From a first look around the Scottish Highlands, it’s easy to immediately get the feeling you’ve stepped into every fantasy novel ever written. Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, they all seem to draw from the landscape of one of the wildest places left in Europe. The steep cliffs, rugged shores, and a deep illuminating light peaking from behind clouds all create an undeniable magic that echoes through the hills. For anyone going to the Scottish Highlands, if not already for the sole purpose of capturing the ethereal scenes, have your camera ready.
These days, Instagrams have replaced the passport stamp as the main proof of visit. While getting a picture of Nessie the Lochness monster is the ultimate goal in Scotland, for all the passionate photographers out there, wanting to prove quality images can still be taken, head to these spots in the Highlands.
An expansive bog of small shrubbery and peat of every conceivable earth tone, Rannoch Moor has been protected land since 1976. Dramatic changes take place in all four seasons, and with The Black Mount hovering in the background, it’s an ideal place for landscape photography. Explore the surrounding Glen Etive for more scenic areas, including River Etive, a popular destination for extreme kayakers.
On a small rocky peninsula reaching into the North Sea lurks the ruined watchtower fortress of Dunnottar Castle. Historically, the castle is known as the stronghold where the Scottish Crown jewels were hidden during an invasion by an angry English monarch. A perspective from the path leading up to the cliff side Dunnottar is sure to be a great shot.
A famous volcanic valley, or glen, Glen Coe is a popular area for its scenery as rivers and mountains descend into shimmering lochs. Great photo opportunities include the view of Pap of Glencoe, a mountain on the north side of the glen, or switch it up and hike to the top of the Pap and get a shot of Glencoe Village on the shores of Loch Leven.
Isle of Skye
Just off the northwest coast of the mainland, Isle of Skye is one of Scotland’s most popular islands for splendid natural beauty. There is no limit to the number of amazing photo-shoot locales, some of the best including The Storr, a hill climbing from the sea topped with dramatic vertical rock formations, the westerly Neist Point, a slanting grass-covered cliff originating at sea’s end where a classic lighthouse sits, and The Fairy Pools, a system of waterfalls known for their clear blue and green cascades.
The British Isles’ tallest peak at 4,413 feet, Ben Nevis is a popular playground for hikers, climbers, and of course photographers. Snap-happy folks will be pleased by the focal points that compliment the foreground of shots of Ben Nevis, with sweeping fields, wildflowers, and streams all leading to the origins of the mountain’s promontory, adding some depth to great images.
Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan Castle rises from the intersection of three different lochs, Loch Alsh, Loch Long, and Loch Duich. Because of the location and attractive, intact stone walls and bridge, the lakeside site makes it arguably the most photogenic castle in the world. The angles available to photographers make this a must-capture in any season.