Scotland has justifiably become world-renowned as a location for landscape photography. Increasing numbers of hillwalkers and climbers are enjoying photography as a way of interacting with the landscape, and it isn't hard to understand why. Not only is photography engaging and challenging, it encourages us to look at the landscape in new ways. There are countless hills in Scotland which offer superb opportunities for landscape photography - here are eight of the best.
Cul Mor - Assynt and Coigach
The landscapes of Assynt, Coigach and Inverpolly are unlike anywhere else in the world. It is almost impossible to choose a 'best' hill for landscape photography in amongst such a unique area, but Cul Mor is a personal favourite.
Situated between some of the most recognisable summits in the country, including Suilven and Stac Pollaidh, this is easily one of the best overall viewpoints in Scotland. If the views themselves weren't enough, there are plenty of opportunities to find beautiful foregrounds for your photographs, in the form of the sandstone boulders and slabs which cover the summit area. Whether it be at sunset on a calm summer evening, or during the rapidly changing light of a blustery winter day, this is a highly memorable place to spend with your camera.
An Teallach - Ullapool
An Teallach is considered by many to be Scotland's finest mountain - an opinion that is hard to contest. The classic view across the corrie of Toll an Lochain from Bidein a'Ghlas Thuill is jaw-dropping. These are amongst the highest mountain cliffs in the UK, and the scene is one that many landscape photographers have high on their 'wish-list' to capture.
In the autumn and the latter part of the winter, the light of the sunrise fills the corrie, illuminating the cliffs at first light. If you are fortunate enough to get wintry conditions and 'Alpenglow' from the sunrise, then you have the opportunity for truly world-class landscape photography here. If you are even luckier and find yourself above a cloud inversion on An Teallach, then you will have bagged the Holy Grail of Scottish mountain landscape photography.
Beinn Eighe - Torridon
Torridon is a paradise for landscape photography, and almost every summit provides views that are amongst the finest in Scotland. Beinn Eighe is particularly fine for photography, both due to its complex and highly dramatic corries, and its position looking over Liathach - a mountain widely considered to be amongst the UK's most impressive.
There are many classic scenes to be found on and around Beinn Eighe. In Coire Mhic Fhearchair, the view over the loch to Triple Buttress is a firm favourite for many, as is the view in the opposite direction towards the Corbetts of Flowerdale Forest. Ruadh Stac Mor, one of Beinn Eighe's Munro summits, offers brilliant opportunities for panoramic photography, particularly at dawn or dusk during the summer months. The main ridge heading west from Spidean Coire nan Clach is highly memorable for its views towards Liathach. In the winter months, Liathach catches the light of the sunrise, and this is easily amongst the most impressive mountain views in the UK.
Meall a'Ghiubhais - Torridon
Most of the Corbetts to be found in Torridon are exceptional for their views towards the 'big three' of Beinn Eighe, Liathach and Beinn Alligin. Meall a' Ghiubhais is particularly memorable for two reasons - firstly, for the approach up through stunning ancient pinewoods, and secondly, for the views over Beinn Eighe and Loch Maree.
The variety of the surrounding landscape make this a really good bet for photography, as you are not restricted to simply one iconic view which may depend on particular light to make a good photo. And if all else fails and you find the cloud is down on the summit, you could easily spend all photographing the pinewoods on the lower slopes.
Bruach na Frithe - Isle of Skye
There is nowhere else in the UK like the Black Cuillin, unquestionably the most dramatic mountain landscape in the country. That having been said, the Cuillin ridge can be a surprisingly tricky place to photograph effectively from the ridge itself. The terrain is so complex that it can be difficult to find satisfying compositions.
Bruach na Frithe, one of the easiest Munros on Skye, is easily one of the best viewpoints for photography. From here you can look out over the entirety of the Cuillin ridge, stretching out in a series of graceful curves and imposing summits. This is a brilliant place to spend an evening with the camera, as the Western flank of the ridge catches the light of the sunset for most of the year. It is well worth heading over to Sgurr a'Bhasteir as well, as from here the views of Am Basteir and Sgurr nan Gillean are truly striking.
Carn Mor Dearg - Lochaber
Carn Mor Dearg is well known for its classic Grade I ridge traverse, and for its expansive views of the North face of Ben Nevis. There is no other location from which 'The Ben' looks so impressive.
Carn Mor Dearg's prominence and east-facing aspect ensures it is an outstanding location for sunrise photography throughout the year. There is something for everyone here - huge cliffs, curving ridges, distant lochs and panoramic views over some of Scotland's most beautiful hills. In winter this can be a place of Alpine splendour, particularly if you manage to get out early and reach the summit for sunrise. During periods of high pressure, Carn Mor Dearg is a fairly reliable summit to head to when a cloud inversion is forecast. Inversion conditions are not at all uncommon here, particularly during the autumn months.
Buachaille Etive Beag - Glencoe
No - not that 'Buachaille'…but rather its less showy neighbour. These two Munros, joined by a broad ridge, are not only relatively accessible, they also sport some of the best views to be found in Scotland's most famous glen.
Stob Coire Raineach, the northerly of the two Munros, sits in a prime position for views over the complexities of Bidean nam Bian and Stob Coire Sgreamhach. This is a view which really comes into its own in winter, and this is a good location for when deep snow is making it difficult to get to remoter locations. Stob Dubh, the more southerly of the two Munros, is particularly memorable for its views towards Glen Etive. Like many other hills bordering Rannoch Moor, Buachaille Etive Beag can be quite reliable for cloud inversions. If you are lucky, you may even be joined by one of the friendly ravens which often approach people on the summits!
The high places of the Cairngorms, although undeniably beautiful, are notoriously difficult to photograph effectively. The vast, sprawling nature of the terrain can make it tricky to find interesting compositions.
Ben Macdui, the second highest mountain in the UK, provides some of the best opportunities for photography anywhere on the Cairngorm plateau. Its position overlooking the depths of the Lairig Ghru and the corries of Braeriach ensures plenty of drama in the views from the normal walking route. Away from the paths, there are numerous opportunities for 'minimal' images showing distant walkers and mountaineers dwarfed by the landscape. Mountain photography isn't all about wide-angle lenses - take a telephoto lens with you and you may be surprised at the opportunities which present themselves.
About James Roddie
James Roddie is an award-winning professional photographer and writer specialising in the wild places and wildlife of the Scottish Highlands. He is an active hillwalker, climber and caver based near Inverness. James runs outdoor photography workshops throughout the Scottish Highlands, and is a regular contributor to some of the UK's most prominent outdoors publications.
For more of his images and writing see www.jamesroddie.com
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