposted to Glenelg. As you approach
Glenelg keep left for the village, or right for the ferry
crossing to Skye. If you carry on down the coast road south,
you eventually get good views of Loch Hourn too.
to see - the beach with views across the Sound of Sleat to
Skye, beach flora and fauna.
GR NG 867 344
The next sea loch north of Kyle of Lochalsh, Loch Carron offers
some fine views. In May/June the north-western shore can give
good displays of thrift in flower.
- the loch is bounded by the A890, which links the A87 at
Auchertyre with the A892 at Achnasheen, and the A896 to Torridon.
One good viewpoint is a large layby above Stromeferry at the
grid ref above. For a lower angle across Strome Narrows, you
can take the side road down to Stromeferry. Note, despite
the name, there is actually no ferry.
to see - the loch with spectacular mountains on the far side
and Strome Castle ruins directly across from Stromeferry.
GR NH 134 099
A large reservoir beside the A87 "Road to the Isles"
- Take the A87 "Road to the Isles" and you'll find
Loch Cluanie just to the east of the head of Glen Shiel. There
are several laybys along the loch shore.
to see - the loch has spectacular views, both of it and of
the mountains around. On a still day, it can offer some great
GR NN 107 449
Loch Etive is a long sea loch south of Glen Coe. There is
no road running all the way down Glen Etive, you can only
get to the head of the loch from Glen Coe. Alternatively the
lower stretches can be accessed from the A85 near Oban.
- for the head of the loch and Glen Etive, take the Glen Etive
road from the A82 at the top of Glen Coe and follow it all
the way to the end.
to see - the loch and typical highland flora and fauna.
Glen Etive, en route, is particularly picturesque, so it's
well worth not rushing down to the loch.
GR NH 211 028
Loch Garry lies beside the A87 "Road to the Isles",
just outside Invergarry. Like many of the lochs in the area,
it is a reservoir but is still very attractive.
- take the A87 out of Invergarry. The grid ref above is a
good viewpoint up above the loch, offering a spectacular view
up the glen to the mountains in the distance. From down the
hill (towards Invergarry) there is a side road that leads
along the north shore of the loch, and a bit further down
is a layby (not easy to spot if the undergrowth is high) where
you can get down to the water's edge.
to see - the loch and surrounding mountains/scenery, flora
GR NN 093 586
Loch Leven lies at the foot of Glen Coe, offering fine views
of Glen Coe and the mountains around.
- the grid ref above is for a sailing club on the A82 just
outside Glencoe village. There is a layby near the head of
the slipway and you can walk down to the loch shore to get
views up and down the loch. For views up Glen Coe and of the
Pap of Glencoe, cross the Ballachulish Bridge and take the
B863 from North Ballachulish along the loch north shore. This
road runs right around the loch and back to Glencoe if you
to see - the loch and mountains around, including the Pap
of Glencoe. Boats on the loch and appropriate flora &
GR NH 069 024
Another reservoir, but well worth a look.
- take the A87 out of Invergarry and take the turning on the
left a couple of miles along Loch Garry. Follow this road
beyond the head of Loch Garry and continue until you reach
the dam of Loch Quioch.
to see - the loch and the surrounding landscape. Apparently
there is a bridge halfway up the loch, just past which in
the winter the keepers put food out for the deer so it's possible
to get good shots of them. I haven't had the chance to check
this out yet though.
GR NG 803 333
A traditional Scottish fishing village at the mouth of Loch
Carron, which has been used for many TV and film purposes,
notably the BBC series Hamish Macbeth.
- Head for Kyle of Lochalsh and follow signs to Plockton.
to see - the village and harbour, with views up Loch Carron.
There are boat trips to see seals and otters, one of which
guarantees that you will see seals or you don't pay.
alternative view of Plockton can be had from the platform
at Duncraig station. As you approach Plockton, turn right
then take the 2nd left for the station. It's a dirt track
most of the way down and just short of the station, bear left.
The right-hand fork leads to a bridge over the railway and
is blocked off. There is room to turn and park at the station.
GR NN 308 495
A fine example of highland moorland, dotted with numerous
- the A82 Glasgow-Inverness road runs across Rannoch Moor,
except when the road is closed due to heavy snow. There are
several laybys available in both directions, from which the
lochans are accessible on foot.
to see - the moor, lochans and surrounding hills. Moorland
flora and fauna. On a still day, the lochans offer some great
GR NG 920 197
On the south shore of Loch Duich, Ratagan and the road along
the loch shore offer good views of the loch and mountains.
- From the A87 "Road to the Isles", turn off at
Shiel Bridge on the road signposted to Glenelg. After half
a mile, take the turning on the right for the Ratagan road.
to see - fine views across the loch, including the 5 Sisters
of Kintail with (if you're in luck) a good reflection.
GR NG 862 354
A ruined castle overlooking Strome Narrows on Loch Carron
- take the A890/896 past Loch Carron and turn left in Lochcarron
village to take the minor road down the north shore of the
loch. The castle is about 4 miles down the road.
to see - the castle ruins, Loch Carron, Stromeferry across
Strome Narrows and views across to Raasay and Skye.