Monthly Archives: March 2011

Day 17 – October 26, 2010

Day 4 of the workshop with Bruce Percy.

Morning Session –

Evening Session –

Day 16 – October 25, 2010

Day 3 of the workshop with Bruce Percy.

Morning Session –

Somewhere in Assynt

Evening session –

Achiltibuie beach

Day 15 – October 24, 2010

Day 2 of the workshop with Bruce Percy.

Morning Session –

Loch Cul Dromannan

Evening session –

Achiltibuie beach

Day 14 – October 23, 2010

Day 1 of the workshop with Bruce Percy.

Shot 1 – Morning session.

Loch Lurgainn


Shot 2 – Evening session

Loch Bad A Ghaill

Day 13 – October 22, 2010

Travelled to Inverness today for the workshop with Bruce Percy. All day travel. Arrived in Ullapool by late evening and had an introductory session about the scope of the workshop and how it would run. Fun starts tomorrow. 🙂

Inverness Castle

Day 12 – October 21, 2010

Drove back to Glasgow from Glen Nevis today. Had to return the rental at Glasgow airport and then go into the city to my hostel for the night. What I didn’t expect was company in the car on the way back.

The last evening at the hostel there was an elderly gentleman who was staying in the room for the night, and he happened to be quite chatty. We spoke for a while at the breakfast table the next morning too, and he told me he was headed to Loch Lomond the same day along with his daughter. Since I was going to Glasgow anyway I offered to take the two of them along with me to Loch Lomond, which I would pass on the way to Glasgow. They had been planning to travel that day by bus, but accepted my invitation. So my return journey ended up being done on the old route I had taken while driving up a few days earlier, in half the time I had reckoned it would take. I kept talking to this old fella’ all the way through, and it was interesting to hear him talk of all the things he had done in his days gone by (he is 72 years old), especially his Indian experiences. The only slightly disappointing bit was the fact that the daughter was asleep the whole time (darn!) Oh well, this was how change was coming in on the last day of my first leg of the Scotland trip.

So, eventually, I dropped off those two at Loch Lomond and made my way to Glasgow where I returned the rental car and made my way to the city in a bus, feeling relieved at not having to navigate the streets of the city on my own. Glasgow seems to evoke very mixed feelings in me. On the one hand you have these typical (in some way) church buildings, promenades, and squares that seem to pretty much be a part of most major cities around the world, and thereby seemingly comfortable, only because they appear somewhat familiar. At the same time, take off into some off the streets of the city, going uphill (or downhill depending on which way you’re travelling), or wander into a narrow lane and you feel like you might have entered into an early 20th century area, except for the way people are dressed up and their vehicles. Then, when you get into the subway, which screeches and screams while tearing through narrow tunnels under the ground, all the while throwing you around as if suffering from a sudden bout of hiccups, you could be forgiven for feeling like you’re in erstwhile communist USSR (for some strange reason that’s how I felt although I can’t fathom why). So it’s a queer mix of the common, the strange, and the old. I didn’t dwell on this for long though, because sometimes carrying heavy backpacks can do wonders for your sense of purpose. If you don’t know what I’m talking about then I suggest you go load up your nearest backpacks with a bunch of heavy boulders if you can. There, see? Good. Now then, back to Glasgow.

Walking through Glasgow

Having coffee at Costa

The hostel I’m sleeping in tonight isn’t an SYHA hostel, but a privately run place by the name Westend Backpackers. It’s an old place that’s frayed at the edges but is mostly all right. You get free WiFi and breakfast included in the price, which is better than the SYHA hostels, although you do get more variety in the breakfast at the latter. Then again I’m trying to travel on a budget, so minor stuff like this doesn’t count for much, although I really think the tap in Room 5 needs to be made non-squeaky when it is turned on, so that the occupants of the room don’t get disturbed when other inhabitants (such as me) use the facilities early in the morning. Also, it would be reassuring to have a latch on the bathroom door, yeah. And a bit more space in the shower section would be nice, because I think whoever designed it might have been just a wee bit larger than a 5-year old! Otherwise it was good. The sheets were clean, and the beds were bug-free. So it was a budget accommodation that sticks quite literally to the ethos of being budget. Functional, but a bit dodgy. Emphasis on dodgy. Yeah.

So I’m off to Inverness tomorrow to start of with the five-day workshop I’m attending. The guy conducting it, Bruce Percy, has this really bold and colourful palette in his landscape images that I like. What’s more interesting is how he uses colour to create mood, which I’ve usually associated with tonality, so it should be interesting to see him working through his approach to images. Should be a good five days.

Day 11 – October 20, 2010

The Jacobite Express crosses the Glenfinnan Viaduct at Glenfinnan

Not much to report today. All I did was go to the Glenfinnan visitors centre, spend a bit (or a lot, depending on what your limit is!) of money buying souvenirs for family, and then waiting at the top of the hill behind the centre for the Jacobite Express to pass over the viaduct. To put it into layman’s terms, I was waiting for the Hogwarts Express to run across the long bridge with multiple arches, as made famous by the Harry Potter movies. Yes, the train, and the bridge are real. The engine was simply repainted for the movies, and everything else is the same as it is in real life, including the coaches. The 21-arch viaduct itself looks wonderful, set between two mountains and arching it’s way across the chasm.

Couldn’t go to Castle Stalker. I’m thinking I could take that route tomorrow, instead of the one via Glencoe. It’s about 25 miles longer, but shouldn’t be much of a difference in terms of time. I have the whole day to get to Glasgow, so 25 miles shouldn’t take a lot of extra time, I think. My last time in Glasgow was nothing short of a nightmare, except the last hour, and I have no intention of making history repeat itself. Even though I have the whole day to get there, I’d rather be done with it by 6, so that my evening is relaxed. My train for Inverness leaves around 10 or 10.30 on the morning of the 22nd, and I’d like to get up early and get to the station well in time with my heavy luggage. That is one train I can’t afford to be late for.

Day 10 – October 19, 2010

Scottish Cow

Started back from Torridon today. I think I’m staying at Glen Nevis, and will try to see if I can visit the Glenfinnan viaduct tomorrow. It’s close to Fort William and should easily be doable. Not sure if I’ll mange to squeeze in Castle Stalker too, but we’ll see. Castle Stalker is on the way back to Glasgow, but it is accessed via a route which is different from the one I am planning to take so I’m hoping to visit it tomorrow, otherwise I might have to skip it.

Eilean Donan Castle

Stopped again at Eilean Donan castle to manage and squeeze out a fiew photos with the sun shining on it. I had stopped here on my way to Torridon a couple of days ago, but at that time the clouds were out in full-force and I had to be content with very a very moody-looking caslte. The sun obliged today, albeit after standing in the cold, waiting for it to make an appearance for a good half hour. It was worth it though, because the castle looks like a million bucks in the sunlight, and I was glad I decided to wait for it to happen.

The ruins of Inverlochy Castle

The drive back from Torridon also had me stopping at a number of places, contrary to what I had thought. It had been very cold last night with the result that all peaks in Scotland had seen snowfall on them. This created a situation where every scene I had witnessed while driving to Torridon had acquired a different atmosphere. I didn’t repeat all of those images, but definitely a few, because with the snow showing these places had undergone a significant change of character.

A stream of molten water from the slopes of Ben Nevis flows by

The hostel at Glen Nevis seems to be the most unfriendly feeling of all the SYHA hostels I’ve stayed in so far. I can’t quite put my finger on the reason, but it just feels less welcoming than the others, and more so in stark contrast to the one at Torridon, where the guy at the reception was the most friendly I’ve met in any of the hostels. Anyway, I just need to sleep here, so I’m not going to let this feeling run amok. We’ll see how tomorrow goes.

Day 9 – October 18, 2010

Shipwreck at Diabaig

Torridon is such a world of difference as compared to the tourist-infested area in Glencoe. It almost seems as if the entire world has come into Glencoe for hiking, walking, and general merry-making. It’s not that it isn’t a great place to be in, but Toriddon is no less. In fact, according to me, the rugged beauty of Torridon is a level above that of Glencoe, if not more. The manner in which the land meets the waters and the sky at Torridon are to be seen to be believed. It looks serene and dangerous at the same time; intensely beautiful and awe-inspiring.

I spent the first half of the day driving up to the end of the road onwards from Torridon, up to a village called Diabaig. It’s located at the shores of Loch Torridon, and is accessible only if you are willing to traverse a tortuous section of single-track road across the mountains in the area. The views throughout leave nothing to be desired, and when the sun comes out they gain an entirely new kind of look, so different from when it is overcast and cloudy that it’s hard to believe you’re looking at the same piece of earth. The weather being what it is in Scotland, especially in the Highlands, it kept raining and clearing every hour or so and I was fortunate enough to have witnessed the full splendour of Torridon in just half a day. Diabaig itself isn’t much, but with it’s setting along the shores of the Loch it acquires an off-track charm that is entirely its own.  Hopefully some of the images I shot over there will do it, and Torridon, justice.

Loch Torridon

Overall, I am extremely happy with my stay at here today. The second half of the day was much less eventful weather-wise and shooting-wise, but it was also good to ease-off towards the latter half, which helped the grandeur of what I had witnessed in the morning to sink in.

Day 8 – October 17, 2010

Barren twigs - Glencoe

I woke up at 5am today, feeling gloomy and under weather. The fact that it wasn’t even daytime yet didn’t seem to make much difference. I’m not sure what caused the sudden presence of this state of mind. Yesterday was a good day, if not great. The sun had been out all the time, and apart from having to come back to the hostel soon because of memory cards that were full everything else had been fine. I had been a little unsure of going to Torridon, just as I was unsure of coming to Glencoe, but the fear and dread were stronger this time, and I couldn’t find any reason for their resurgence.

I ended up sitting in the car for a good ten minutes after checking out of SYHA Glencoe, wondering why I was feeling this way. The weather today was packed in. Clouds had rolled in between the hills where yesterday sunshine streamed through, and the wind, though not as chilly, had an edge to it that was different from yesterday. But I had to go, for my booking at the Torridon hostel had already been done and paid for, for the next two nights.

I had decided not to stop along the way as much as I normally do, to shoot, because the distance to be covered was a fair bit more than I would do any other day, and I didn’t want to drive at night. The Highlnds of Scotland are known for their narrow single-track roads that allow only one vehicle to pass at a time, and I didn’t want to be driving on them after the sun went down. Despite that I did end up stopping a fair bit. Doing so is unavoidable when the main purpose of a journey is to take photographs, especially at places that are symbolic of a land. I had started feeling more relaxed by the time I stopped for lunch at Cualin Inn. The inn is small, but is a very warm place, with two very beautiful hostesses. 🙂 There was an American family there with a baby boy who was staring at me all the time and making some of the best noises babies could be capable of making, I think. Helped me with my mood quite a bit. I didn’t get to speak to them, but whoever you were, thank you.

It kept raining intermittently all the way from Glencoe onwards, and only ceased when I crossed Shieldaig. Between the turn-off from the A87 onto the A890, and then on to the A896, there are numerous patches of single-track roads, and I was glad I reached this section of the journey during daytime. The scenery all throughout this section is breathtaking, but the road never really lets you enjoy it because you’re continuously concentrating ahead looking out for vehicles coming your way from the opposite side.

Loch Shieldaig

Torridon is situated right in a valley and besides the shores of Upper Loch Torridon. The views all around are magnificent, and any kind of terrain is no more than a few minutes away. I think I’m going to go on one of the short walks tomorrow, which were suggested by the helpful chap at the hostel reception. It’s a little funny how I have been given the keys to Room 9 here in the hostel at Torridon. There are more than 10 rooms in total, and each has a different name. Room 9 is called Loch Torridon. Not sure if it means anything, but there it is.

I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t really explore Glencoe, as I did Loch Lomond, and I don’t have much time here in Torridon either. Hopefully I’ll be able to do it more justice that Glencoe. My mood is better now that I’m here, and I really hope there are no more bouts of gloom to be suffered.

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