In the beginning of September 2016 I embarked on a journey around the infamous North Coast 500 – being a landscape & travel photographer, it had long been on my list to photograph this remote area of Scotland with its breath-taking views, winding roads and jagged mountains.
After driving close to 1000 miles during my time there, I can safely say the North Coast 500 is an absolute dream for a photographer.
Starting in Inverness to pick up our rental car from Focus Vehicle Rental, me and my partner started our journey in a clock-wise direction with our first few stops being around the Applecross and the Torridon area.
Having made it through the windy Bealach na Bà, Britain’s third highest mountain pass, we were headed for Beinn Eighe – the plan was to set up camp at Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair, a remote Loch in the Beinn Eighe range that is reached after a 3-hour hike.
We had been lucky with the weather – it was just windy enough to chase away the midges, but not too windy to set up our tent. The view from the Loch over the surrounding landscape was simply stunning – besides a shy group of deer that suddenly appeared next to us, we had the entire area all to ourselves and I was struggling to put down my camera to capture everything.
We were glad to head to the cosy Kinlochewe Hotel the next day to catch up on some much needed sleep – just a short drive from the hotel towards Achnasheen we were lucky to find this viewpoint over the road leading to Loch Maree – definitely a vista worth stopping for.
One of our favourite parts along the journey was about to follow: The drive up north to Scourie via Ullapool and Unapool. If you find yourself in the situation of making this journey, double the estimated time because there is no way you’re not going to stop along the road to take in the views.
Along the route, at the parking lot where most people stop to hike up Quinag, we decided to take a walk in the other direction to find a hidden waterfall flowing out of a Loch not far from the road.
One of my favourite aspects about the North Coast 500 is that there are still numerous hidden gems like this one to be found – as a photographer it’s always rewarding to reach for the undiscovered.
On the journey up north, we had the pleasure of staying at Eddrachilles Hotel, a hidden retreat nestled in the forest near the coast, with stunning views over the sea.
Next on the route was John o’ Groats at the north-eastern end of the Scottish Highlands, right at the coast – the change of scenery was immediately noticeable on the way there.
The different hues of brown on the steep mountains turn into a flatter, green, farming landscape which is due to the different origins of the ground millions of years ago.
Along with this, there is also a change in the coast-line which is now characterised by jagged cliffs reaching 200ft in height. Watching the sun go down at the impressive Stacks of Duncansby was certainly one of the highlights of the trip and provided numerous photographic opportunities for me – there was just something about this historic coast-line that kept me fascinated.
Staying at the Natural Retreats Lodges definitely provided us with the best view over the sea – if it would not have been the last day, we would have definitely stayed longer, listening to the sound of the waves crashing right at our doorstep.
As we were packing the car, getting ready for our drive down to Inverness, I already knew the I will have to come back to this magical place in the future.
The North Coast 500 is simply a dream for a photographer – with so much diversity in the landscape, hidden views to be discovered and the constantly changing weather, it cannot really get any better. You will find yourself wanting to stop constantly, return to places because they appear entirely different in the evening light. There is simply an abundance of subjects to shoot in this area, from the windy roads, to remote cottages over to stunning mountains and cliff views.
Lastly, a special thanks to the below hotels for providing such fantastic accommodation:
Kinlochewe Hotel in Kinlochewe.
Eddrachilles Hotel in Badcall near Scourie.
Natural Retreats at John O’ Groats.
Also many thanks to Focus Vehicle Rental in Inverness for the outstanding customer service and the provided vehicle.