Scotland is a country so strikingly breathtaking, it will stop you in your tracks at every turn. You’ll find that driving along the countryside takes four times longer than it should because you are stopping at every lookout that provides a unique and beautiful photo opportunity. The landscapes are dramatic, jagged and imposing, yet peaceful and serene and very different depending on where you are in Scotland. When you visit, bring more memory cards than you may think, but be sure to pry yourself away from your lens every so often to really take in this remarkable countryside.
7. Old Man Storr, Isle of Skye
On the north end of the Isle of Skye sits Old Man Storr, a rocky hill on the Trotternish peninsula. One of the most famous walks in Scotland, it can get fairly busy during the summer months, and so is best visited early in the morning. If you can, get up early (before the sun rises) and climb to the top. The climb isn’t too strenuous, although if it is rainy it can be slippery and chances are you will be the only one on the hill at this time! The sunrise from the top of the hill is mystical, the sun rises and diffuses through the fog floating on the water, lighting the water and surrounding hillside. The Storr itself is unique and interesting; a jagged, pointy, rock formation that juts straight out of the hillside is often photographed. If you go early in the morning, you will most likely have plenty of sheep posing in your landscape images- quintessentially Scotland!
6. The Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye
The Fairy Pools are a magical, almost ethereal landmark on the south end of the Isle of Skye. Found at the foot of the Black Cuillins near Glenbrittle are these famous pools, crystal clear blue pools on along the length of the River Brittle. For those brave enough, the pools are great for a chilly swim on a warm summer day. For the rest of us, the pools provide visitors with amazing photo opportunities. The walk to the pools and back is simple- the distance to the first waterfall is just over two kilometers, with lots more as you walk further along the river. The pools seem to glisten with ‘fairies’- the water is a blue as you can imagine and actually seems to glow!
5. Ben Nevis
Ben Nevis, the king of Scotland, towers over all of Scotland, enticing climbers from around the world to climb the summit of its peak. As the tallest mountain in Scotland, it provides a great backdrop to the town of Fort William, the outdoor capital of the United Kingdom. Ben, as it is referred to by locals, is majestic and dramatic, shooting up from sea level on the shores of Loch Linnhe to its summit, 4406 feet above Fort William. Adding to this already picturesque landscape are the river and glen that run past the mountains. If you plan on tackling the mountain climb, be wary, as Ben can be unkind to even the most experienced climbers; the weather can take a turn for the worse in an instant. However, for those that are set on reaching the summit, there are now guided tours offered by a local Ben Nevis mountain guide. This tour is sure to provide some more idyllic photo opportunities of the landscape below!
4. Loch Lomond
Not as globally famous as its neighbor, Loch Ness, Loch Lomond is perhaps more beautiful. Since it receives far less visitors each year, one can feel much more connected to Scottish nature. The largest loch in Great Britain by surface area, it divides central and northern Scotland and is second in water volume to Loch Ness only. The Loch contains approximately 30 islands, providing some unique contrast and scenic landscape photo opportunities. And after you have taken thousands of pictures, Loch Lomond provides many activities, like world class golf courses, boating, kayaking, windsurfing, and hiking.
3. Eilean Donan Castle
Located in the western Highlands of Scotland, this picturesque castle frequently appears in photographs and film. Founded in the 13th century, it was destroyed in the early 1700’s by government ships, and the ruins were reconstructed later in the 20th century as the structure you see today. The castle is set on a small island connected to the mainland by a stone footbridge, and the look of the castle changes tremendously depending on tide levels. Have some fun photographing this landmark; since it is so often photographed, try to find a new and exciting angle! Although it is iconic for a reason- this beautiful castle is truly one of the most beautiful in Scotland!
2. Ring of Brodgar, Orkneys
Assumed to be erected sometime between 2500 BC and 2000 BC, this World Heritage Site is one of the great Neolithic monuments built on the Ness o’Brodgar and is a historical wonder. The stone ring was originally built in a circle containing (supposedly) 60 megaliths, today it contains only 27 stones. This ceremonial monument is unique and beautiful, situated in the middle of traditional Scottish landscape. This prehistoric landmark is best photographed early morning or near dusk, as there are less tourists and it seems to exude pure Scottish spiritualism. Also make sure to take some time to soak in the sight without your camera!
1. Glenfinnan Viaduct
Those that are familiar with the Harry Potter movie series will recognize and fan over this bridge – it is often shown in scenes with the Hogwarts Express! The bridge is an architectural icon, comprised of 21 stone arches on the West Highland Line, located at the top of Loch Shiel. The bridge itself provides some interesting photo opportunities, however if you time it just right, you can have photograph the Jacobite Steam Train crossing the bridge. This happens only twice a day, and is an iconic Scottish image!