The Western Isles of Scotland
A Visual Exploration of Skye, Mull and Iona
April 15 - 24, 2024
From St. Columba to the Lords of the Isles, Bonnie Prince Charlie, Samuel Johnson and beyond, the Highlands and Islands of Scotland fire the imagination like no other region of Britain. Whether one ventures north, south, east or west, the tapestry of culture, history, architecture and unparalleled scenery creates the perfect backdrop for a one-of-a-kind photo adventure.
In this inspirational and hands-on workshop, we’ll enjoy 8 days and 9 nights exploring the magical, mysterious and romantic Highlands and western isles, from its expansive and unspoiled wilderness areas to its ancient sites and bewitching castles.
Every day and evening will be filled with photographic opportunities, with Alan at your side providing photographic know-how, experience, and a light-hearted approach to honing your photographic voice. Alan’s wife, Julie, will be along to help make the experience both memorable and stress-free.
The group will gather on Monday afternoon, April 15th, at the Royal Hotel in the charming village of Comrie, near Stirling with its magnificent castle. We’ll enjoy getting to know each other over dinner. On Tuesday, we’ll explore this part of the Highlands with its superb lochs and mountains, stopping along the way to photograph the historic landscape and buildings.
On Wednesday, our destination is the port of Oban, where we’ll board a ferry for the short ride to the Isle of Mull. The Isle of Mull hotel will be our home base for three nights, while the group enjoys excursions to St. Columba’s sacred isle, Iona, with its spectacular monastery and Celtic crosses overlooking the graves of ancient kings and the Lords of the Isles. Other possible site visits include Lochbuie and Castle Moy, Castle Duart, and Carsaig Bay, home to the Carsaig Arches…a natural amphitheater of towering basalt cliffs.
We’ll then cross the sound of Mull, passing the castles of the Lords of the Isles along this strategic waterway. Back on the mainland, we’ll visit the impossibly romantic ruins of Castle Tioram, ancient stronghold of the Macdonalds of Clanranald. This is where the last Jacobite rebellion began. We’ll follow Bonnie Prince Charlie’s boat trip up remote Loch Shiel to Glenfinnan to view the monument to the Prince’s failed endeavor before catching the ferry to the Isle of Skye.
We’ll spend three nights on Skye at the amazing and historic Eileen Iarmain Hotel. Excursions include visits to Dunvegan Castle, still home of the chiefs of the MacLeods (Alan is a Macleod!), the tragic Trumpan church, Talisker and the Cuillin Hills, Flora Macdonald’s grave near the sinister ruins of Duntulm Castle and finally the dramatic, volcanic landscape of the Quiraing.
We’ll return to the mainland via remote Glenelg and the extraordinary Iron Age brochs nearby. Then it’s over the Rattan pass for a glimpse of the picturesque (if touristy) Eileen Donan Castle, north up the Great Glen and Loch Ness towards Inverness and the culmination of our journey.
Our final night together will be April 23rd at the exquisite Coul House Hotel. We’ll say our goodbyes over dinner and relive some of our experiences before the group heads for home on the 24th.
Our travel partner for this adventure is the exceptional Scottish Clans and Castles…a small travel firm specializing in custom tours based on an insiders knowledge to create one-of-a-kind and off-the-beaten-path experiences.
Due to the small and intimate nature of most lodging in the Highlands and Isles, our group is limited to 12. Pricing is based on 8 photographers and 4 non-photographing spouses/partners/friends. Additional spouses or partners are welcome on a space-available basis, but at full price.
Price is $6,200 for photographers and $4,850 for spouses or partners and includes the following:
- Nine nights lodging in charming country house hotels and inns. All rooms with private baths. Please note many of these hotels do not have elevators, so you may need to take a stairway or two to your room.
- 8 full days of photographic adventure, instruction and support
- All location and entrance fees
- All breakfasts and two dinners
- Ground transportation in comfortable 8-passenger mini vans
- Transportation from arrival airport to first hotel
- Local, knowledgeable and fun guides/drivers
- Airfares and related taxes or fees
- Meals not mentioned above
- Bottled water and all alcoholic beverages
- Gratuities for guides and hotel staff
- Personal expenses, services or purchases
- Travel/cancellation insurance (available from your travel agent)
A deposit of $1,250 per person is required to hold your spot. The balance is due no later than February 19, 2024 and may be made in multiple payments. If you need to cancel before February 19th, $625 will be refunded. Because of the advance planning required, if the cancellation is within 60 days or less of the start of the workshop, we will not be able to refund any of the workshop fee.
On the unlikely chance that we need to cancel the workshop for any reason, you will be refunded the full workshop fee.
Checks are always appreciated, but payment can also be made through the website via Shopify or PayPal.
Our arrival airport is Edinburgh. Our wonderful guides and drivers will pick you up at the airport, or at a city hotel, and transfer you to our first hotel in Comrie. Departure airport is Inverness. You will need to pre-book a taxi from the Coul House to the airport. Sharing of taxis is encouraged, and we can help facilitate that.
Bring layers of clothing and comfortable walking shoes. The weather in the Highlands is unpredictable, even in April. The chance of rain is always there, so waterproof gear for you and your camera is recommended.
Any camera is welcome….from large format to DSLR to mirrorless to iPhone. If you want help with post processing or other image review, a laptop is recommended, but not essential.
We select a mix of locations as photo opportunities, while keeping open ad hoc options as they arise. To make the most of Scotland’s dramatic scenery, some of these involve short 5 – 10 minute walks. We endeavor to make sure none of this is arduous, and guests always have the option of staying with the vans (and our drivers can sometimes make alternative excursions). Please let us know if you have mobility restrictions so that we can take them into account.
A month before our departure, you’ll receive additional information to help you prepare for your adventure. From camera gear advice to packing suggestions, you’ll get lots of guidance to ensure your trip is one of learning and imagemaking instead of problems and hassles.
See you in Scotland!