Duration of Course: 6 days ----- £1725 Ceilidh Place Hotel
(Half Board Single Occupancy of twin/double ensuite rooms).
* Maximum group size FOUR
* Dawn - dusk field tuition
* Review images
* All transport at location included.
* Pick up/drop off to/from Inverness accommodation or train Station.
Every photographer has a favourite location and if pushed to choose one, this would be mine. The sheer variety of breathtaking scenery provides an inexhaustible supply of photographic material, from individual shapely mountains like Stac Pollaidh and Cul Mor to the outrageous high domed peak of Suilven and thence to lush woodlands and pure white sand beaches that dazzle the eyes whilst surrounded by lagoons of turquoise and aquamarine. Truly even the Caribbean would be hard pushed to compete with the appearance of some of the West coast beaches, though your toes might drop off in the numbing cold water. Inverpolly and neighbouring Assynt even has its fair share of impressive waterfalls, great for those days when the sun refuses to put in an appearance. In my opinion these two regions of Scotland have it all, including the best pie shop in Scotland (I kid you not). Ullapool will be our base on the outskirts of the Inverpolly reserve. It is the biggest highland town in the area and it is also the gateway to the Isles of Lewis and Harris, but it isn't big and it's not ugly, it is in fact a gorgeous little fishing town set on picturesque Loch Broom.
During the six day Autumn course you will be staying half board at the charming family run Ceilidh Place Hotel, a relaxed and friendly premises with charm, character and fine home cooked meals. You won't find a kettle, or tea / coffee making facilities in your room, neither will you find a TV, instead you get a wonderful homely and comfortable communal lounge on the first floor, just outside your individually named rooms containing a pot pourri of different seats, slumpy sofas and chaise long, all of which positively beg you to curl up with a decent book and sup tea. This you'll get from the attached communal kitchen where all those tea/coffee making facilities missing from your room are kept, together with a fridge, milk, bread, butter, jam and an honesty box driven bar with an assortment of whiskies and liquors. It really is a perfect relaxing base for your photographic adventure with easy access to outstanding locations.
Six days at the peak of Autumn colour shows Inverpolly and Assynt cloaked in colours with drizzled gold leafed birch trees lining the slopes of shapely mountain peaks cloaked in copper coloured Deer Grass. When fortune smiles you can find yourself taking one shot after another of exactly the same composition with shafts of sunlight piercing moody grey skies replete with dazzlingly vivid rainbows, it's breathtaking and it's transient and you are left with the enviable task of deciding which of those rapid fire collection of images was your finest. The weather of course is unpredictable, it can just as easily rain, sleet, hail or snow all within a few minutes. The wind can blow harshly whipping the sand on the coastal beaches into stunning sculptural forms re-shaping and cleansing the dunes, but it can just as easily be the opposite, breathlessly still, displaying immense reflections and stunning sunrise and sunset colours, such is the nature of this place.
Scotland can and does throw everything at you, so you need to be dressed appropriately that means layered clothing, wind/water resistant jackets, hats and gloves and stout walking boots. Alan Whicker said it best back in the seventies when he emerged from his pleasant hotel in Delhi onto a dusty backstreet to be interviewed in a black jacket and tie. " Well any fool can be uncomfortable", he said.
Make sure you are appropriately dressed and you will get so much more from your trip.
For those wishing to join either of the Inverpolly courses, it is best to arrive on the day before it commences and stay overnight in Inverness based accommodation OR take the overnight sleeper train from Euston - London to arrive in Inverness around 08.30 hours on the morning of the commencement date. I will be making pick-ups from Inverness accommodation and from the train station around 10am on the morning of the start of the course whereat I will drive to Ullapool and our hotel for arrival there around 12.30pm. With just five folk (including the driver) on board my seven seater, there will be plenty of room for gear and luggage at either end of the course and even more room to spread yourselves out once the luggage is deposited in your hotel rooms. Small groups present far better group dynamics and enable me to gift much more time and assistance to help you with capturing these mesmerisingly beautiful landscapes.
So where might we venture? Inverpolly and Assynt covers a substantial area but here are a few highlights. Stac Pollaidh a diminuitive mountain with a volcanically sharp and shapely peak out of all proportion to its size. It is instantly recognisable and virtually guarantees to be an awe inspiring subject for your eye to rest on no matter the complexity of your chosen composition. Achnahaird bay has dune backed, immense sandy beaches with a beautiful rocky foreshore, above all it probably has the most distinctive and magisterial skyline in Scotland as a backdrop, truly irresistable, expect to make more than one trip there. The Summer Isles viewpoint offers a west coast view of a hundred islands stepping away into the distance.
Assynt is just a little further along and the landscape if anything becomes even wilder. Tiny Ardvreck castle on Loch Assynt makes a brilliant autumn shot, both morning and evening.The gorgeous white sand beaches at Achmelvich and Clachtol are a must see and there is a stunningly impressive hidden waterfall tucked away from view. If during the autumn course conditions prove to be relatively benign and wind free it may be possible to do a hill climb to the summit plateau of Stac Pollaidh. The views from the top ridge are nothing short of breathtaking, with the whole of Assynt laid out like a map, Cul Mor, Cul Beag, Suilven and the Coigach hills all rising from the water saturated moorland plateau.
6 Day Autumn Course. Grade: Moderate Mostly short duration walks, average fitness required. Terms and Conditions apply.