'One Planet, One Life' project is up and running at a good speed, so let's take a look at the second location, the wonderful and moody Isle of Skye. This location has been on my bucket list for some time, which is why I chose it for the next OPOL Project location. I shared this hiking adventure with my father, to show that enjoying nature is not limited by age.
For those that have never been to this corner of the world, it looks a lot like Lord of the Rings territory. I used to think people colour toned their images from Skye to always have these dirty browns and rustic warm oranges, but now I realised that is just the natural colour and it is stunning. Travelling through Scotland basically feels like you are on a movie set.
*View from the pathway on Quiraing, Isle of Skye, Scotland. © Natasha Lloyd-Vest
I started my journey by flying in to Edinburgh, from Copenhagen, and taking a coach to Inverness, where I not only got to catch up with family, but also collected my Dad (or maybe he actually collected me) for our onward road trip to Skye. We left 8am on 16th March 2019 and headed out of Inverness taking the road that passes along Loch Ness. I was amazed how big the Loch is and it's quite amazing how an area has reaped the benefits of an old myth. Nessie statues and café's named after the beast, line the road at one end of the Loch, but for the most part it is a beautiful sight and you can find some lovely spots that are simply traditional Scotland to pull over for a break. The wonderful thing about Loch's are the surrounding mountains to almost every side of the water to add a little dwarfism to your day. The nature here is rugged and wild and you can really feel that as you drive the stretch of road through the glens and high mountainous valleys.
We made a couple of stops on the way to Skye, our first was Eilean Donan Castle (or as my husband calls it 'Highlander Castle'), a very elegant but strong castle that juts out into the Loch making quite the impression on passers by. They say it is the most photographed and pretty castle in all of Scotland, who 'they' are I don't know but for now I agree with them. Just take a look below and tell me if this is not a gorgeous castle!
*Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland. © Natasha Lloyd-Vest
Our next stop on the journey was a small coastal village called 'Plockton', fantastic name. This is the only place in Scotland that palm trees grow! Sneeze and you'll miss it, or drive into the water, either way you don't want to do either. It's a quaint place, not too much there but it was worth the little diversion to see it. Maybe in the summer time it has more of a vibe with the seal boat trips and sunshine to brighten the place up.
*Town of Plockton, Scotland. © Natasha Lloyd-Vest
What we are really here for though is pictures of the magnificent Isle of Skye and really to get on with the subject of my project. I'm travelling and promoting the idea of how wonderful the planet is so why not look after it, because, well.....it's a stunner and we all enjoy the outdoors at some point in our lives. I live for the outdoors, nothing makes me happier than trudging up a tough hiking route and marvelling at the view from the top. So, here is one of those views. This area is called Quiraing and it boasts an amazing view with an easy path to take along the side of the mountain, so even unhealthy people can manage this one. It's only the last stage that you can chose to try and climb to the top rocks, otherwise it is a good route for all the family, maybe not a toddler (just adding that disclaimer now!).
*Quiraing, Isle of Skye, Scotland. © Natasha Lloyd-Vest
Along this path we experienced about 4 seasons in rapid succession. We started in stormy looking conditions that gave bursts of bright sunlight as the clouds parted, we also experienced rain, snow and beautiful sunny blue skies. So if you are taking this hike, or any hike in Scotland for that matter, wear layers of clothing that you can remove when hot but offer good protection when the weather gods have had enough of you.
After Quiraing we drove the top of the peninsula to mainly check it out but we didn't stop for sights because there wasn't a huge amount and we wanted to get to the next location, the Fairy Glen. This is a cute, let's call them 'mini mountain', range with strange circular markings on the flat grassy spaces. See the blow image for more detail, my words never seem to really describe stuff enough. This area is definitely family friendly. It is hard to understand where to park or how to enter it, as basically you just park on the road (no signs) and walk into the area on the right where the ground looks lumpy. I had worn my father out with the Quiraing hike so he opted to stay in the car while I blissfully enjoyed the Scottish sunshine, sound of waterfalls and smell of sheep poop, I mean fresh grass!
*Fairy Glen, Isle of Skye, Scotland. © Natasha Lloyd-Vest
After the Fairy Glen we were more than ready for lunch, so we went back to our Airbnb (Sea Shimmer Cottage) and stuffed ourselves with my aunts vegan shepherds pie, noms. Chilled out for a bit and then headed off to Neist Point Lighthouse for a sunset shoot. This place is very out in the sticks, so be prepared for winding hilly roads with rough edges. The reward however is the below image. To say this was a memory that has burned itself into my brain and heart is an understatement. Not only did I get to share this view with my father, but WHAT A VIEW!
To anyone wanting to photograph this angle, you need to take the path that leads right from the car park and NOT follow the path to the lighthouse.
*Neist Point, Isle of Skye, Scotland. © Natasha Lloyd-Vest
After a great nights sleep, mainly from being shattered with the previous days driving and hiking, we were ready for a sunrise shoot of epic proportions. Dad and I jumped in the car, in the semi-dark, and off we drove. The views passing through Portree were gorgeous and deserved a quick stop for a photo opportunity.
*Portree, Isle of Skye, Scotland. © Natasha Lloyd-Vest
However, my sights were set on The Old Man of Stor. I knew I wanted to get up high for this one but to be honest, the incoming clouds were really screwing with my sunrise vision. The view driving towards it though was magnificent and actually gave me the best overall images. The hike up to the penis looking bit of rock that seems like it just might roll down the hill at any moment was by no means easy. In fact, if you are of an older age, unfit or generally lazy, just skip this hike completely and marvel at the view from the road. I left my dad on the path and continued the most direct route to the top, which turns out to be the steepest and toughest. There is an alternative route which takes you on a more gentle slope, but don't underestimate this hike, especially at 6am!
*Old Man of Stor, Isle of Skye, Scotland. © Natasha Lloyd-Vest
After the morning stamina test dad kindly treated me to a birthday breakfast fit for champions. I will not deny, I needed it! Our plan now consisted of driving back to Inverness with a stop at the Fairy Pools on the way. Now that our tummies were bulging and sploshing around with tea, we drove south from Portree towards the Fairy Pools. Along the way, two American damsels in distress were relieved of their hire car puncture nightmares when my dad pulled over grabbed his tools and changed their tyre to the spare. Got to love a little happy story thrown in there. Now back to the Fairy Pools.
It would appear I wore dad out with the 6am hike, which he bravely managed half of against my wishes and advise to go back to the car. So, he stayed in the car for a little shut eye, while I enjoyed the marvellous sights of the Fairy Pools. Do not get confused with the Fairy Glen, they are 2 different places entirely.
*Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye, Scotland. © Natasha Lloyd-Vest
Boom! Here I am managing to make myself look almost as big as the mountains with a little camera perspective trickery. And they say the camera never lies! Ha ha, what a joke. The reason the Fairy Pools has its name is because the gushing river at the base of the Cuillin Hills, which let's not be rude here these are mountains and not hills, has sections that become deeper pools and that water is turquoise coloured. The hike here is a lot more family friendly with some fun sections that require a little stone hopping as well as some perilous edges for kids to observe the waterfalls from. The mountains in the background really set the scene for an epic movie moment. Just driving to this location was pleasure for the eyes.
*Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye, Scotland. © Natasha Lloyd-Vest
Well, there we have it, the show must go on and the next candidate for the OPOL Project is an avid trail runner but I don't want to ruin the surprise so you will have to wait for the next installment. I hope you enjoyed my tour of the Isle of Skye and look forward to blogging further about this project.
For those that are interested in what I pack and wear for a journey like this, it is easy. I travelled with hand luggage only, which meant most of my space and weight went to my photography gear. With that knowledge in place lets talk clothing and how I packed it. The trick is, wear most of what you need and pack only the stuff that needs to be changed.
On my body as I travel:
1) Wooly hat, any hat will do, just make sure it's warm.
2) Good jacket, I'm wearing a Norrona lightweight jacket called Lofoten Powershield Pro Alpha. Which happens to be on sale right now! I call it my miracle jacket because it is incredibly thin but insanely warm and wind protective.
3) Patagonia fleece.
4) Wool base layer, both t-shirt and leggings.
5) Wool socks for hiking.
6) Meindl winter hiking boots.
6) Fjallraven G-1000 trousers.
In my camera rucksack:
1) ALL my camera gear, which is heavy but necessary.
2) Change of underwear for the amount of days away.
3) One change of wool base layer.
4) A couple of pairs of wool hiking socks.
5) Essentials like toothbrush, passport & toiletries (which I keep to a minimum, no make-up or large bottles, I'm a big fan of tester sachets.)
6) Metal water bottle. I avoid buying single use plastic and refill my bottle whenever I have the chance.
Remember, treat people and the planet with respect.