After a long and slow change from the crisp autumn weather, winter had made itself known in Edinburgh with short, dark rainy days and bitterly cold temperatures but with none of the beautiful snowy scenes we had seen in picture books. This had really brought our mood down as it was hard to get out and enjoy the place with such short hours of daylight and such poor weather. However through December and January, a series of short getaways finally brought us what we were waiting for!

Road Trip to the Isle of Skye

For a change, I spent the drive out to Skye in the passenger seat, nursing a rather sore head from the company Christmas party the night before, however my head quickly cleared when we were greeted with an unexpected sight as we reached the higher ground on the edge of the Cairngorms- a beautiful covering of fresh snow!

The Isle of Skye itself was nearly deserted when we arrived, at the peak of the off-season for tourism, which let us to tour the island almost uninterrupted and explore its beautifully dramatic landscapes- very Scottish yet somehow slightly alien and foreign to anything we had encountered on the mainland. The most striking memory of this place was the incredibly dynamic light, which was so constant in its changing that at times it felt like we were walking through a time-lapse film. This made photography challenging but also very rewarding, and also kept us second guessing how to dress any activities and walks we had planned! I set myself up with an adventurous mountain bike ride- through the Quiraing rock formation, which will probably remain as one of the most incredible landscapes I have ever conquered on a bike.

A Quiet New Years Day

As we had not partied late into the night like much of the country had for ‘Hogmanay’, we once again revelled in the opportunity to explore a nearly deserted countryside the next morning, taking in our favourite drive over Rannoch Moor and into Glencoe where we had a picnic lunch by the Glencoe Lochan before taking a short walk to the Grey Mare’s waterfall in Kinlochleven. Whilst it does not look anywhere near as daunting as the wire bridge we crossed previously at Steall Falls, the little metal rod and wire handrail proved to be a solid nerve tester as we climbed over the slick rocks and icy waters!

Birthday Weekend in the Cairngorms

For my Birthday weekend, we booked a weekend away to explore the Cairngorms, an area we had previously only ever passed through on the main roads. Our little cabin in the woods outside Nethy Bridge was the perfect place to base ourselves, and as we arrived later in the afternoon we promptly lit the fire, put the kettle on and played Scrabble until the sun went down.

Dinner was booked for us at the Fife Arms Hotel, Braemar, and as if the ‘highland’ atmosphere wasn’t enough from our afternoon in the cabin- our one hour drive through the moonlit mountains to this stunning establishment soon topped it! The starting with a drink ‘Flying Stag Bar’ (named so for good reason!) before moving through to the Dining Room for an amazing luxurious dining experience we will not forget! We enjoyed this place so much, we changed our plans the following day to ensure we could visit again for lunch, after having walked up an appetite- taking in the amazing scenery at Loch Muick, a part of the extensive Royal Balmoral Estate. Our drive home took us through some of the higher peaks of the Cairngorms, where the majority of Scotland’s lifted Ski-pistes can be found, however there was only a little snow, the conditions were more suited for photography thanks skiing!

White-out in Glen Etive

A goal we had from the outset of our trip was to be able to visit the highlands in the snow and get some ‘proper’ landscape photos of some snowy vistas. Whilst we had seen snow enough times by this point, it was usually a light dusting and we were never in the ‘right place at the right time to truly capture what we had imagined. However in late February, the weather had brought some late-season snow showers to Edinburgh on a few occasions, although mainly during the working week. Finally the forecast looked good for a weekend visit to the highlands in some fresh snow. We were not disappointed when we arrived at the falls at the foot of Buachaille Etive Mòr and I was finally able to capture the ‘Snowy Landscape’ photo, I had been visualising since we planned our trip to Scotland.

Pleased with our efforts we went to lunch with some friends, at the nearby King’s House Hotel. When we emerged however, the weather had taken a serious turn and snow was falling again, this time much more heavily, inspired by seeing some friendly deer in the carpark at the Hotel, we decided the drive down the road to Glen Etive, to try our luck at capturing a more wild scene. The weather however was starting to worry us and we were struggling to make out the road, much less any deer in the hills. However, just as we were looking for a place to turn around, we spotted this majestic stag and we jumped (quietly) out of the car to get our shot. As we moved closer, the rest of his herd scurried away, however this particular stag was not so easily intimidated and even stared directly into my lens as the snow started to dump down, before finally fleeing up the mountain. The resulting photo is one of my favourite images I have ever captured, particularly considering the conditions. Even though we were nearly cut off as the roads home were being closed as we drove through the blizzard, I couldn’t stop smiling!