Knoydart and the Small Isles

18.05.2019 - 25.05.2019 Western Ireland | IE Colin Prior adventure, photography, travel, animals, wildlife, culture, excursion 1725 GBP

The Knoydart peninsula is one of the remotest parts of the Scottish mainland and is not connected to the road network. The best way to travel is by boat and the Mary Doune, which is privately chartered, will take us on a new adventure each day. The boat journeys themselves add great value to the experience and it is not uncommon to see, sea eagles, dolphins, whales and a wide variety of seabirds. We are based at Doune, which is located in a remote, bay and is the perfect base for the ultimate getaway. Our accommodation is a Scandinavian style wilderness lodge and all meals are served in the adjacent award-winning restaurant. Our day begins with breakfast at 0800 with an informal briefing of the proposed activities for the day. We will set off aboard the Mary Doune to our chosen destination – a journey that normally takes around an hour where we will photograph throughout the morning and break for freshly made packed lunches. The afternoon location usually involves another short boat trip to a second location and we will return to Doune at around 1730 where there may be opportunities to critique some of the day’s images or enjoy a drink overlooking the bay before settling down to the gastronomic delights of Doune’s restaurant. During the workshop, there will be tutorials and a group critique session.

TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

  • Spend a week developing your photography skills with Colin Prior
  • Enjoy access to some of the finest landscapes in Scotland aboard the Mary Doune
  • Capture the drama of the spectacular mountain scenery and encounter eagles, dolphins and whales
  • Enjoy fresh local cuisine in the award-winning restaurant at Doune on the Knoydart peninsula
  • Workshop restricted to nine clients

Trip Itinerary

Day 1 – Pickup from Mallaig – Doune

We meet in Mallaig which is easily reached by car or train via the spectacular West Highland Railway Line. Mallaig has plenty of long term parking which is free and where vehicles can be left for the duration of the workshop. A short 20-minute boat journey will take us to Doune on the tip of the Knoydart peninsula. After an informal introduction of the group and to the facilities at Doune, we meet for dinner.

Day 2 – Muck

After breakfast, we meet aboard the Mary Doune and head south-west to the island of Muck. Our anchorage is a secluded bay where coral sands are backed by rocky terraces on which a large colony of common seals resides. The bird life is often prolific with oystercatchers, ringed plover, dunlin and common gulls defending their territories from unwelcome visitors. We head up and onto a higher headland which has spectacular views overlooking Rum, Eigg and Skye, and if tidal conditions permit cross to Horse Island. Returning over Muck’s single road takes us to the tea shop where refreshments are available before our departure back to Doune.

Day 3 – Loch Hourn

As we enter the mouth of Loch Hourn, which is essentially a fjord, the view north is dominated by Beinn Sgritheall – one of the steepest mountains in Scotland. We continue up past Ladhar Bheinn and Barrisdale Bay to one of the most beautifully wooded parts of the glen. To the north, the lower slopes of Druim Fada are covered with sessile oak, birch and rowan, whilst on the southern slopes stands of ancient Scots pine cover the landscape.

Day 4 – Eigg – The Bay of Laig

Heading out in a south-westerly direction today, we travel down the east side of Eigg and arrive at the harbour an hour later. Here we transfer into a mini-bus and take a 20-minute drive to the Bay of Laig on the eastern side of the island. The Rum Cuillin rise vertically from sea level to almost 1000m and create a superb backdrop for photography in the bay. Two distinct areas provide endless photographic opportunities: the coral sand beach and the rocky shoreline where cannonball concretions are framed by the Rum Cuillin.

Day 5 – Skye – Loch Eishort – Boreraig

Rounding the Point of Sleat – the most southerly point on Skye we head over to Loch Eishort where the full Cuillin Ridge rises before us. Our destination today is to Boreraig, an isolated spot on the shores of Loch Eishort where the remains of a pre-crofting township stand. It was from here in 1853 that Lord MacDonald forcibly evicted 120 men, women and children. Ammonites can be found in the limestones rocks.

Day 6 – Rum

Rum’s rugged coastline is a landscape of contrasts. From towering sandstone cliffs to secluded sandy beaches, its underlying geology has created some fantastic photographic locations. At Guirdil the sea has channelled a cave through a sandstone headland and south, in another bay, lies a Torridonian sandstone boulder field where brightly coloured lichens can be found.

Day 7 – Canna and Sanday

We head along the east side of Rum towards, Canna’s the north cliffs which rise 200 metres from the sea. These are home to thousands of the breeding seabirds, which include, puffin, razorbills, shags, kittiwakes and white-tailed eagles. In the afternoon, we will sail to Sandy to photograph the basalt stacks on which a large colony of puffins’ nest.

Day 8 – Return to Mallaig

Following breakfast, we board the Mary Doune for the final time and return to Mallaig. For those travelling by rail, we arrive at 0830 in time to catch the morning train back to Glasgow.

ACCOMMODATION & FOOD

The accommodation is a Scandinavian style wilderness with a spacious interior and eight bedrooms. The rooms are located on the upper level while the ground floor consists of a large lounge and open plan kitchen, which is used only for tea and coffee –all meals, including breakfast, are served in the restaurant. Shared bathroom facilities are adjacent to the kitchen, with showers, basins, and toilets – there are no en-suite rooms.

Freshly prepared, locally sourced meals are enjoyed in the adjacent ‘Taste of Scotland’ accredited restaurant and are a real highlight of the trip, with freshly caught seafood a particular specialty. Special dietary requirements can be catered for. The restaurant is licensed and offers an excellent choice of wines, beers, and spirits.

Knoydart and the Small Isles
Colin Prior