Highland Loch & Seascapes - Go wild on my new Workshop adventure!

30/05/2019
Blue Minch
I've been roaming the Scottish Highlands and Hebridean Isles with my cameras for over 30 years. For here the breathtaking, uncompromising Scottish landscape inspires and enthrals. A frisson of excitement still runs through me at the thought of venturing out into a dark, distant glen long before dawn. Or standing in the tideline of a incredibly beautiful, deserted beach as the daylight deminishes, and capturing what is illuminated in my lens. It is quite simply, awesome.

At the foot of ancient, brooding mountains and across wide, empty coastlines, a wonderful array of atmospheric light and colour evolves throughout the seasons. The weather can be soft and serene one moment and wickedly harsh the next. You can be tracing a high mountain track to reach hidden waterfalls in the morning, and driving up to a deserted beach in the afternoon. If you know where to go, the location choice is endless. So despite enjoying new travels and living in magnificent Cornwall, this is where I love to return to when I need to get away and really 'go wild'.

As many of my clients know, I have been trying to find a way of bringing a 'Highland adventure' into my workshop courses for a few years now. I've looked at many ways of how to capture the essence of my Cornish Seascapes, without falling into precisely what my One-to One courses are not about. And that would be by offering a group tour. For even the biggest beach or widest glen can be compromised when you get more than a couple of photographers roaming across it!

Also there are plenty of Scottish 'workshop' group tours already. There are also many courses run by local photographers who offer in-depth knowledge of their particular locale. So I would need to think better and bigger!

Firstly, I decided my course would still be One-to-One. I knew this would seriously impact the course price but I know the exclusivity and exceptional difference my course offers, will be recognised by those who want a truly unique Highland photography adventure.

So then I looked at 'how and where'...

'How' is usually travel in Land Rovers and sleep in the back, wild camp in my tent, or stay in a bothey. Yet bearing in mind the weather and midges, this is not a viable option for my clients!

So thinking I could combine accommodation with transport, last Autumn I did a trip in a six berth Mobile-Home. My thinking was this would be an ideal mode of transport, for you simply pull off the road and you've arrived on location.

Fab?

Not really!..

I took along my great buddy Allen to see what it would be like travelling and living in such close proximity to someone. Now Allen has been a friend for decades. He has joined me on many of my adventures around the globe. Although he's not in to photography, he loves the wilds of the Highlands and he has spent months with me up there. Yet while we never fell out in the 'MoHo' trip... even on the evening I came back to the van to find all the water used up and the battery critically low because he'd had an indulgently long shower, then sat back with a book with the heating turned up to 'sauna' setting!.. the cramped conditions just didn't work.

Remember Al didn't have any photo gear. Yet my kit was all over the place. Add to this the sandy waders, damp jackets, wet waterproofs etc. etc., we both agreed it would be too much for the transport and accommodation basis of a workshop tour. Especially as it would compromise the workshop's attraction to my many female clients.

So with regard to 'how', on my workshop tour, I decided to scrutinise my optimum route and then find good accommodation at or close to some of the best locations.

As for 'where', I knew a few parameters. I needed to include Ardtornish Estate in the experience because I love the place. Over the years I have kindly been afforded privileged access to remote bothies that were in unbelievably spectacular locations across the stunning estate lands. Yet these basic 'lodges' took at least half a day to reach by boat or amphibious vehicle. They had no running water, beds, (ceilings in some instances), or loo facilities. So this would impact timings and I could not submit my clients to this safely.

However, I did know I would start the one-to-one tour here. For from here I can give my guest a superb introduction to some of the best and unfrequented highland scenery on the mainland. There are rivers, streams, waterfalls, lochs, beaches, mountains, eagles, otters... in short, it makes for the perfect start. Then from Ardtornish the route would progress in a seamless adventure through the best scenery and spots I know.

With all this in mind. A couple of weeks ago I took my Father on a trip I had spent months planning.

As a bit of background, my Dad was in the Royal Navy and stationed in and around Faslane on the Firth of Clyde during WW2. Later on, he and my Mother holidayed in the Highlands a lot throughout their married life. Indeed they introduced me to Scotland on a family holiday when I was 9.

So my thinking was based around showing someone, who thought they knew "the Highlands", some utterly new and completely different aspects.

Starting off outside Fort William, I charted a winding course that skipped around the tourist trail and avoided the 'usual' photo locations so often seen in the photo mags. For 9 days we travelled across Morvern, the Inner and Outer Hebrides, the North West Highlands and The Summer Isles. I linked my known locations, sought out accommodation, and in so doing, I found many more. So alongside meeting some lovely, hospitable places, I discovered some absolute photographic gems... And my Dad was simply beside himself! "I have never seen places like those" he said "let's go back next year!"

On the tour we experienced stunning early summer colours in glorious sunshine. At one point, high in the Achnashellach Forest the temperature hit 27 degrees! This was an unprecedented experience for both of us. While this was ideal as we were trying out the route. For my photography, the lack of water in the rivers, waterfalls and streams did restrict that aspect somewhat. But that is the unpredictability of the Scottish Highlands and Islands. And the lack of water was more than made up for in some other areas, such as impossibly blue seas and skies. You can view my images from the trip in the 'Summer Highlands' gallery of my photography website. Just head back to the home page and click the link that is there.

So there we go! If you have read this far, then I guess you might be fascinated by the prospect of such unique experience and interested in coming along.

So let me tell you my thoughts.

Firstly, my Highland Loch & Seascapes Workshop will work best if you have already been on one of my Cornish Seascape Workshops. You know me and I know you a bit. You know how I do things and what the basic premise surrounding my photo courses is. My first courses running in Autumn '19 are already booked. So my 2020 spots are open to any previous client.

That's not to say that any experienced photographers who are 'manual' settings capable and happy to chip-in on having a throughly enjoyable, yet demanding photographic experience, would not be welcome! Get in touch and let's have a chat.

I am offering Highland Loch & Seascapes trips in early Spring and late Autumn 2020. As I say, this exclusive course is a 'once in a lifetime' experience. It will be hugely rewarding but by it's very nature and the fact I am doing this on a commercial basis, as well as for the absolute love of Scotland, it does mean that the price is not cheap.

So if you want to know more, get in touch through the Contact Me section of this website or email me directly at chris@c-simmonsphoto.co.uk and let's make some plans.