Today started much the same as yesterday, a frighteningly early start, accompanied by torrential rain! I was out of the hotel at 4.27am and heading North West from Fort William to Eilean Donan Castle near Kyle of Lochalsh. En-route I had to be careful as the road was flooding from the torrential rain which also kept turning to sleet, just to liven up the drive! I was also having to be careful for deer, I must have seen 20 or 30 on the journey, mostly stood in the shadows, their eyes lighting in the headlights as I approached. A deer strike in a hatchback, miles from anywhere, in the middle of the night, out of mobile signal would be bad for both the deer and I so I kept a good eye out and speed down.
At Eilean Donan the lights on the castle were switched off which is a little bit of a disappointment, I will return at some point, hopefully when they're on again. I got a few shots of the castle in the early morning gloom but the sunrise was a lacklustre affair.
Moving on I headed down to Kyle of Lochalsh and over the Skye Bridge to the Isle of Skye. Having the bridge must make it so much easier for the inhabitants of the island rather than having to get a ferry to the mainland. I took the long single track road towards Elgol, stopping at one point to watch a Buzzard squabbling with a murder of crows over the remains of a rabbit, I was within 10 yards or so but unfortunately it flew off when I tried to get a camera out.
Skye appears to have rain the likes of which I have only seen in one other area of the UK, Loch Sunart. Without warning rain will come, within seconds of the first spots hitting the clouds open and a full on downpour soaks everything, but only for a few minutes, before it clears up. A couple of times I got a soaking, I was grateful for both the weathersealing on my camera and my Gitzo goretex coat.
Approaching Torrin it was the aftermath of one of these downpours which cleared the air, as the sun came through the clouds it cast the most amazing light on Blà Bheinn, one of the 12 munros (peaks over 3000 feet) on the island;
From there I moved on to Elgol, capturing some seascapes with the mountains in the background. I then retraced my route back across towards Kyle of Lochalsh, I had wanted to take the ferry back to Mallaig but the timings didn't fit in so it was a blustery drive across the Skye Bridge with the High Wind warnings flashing. I could have spent a week purely on Skye but am short on time this trip, now that I have recce'd it I am sure another trip is in order at some point.
Back on the mainland I took the A87 back past Loch Cluanie whose level looked really low, it is a reservoir with a dam, it looked strange with lots of extra shoreline exposed. Back to Fort William I headed South to Castle Stalker in time for a sunset. I made the mistake of parking at the cafe which overlooks the castle, assuming there would be a path down. There isn't, so I had to stumble through a steep boggy hillside down to the beach. When I got to the bottom I spoke to another photographer (Billy Currie) who had found a parking spot right next to the beach. Oops. Still, once I'd got the shots I wanted the walk back up the boggy hill was worth it.
Finally I headed back North, up to my hotel in Fort William for a warm shower and a bite to eat, it has been another busy day, 300 miles and 12 hours. A quick bit of photo processing, write this blog and an early night before yet another early start in the morning, this time heading to my old favourite, Glencoe, before heading back down to York.