Inverpolly magic

Amongst an incredibly busy few months we managed to fit in a week-long trip to the magical landscape of Inverpolly in the North West Highlands. We hadn’t reckoned when we booked we would be moving house just two weeks prior. The chance to get a break from lifting and shifting stuff around was a welcome one. Despite only getting about one day out of seven without torrential rain and overcast grey sky we still managed to capture some fantastic images.

A lone rowan tree twists in the foreground pointing up to a mouton in the distance

Stac Pollaidh rises up from carpet of autumn gold and purple. ©Mhairi Carroll

Our main goal in travelling to the North West Highlands was to get a great shot of Stac Pollaidh and I think in this one we did.

The hills of Assynt may not be the tallest but they create this fascinating fantasy wilderness in the way they rise up proud from the surroundings. The road through the Inverpolly Nature Reserve, about 15 miles north of Ullapool, takes you around the mountains. To see them all in a grand sweep you need to head towards Enard Bay. The horizon is punctured by a series of strange and highly identifiable shapes.

A narrow road snakes towards a mountain range in the distance

The hills of Assynt looking across the range from the road to Enard Bay. ©Mhairi Carroll

For most of the week Suilven, the dome-shaped mountain that rises up above the town of Lochinver, was hidden from us by low cloud. Some days the torrential rain even obscured it from us when we were, according to the map, right beside it. However, at least on one day it revealed itself to us from its flank.

A dark grey mountain cover the top third of the picture with a loch and some trees in front.

One of the most recognisable hills in Scotland is the dome shaped hill above Lochinver – Suilven. ©Paul Carroll

We will be returning here as part of our plan to create a gallery of all the great landscapes in the Scottish Highlands and Islands.

Despite the weather , we found some great locations and a great wee pub in Polbain on the Coigath  coastal road. Lochinver also has some great pubs ( with famous pies) and on the road out a bookshop appears in the middle of a forrest. So even if it rains there is somewhere to go.

Next time we will be hoping we can get out a bit more but even so I think we made a great start to photographing this amazing part of Scotland.

We have just got round to publishing our images from the trip and you can see the first set in our North West Highlands Gallery.



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Stuart Low is a great photography teacher

I came across Stuart Low’s website when his recent blog post caught my eye via Facebook. It is about the loss of a favourite tree to photograph. His picture of it below highlights its beauty but read his blog to see its ruin. Did he give away its location by positing his image on flickr and as result unethical camping vandals got to it?

Picture of a tree without leaves in front of a loch with moutons in the distance.

This is the breathtaking and unspoilt location on the banks of Loch Doine Stuart Low had taken many times but sadly someone has chopped it down. © Stuart Low

Whatever happened it reminded me of when Mhairi and I returned to our favourite tree in Glencoe ( and a favourite of many other photographer’s too)  only to discover it had fallen.

TRee on the right of the image at the end of a dry stone wall and then looking beyond into rolling farmland fields lit by the sun

Stuart Low’s stunning image of a tree at Path of Condie near Glenfarg in Perthshire for which he won a commendation in the prestigious Landscape Photographer of the Year 2012. © Stuart Low

Stuart shares a passion of mine for the lone tree in the landscape. He has a gallery dedicated to trees. This has inspired me to do the same as its a theme I love. He won a commendation in Landscape Photographer of the Year in 2012 for his photograph of a tree near Glenfarg. I know the area well and can kick myself for not getting this one. I believe its the mark of a good landscape photographer that they can find the beauty in a familiar landscape by awareness of composition and spotting when the light is just right.

His main line of photography business is teaching through running workshops and courses in fantastic locations throughout Scotland. You can read all about them on his website. I have not been on one of his courses but he freely gives tips and good instruction on his blog and flickr site which is well worth a read.

There is an excellent discussion on his flickr photo stream where he proves the cost of shooting film is both cheaper and better than (his) several thousand pounds worth of digital equipment. A point often made is that the greats of photography over the last fifty years or so used equipment you can pick up on eBAy for a few quid.

Stuart is obviously a great and passionate teacher so joins my list of Scottish Photographers on this blog. (see the topic drop down box and pick photographers to see the full list so far).

I aim to grow this review of Scotland’s landscape photographers pull it together into one post sometime soon so please let me know of any you would like to feature , including yourself.


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Is Corrie the prettiest village

We were on the Island of Arran at the weekend and it poured from the moment we got off the ferry until we got back on the next day. Arran is in the Clyde estuary and is described as Scotland in miniature with mountainous glens in the north, small satellite islands off its own coast ( the Holy Isle)  and beautiful villages.  The stand out place on this trip was the village of Corrie.

Row of houses all painted white with flower fled front gardens and a white wall along side a wet road running through.

Corrie on the island of Arran must be one of the prettiest villages in Scotland. ©Paul Carroll

Is Corrie the prettiest village in Scotland ? There are plenty of competitions for this title and I’d be astonished if it isn’t in the running for the Keep Scotland Beautiful wee village trophy.  Every single house is tastefully painted and every blade of grass in the walled gardens the go along the seawall is perfectly cared for.

Small garden with floral borders and agate at the far side leading on the a beach and a view out to sea.

Between the street and the shore on Corrie there is a walled garden and each house seems to make the most of it with stunning floral displays and a gate to the beach. Lucky them. © Paul Carroll

Even on a wet day it was a joy to pass through. There is a small harbour at one end that includes a long-boat in a viking style. At the other end of the street are mature trees providing a canopy to the colourful cottages.

If anyone asks us for a list of the prettiest villages Corrie will spring to mind. Where would you put on a list of Scotland’s picturesque villages?

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Glasgow Welcomes the World


So proud of Glasgow -the place of our birth. Here’s a great blog from a great blogger at the commonwealth games.

Originally posted on Wild about Scotland:

Commonwealth Games logo in George Square, Glasgow, Scotland, UK

Come in, come in, it’s nice tae see ye
How’s yersel ye’re looking grand
Tak yer ease we’ll try to pleese ye
Man ye’re welcome
Here’s my hand.

So with these words Glasgow welcomed the one billion plus viewers across the world to the Opening Ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow on 23rd July, kicking off eleven days of world class sports.

Having already had a sneak preview of the dress rehearsal for the Opening Ceremony on Monday evening at Celtic Park I thought it was a spectacular start to the Commonwealth Games.  From the huge cheers received by the athletes to the performances by Susan Boyle, Nicola Benedetti and others, and the thousands of volunteers who made up the cast, it was a warm and distinctive welcome to Glasgow and Scotland.  The colour, energy, humour and spirit of Glasgow and Scotland certainly shone through.

I dare say some of the…

View original 554 more words

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Isle of Lewis gallery update

Its been a month since we got back from the Hebrides and I am only now getting around to updating our galleries. Check out the new additions to our Isle of Lewis gallery.

I am afraid I suffer from a football related syndrome and it induces a trance like state during the month-long World Cup in June.

This year for our annual trip to the Hebrides we stayed on the Isle of Lewis in a family friend’s house in Gravir in the Lochs area. This meant we travelled more than before around Lewis and fell in love with the western road along the atlantic coast of the island.

looking out to see there is an island rock formation in middle of the scene with a jaggy edge

This is the view from the beach at Bosta on Great Bernera, an island of the isle of Lewis (but connected by a bridge). © Paul Carroll 2014 There is more of this on

The road from the expanse of Uig Bay in the south of Lewis travels past several stunning bays such as Valtos, Reef,  Great Bernera (Bosta beach) and then up past the famous Callanish Stones and another fabulous beach at Dalbeg. We also spent some time at the Morvern Gallery in Barvas, which included some fantastic originals by Pam Carter.  The road culminates at the Butt of Lewis where there are rugged cliffs and stacks.  The wonderful Port of Ness harbour is a good place to rest a while and call in at the Harbour Gallery of Anthony Barbour.

There were far more motor homes and camper vans on the island roads this year. The Western Isle is ideal territory for the travelling camper. The ferry pricing has changed making it far cheaper for vans under 5 meters. We fancy doing it that way ourselves next year. There are plenty of quiet coastal areas to park up and watch the Atlantic sunsets from the beach.

Here are a selection of some new shots from the Lewis Gallery.

A stack rock pillar beside a cliff  - looking down on to it.

A stack at the butt of lewis. ©Paul Carroll 2014

Looking over the red roof of an abandoned cottage towards moor land contaiing lots of small lochs and hills in the distance

A popular view on from the village of Achmore across the moor towards the hills at Uig and North Harris. This particular red roof is appearing in several photographers galleries. This shot has particular good late evening light. ©Paul Carroll 2014









This is a view out to sea from Gravir where we were sating in 2014

This is a view out to sea from Gravir over the fish farms at Loch Odhairn ©Mhairi Carroll 2014


Looking across a large beach. Grass in the foreground

This is another huge beach on the Western coast of the Isle of Lewis called Reef. There is a large Caravan park here if you are interested in where to stay. We ( spent a couple of weeks travelling the western coast of the Western Isles.


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Colin Prior’s Karakoram project

Hopefully you got to see the fantastic one hour Adventure Show special on Colin Prior’s photographic trip to the Karakoram mountain range. Perhaps it was only available in Scotland – BBC 2.  Follow the link above to the adventure show website where there are more clips and images or watch the embedded Vimeo clip below.

Colin is Scotland’s best known and top landscape photographer. He describes this project as his Magnus Opus. It required a six-week trek to the heart of the Karakoram range and he was accompanied by a three-man TV crew. Here is a video summary on Vimeo by the production company – triple echo productions.

<p><a href=”″>Colin Prior Karakoram</a> from <a href=”″>Triple Echo Productions</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

The documentary features some of the incredible scenery of this range which boast K2, the world’s second highest mountain, plus three other mountains over 8,000m and 30 over 7,500 all around Baltoro glacier. It also includes Colin discussing how he approached the photographic challenges. The programme shows great examples of a photographer getting set up then waiting for nature to provide the right light. He describes what the right light is for the image he wants. This is nail-biting stuff if you have trekked six weeks to get there.

This has been a dream of Colin’s and he is supremely qualified to achieve it. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to such an inhospitable place. However, he mentions the Scottish mountains and the Skye Cuillin in the same breath as Karakoram. These are at least more accessible to you and I.

This is the first product I have seen from this project and I can’t wait for more.

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John Ellis – Another fantastic Scottish Landscape photographer

If you love dramatic Scottish highland scenery you will love the images on the John Ellis Photography website.

Its been a while since a new Scottish landscape photographer has caught our eye. However, Mhairi has been sharing pictures on a Facebook group for people connected to the Isle of Harris and spotted a few scenes posted from John. He refers to his grandparents being from Luskentyre and vividly remembers spending summer holidays there as a child.

rock on the beach is in the foreground with the sea green sea behind and distant hills

Horgabost on the Isle of Harris. ©John Ellis.

This first picture is of one of our favourite places and John has captured a wonderful composition.

He lives in Strathpeffer in Rossshire, which is just north of Inverness. This puts him in easy reach of many of Scotland’s most stunning scenes. Ease of reach isn’t the only criteria as the pictures on the website cover the inner and outer Hebrides and some shots of Glasgow.

His website includes galleries on landscapes, seascapes , flora, fauna and other work. Each image can be purchased as a mounted print.

He says his passion is landscape photography and he is constantly on the lookout to capture new and different shots. Looking at the images on his website he has mastered long exposures to get the drama from the brooding Scottish weather as dark clouds pass over water falling or lapping on the shore.

Here are a further couple of images John shared with us recently.

A stream of water runs through a grass covered salt marsh to a hill in the distance.

The salt marsh at Northton on Harris. ©John Ellis

orange from the sunset is reflected on the sand and over the sea to the call island of Taransay in the distance

Taransay sunset, Isle of Harris. ©John Ellis

So if you have not yet visited his website go and take a look at some of the great pictures on


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This year’s trip to the outer Hebrides

We have finalised arrangements for this year’s trip to the outer Hebrides. We are staying this time (the first two weeks of June) in the lochs area of the Isle of Lewis. This is new territory for us and it seems for most other people as well as there are very few images of the lochs area of the Western Isles on the internet. That won’t be the case after we’ve been there.

view down loch Seaforth which has hills on either side of deep blue water

Loch Seaforth is a deep and long sea loch that has the Isle of Lewis on one side and the Isle of Harris on the other. © Paul Carroll

The famous Loch Seaforth bounds the area to the south. This is one of the many places in Scotland Bonnie Prince Charlie landed on his flight from government troops and supporters. However, he found it hard going to get from there to Stornoway further north as it involved crossing many other lochs and lochans in between. Sounds like the kind of place we love to visit and photograph.

The South Lochs area is also the Pairc Estate, which is about to become another example of the land reform gradually sweeping through Scotland. After a ten-year campaign the Pairc Community Trust is about to take over ownership of the land from a private landlord under the community (crofting area) right to buy scheme introduced by the Scottish Parliament in 2003.

Cover of book Harris: Photographic VIew Volume One

Cover from our eBook on the Isle of Harris

We will of course be able to spend another couple of weeks visiting the adjoining Isle of Harris. It now has global recognition from both the National Geographic magazine and Rough Guide as one of the top ten destinations in the world. If you spend any time looking through our Isle of Harris gallery you will see why. Watch out for more coming soon on the wonderful Harris atlantic coastline, the hills of North Harris and the rugged Bays area.

On the last trip we explored some of the west coast of Lewis. The fabulous beach at Uig and the 5,000 year old Callanish stones. We intend to visit more of Lewis including a trip up to Ness. Our picture of the Callanish stones graces the artwork on the fan site of the series outlander ,the new drama being filmed in Scotland just now.

standing stones across the top of a hill in black and white and heavt cloud in the background

The oldest and largest standing stones site in Europe is over 5,000 years old; into neolithic times. Here it is on the Isle of Lewis. ©Mhairi Carroll

We are looking out for great ideas for views to photograph on Lewis, especially the lochs area or the atlantic coastline. Either reply here or head to our contact page to email a request.






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Another favourite drive – Glenshee in winter

Here is another addition to the quest to list the best driving roads in Scotland. What makes it even more special is this road can deliver a fix of snow-covered landscape when there has been little to go around in the lowlands.

Road looking down through snow covered mountains.

The A93 through Glenshee takes you close to the top of a Munro (the Cairnwell) and through the Glenshee Ski centre making it a candidate for one of top drives in Scotland. ©Mhairi Carroll

Realising that we were approaching the end of winter and had not had a snowfall we were desperate to get to somewhere that had. The A93 is a quick way to get into the high snow-covered mountains. At just over an hour from Perth the road from Blairgowrie to Braemar passes high through Glenshee and the ski centre there. It comes within a few hundred feet of the top of a Munro (mountains over 3,000 ft), the Cairnwell in the Cairngorm National Park. This and the Cairngorm mountain itself are probably the only easily accessible mountains from the road in the National Park.

The picture above is the of the road heading back down the hill towards the small village of Spittal of Glenshee. In front is the summit ridge of Creag Leacach – another Munro listed mountain.

Snow hares are easily spotted abounding these hillsides. It therefore would pay to be ready with a longer focal length lens.

White snow and a white snow hare is just able to be seen

Look closely to see this snow hare creeping past in Glenshee. ©Paul Carroll

Here is one quickly trying to creep past as we prepared to take the shot above. Alas a wide-angle lens didn’t get a close enough shot.

Further along we watched a herd of stags. This is fantastic access to wildlife from the road.

Actually, a thing to bear in mind is that to keep the road clear the snow plough will push piles of snow along the side. Bear this in mind as it means your first steps off the road are likely to be into deep snow. This is a lesson I forgot and a short step quickly filled my boots with snow. Thankfully, I had spare socks.

Another lesson to remember is that snow will fool your camera to thinking it is brighter than it is and render all that white as grey. It is normally a good idea to add  +1 exposure compensation to take a reading.

Previous posts on the best roads in Scotland may or may not feature the A93 at all nor place it high up the list but if you want to make a distinction based on the season then for a road for a snow-covered alpine like experience in Scotland the A93 through Glenshee must be a contender.

Here are the previous posts on the best driving roads.

Scenic drive suggestions for touring around Scotland

The best roads in Scotland part 2

What is the best road in Scotland

More suggestions are welcome and we will keep adding to the list. Maybe an option is to start to think about different roads for different seasons.

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Upgrading our website is an oily rag of a job

Upgrading software might be replacing the annual car service for the masses. I no longer know or want to know what goes on under the bonnet of a car so I rely on professional mechanics to sort out the annual service and MOT. Now instead for some reason I am learning what goes on under the bonnet of our website to carry out annual maintenance tasks and upgrades. It is a sign of the times that a lot of us have replaced weekends with oily rag and spanner with Search Engine Optimisation audit and upgrade to responsive design websites for our work or leisure pursuits. Ah the information age.

We use PhotoShelter as our website service and on the whole its pretty easy to work with. However, it had not kept pace with the design requirements of the tablet and smart phone viewing experience. No fear  – the developers at PhotoShelter have introduced a new “Beam”  website and provide one click from their classic interface (actually still the current for most) to the new Beam interface ( still in Beta test version).

As, according to our google analytics feedback, approaching half of the photography and art audience now view our website on a tablet we ought to change. It is not as one click as the company say but as it is important to keep up with the times I decide to go ahead with the upgrade. It is still a beta test service from Photoshelter so some of it is still not as good as I would like but you do get to swipe through the images on a tablet.

Anyway, my apologies if some of the links to embedded images need fixing and some of the text looks to point you in the wrong direction (e.g. see menu on left, which is now above etc). It will take me a while to go through it all. Perhaps changing the oil was more fun that this.

If you have a look at the site , especially Mhairi’s new Woof in the Wool collection and want to offer some advice it will be gratefully received. Mhairi’s new artistic venture will be a major feature of what we are doing this year. I aim to have the website all spruced up by the end of the month for the new exciting year ahead.

five dogs made from needle felted wool sit in  a row.

The Woof in the Wool – needle felted animals pictured in scenic settings. Here five breeds of dogs in a row show just some of the animals Mhairi is creating. ©Mhairi Carroll 2014

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