Cul Mor and Stac Pollaidh
I’m not really an early riser so unlike many proper landscape photographers I can’t seem to drag myself out of bed in the early hours to catch that much sought after golden light of sunrise. However, on this occasion I decided to make the effort and planned to camp out overnight on location. I wanted to choose somewhere not too far from the road and Druim Bad a’ Ghaill in Inverpolly just north of Ullapool seemed to fit the bill. This is one of the most scenic areas in Scotland and contains lots of my favourite kind of terrain, wild moorland scattered with lochans and erratic boulders. I am obviously not alone, as a quick Google image search reveals that this is a popular location with many photographers. The following map shows the location of where the photograph above was made:
We arrived (my wife and I) in the evening, unfortunately just too late to catch some nice light on Beinn an Eoin and the hills on the other side of Loch Lurgainn. There is parking for cars on the right hand side just after the road from Badagyle to Lochinver crosses the crest of the ridge and begins to descend. After a short walk we set up camp near the highest point of the ridge west of the road, just above some lochans. The terrain here can be extremely wet so good waterproof footwear is recommended. There was still some time before sunset so I was able explore the immediate area and make a few images before the light faded.
The sun set about 9.45pm after which we turned in for a few hours sleep before sunrise. It was July and I was up at 3.45 to catch the pre-dawn light. This turned out to be better than the actual sunrise, as fortunately a few clouds appeared about an hour before dawn and lit up before the sun eventually broke the horizon at about 5.15am. During this period, there ensued a frenetic twenty minutes of scampering about the hillside trying to capture as many compositions as possible while the conditions were at their best. I was concentrating my attention on the direction I could see the sun would soon appear, just to the left of Suilven, when I happened to glance to my right and saw the beautiful cloud formation in the featured image of this post. I ran down to the edge of the lochan to position the water in the foreground and capture the reflection of the sky in the still water. As soon as I framed the image in the viewfinder I got that feeling of excitement you get when you know you are about to capture something special. I made plenty of other images that morning but this one is the one I like the most.
Eventually the sun rose into a cloudless blue sky and the best photo opportunities were over. We cooked a leisurely breakfast, packed up the tent and walked back to the car with the haunting call of a diver on one of the nearby lochans in our ears. By 9am we were the only people swimming off a deserted Achnahaird beach on what was already promising to be a scorcher of a day. Maybe it is worth that extra bit of effort to catch the sunrise once in a while after all.
Druim Bad a’ Ghaill is a wonderful location at any time of year, but perhaps even more so in Autumn when the grasses turn golden brown and the more changeable weather increases the chance of dramatic lighting and moody cloudscapes. I will be returning to this area in November 2017 for a weeks stay at Badagyle Cottage, owned by Polly Estates, so watch out for a trip report in due course.