National Geographic Adventures

Scotland Photo Adventure

  • 8-day hiking adventure with a National Geographic photographer
  • Activity Rating: Moderate

Trip Details

 

Scotland’s western edge is a picturesque upheaval of geology, where rocky crags jut out of sweeping valleys, velvety green hills take all manner of odd shapes, and mountainous islands loom in the sea’s mist. Encounter the untamed Highlands and the Inner Hebrides islands with your camera in hand, photographing glittering lakes and waterfalls, fantastic geologic formations, and ancient sites. Hike to abbeys and castles for photo shoots in the golden light of late afternoon, document lively street life in Edinburgh and Scotland’s harbor villages, and cruise deep into the Cuillin mountain range for a photo hike among its jagged peaks.

Trip Highlights

  • Hone your photo techniques with National Geographic photographer Catherine Karnow or Jim Richardson.
  • Explore five islands, two national parks, and the UNESCO World Heritage site of Edinburgh on a variety of photo hikes and walks.
  • Document the colorful traditions of Highland life on visits to remote villages.
  • Photograph medieval architecture and evocative ruins on shoots at historic castles and abbeys.

Itinerary - 8 Days

Day 1 — Edinburgh, Scotland

Arrive in Edinburgh and transfer to our hotel. After taking some time to relax, meet for our first photo shoot: an afternoon walk along the Royal Mile. As we wind our way from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Park, frame sharp church spires, cobbled alleyways, and the warmly lit windows of age-old pubs. A short hike brings us up the knoll of Arthur’s Seat, where we’ll capture the cityscape from an outstanding vantage point. Tonight, gather for an orientation and a welcome dinner at the hotel.
Bruntsfield Hotel (D)

Day 2 — The Trossachs /Oban

Head west after breakfast, stopping for a warm-up hike in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park—Scotland’s first national park, established in 2002. Our trail takes us up to the pointed summit of Ben A’an to photograph sweeping views of Loch Katrine, a stunning lake that inspired Sir Walter Scott to write The Lady of the Lake. After lunch, continue to the port town of Oban, the gateway to the wild islands that stretch along Scotland’s west coast. Walk the lively harbor with your camera in hand or pay a visit to the local whisky distillery for a guided tour. (2-3 miles hiking, 3 hours)
Oban Caledonian Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 3 — Kerrera: The Green Isle

Directly across from Oban lies the isle of Kerrera. Here, we’ll set off on an intriguing hike through history that's full of great photographic opportunities. Pass Horseshoe Bay, where King Alexander II of Scotland died in 1249 while preparing to drive the Norwegian army out of western Scotland. Shoot different perspectives of Gylen Castle, perched dramatically on the cliff’s edge. Built as a stronghold of the MacDougall clan in 1582, the castle was besieged and burned in 1647. Head up into the hills to photograph the Island of Mull in the distance. Return to Oban by ferry this afternoon. (6-7 miles hiking, 4-5 hours)
Oban Caledonian Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Isles of Mull, Iona, and Staffa

Board the morning ferry to the Island of Mull, the second largest of the Inner Hebrides. Cross to the west coast and take a boat to the uninhabited isle of Staffa to visit Fingal’s Cave. Spend time capturing images of the wild geology and geometry of the cave and its sea-splashed hexagonal basalt shafts. End the day on Iona, a tiny island off the tip of Mull that has drawn pilgrims since St. Columba established a monastery here in the sixth century. In the late afternoon light, take a photo hike past pristine beaches, an ancient nunnery, and a stunning medieval abbey. (3 miles hiking, 1-2 hours)
Oban Caledonian Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Glen Coe and Glen Nevis/Isle of Skye

Travel north, tracing the eastern shores of Loch Linnhe into a mystical landscape of sweeping slopes and rocky peaks, and stopping for photo shoots along the way. Pass the western end of Glen Coe, scene of a historic massacre of the MacDonald clan in 1692, before continuing to Fort William. Join a conservationist and John Muir historian for a guided hike beneath the hulking summit of Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the United Kingdom. Later this afternoon, follow the “road to the isles” and get your first images of the Isle of Skye as we cross to its shores. (3-4 miles hiking, 3 hours)
Bosville Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Northern Skye

The spectacular landscapes of northern Skye rise in soft, grassy slopes that drop off in sheer cliffs, and rock formations that spike and curl. The setting is perfect for a lesson in landscape photography. Set off on foot into this magical place, rich with legend and intrigue. Hike beneath the Quiraing and the Old Man of Storr, photographing different angles on these unusual rock formations as we learn a fascinating story of geologic turmoil. Later, venture into Dunvegan Castle, the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland, and the stronghold of the MacLeod chiefs for some 800 years. Listen to the colorful history of the clan as we explore elegant staterooms and the dungeon, and photograph the beautiful gardens. (6-7 miles hiking, 4-5 hours)
Bosville Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Cuillin Hills

Along Skye’s southern edge, the Cuillin mountains, often called the Black Cuillin, rise abruptly in rocky crests formed from dark volcanic gabbro. We’ll take the less-traveled route into the Cuillins, approaching from the south by boat via narrow Loch Coruisk, which offers a dramatic perspective for photographers. Circumnavigate the loch, taking in magnificent views of the peaks that tower over its shores. Then enjoy an incredible photo hike among these fabled slopes. (6-7 miles hiking, 4-5 hours)
Bosville Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Skye/Edinburgh

After breakfast, start our journey back to Edinburgh, stopping along the way for lunch and a short hike to photograph the beautiful Falls of the Bruar in Cairngorms National Park. Arrive in Edinburgh in the late afternoon and transfer to the city center or to the airport for your flight home. (3 miles hiking, 1-2 hours)
(B,L)

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About Adventures

National Geographic Adventures are unique, active itineraries for intrepid travelers that combine spectacular places, cultural interaction, and physical challenge. You'll explore fascinating, off-the-beaten-path places with top guides, and wherever possible, meet National Geographic experts in the field.

Trip Expert

Catherine Karnow

Catherine KarnowBorn and raised in Hong Kong, photographer Catherine Karnow first traveled across Scotland to illustrate a book on Scotch whisky. She has returned many times for various assignments. Over a twenty-five year career, Catherine has photographed everything from Australian Aborigines and Bombay film stars to the victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam. She has shot over twenty feature stories for National Geographic Traveler and captured rare images of Prince Charles for the May 2006 National Geographic Magazine feature "Not Your Typical Radical."

Catherine will join the following departure:

Jun 06 - 13, 2015

SEE THE REST OF THE TEAM »

Dates

2015
  • Jun 06 - 13, 2015 (waitlist only)

Trip Cost

2015

$5,995

Price is per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $600. International airfare to/from Edinburgh is not included in the adventure cost.

GROUP SIZE: 8–16

See special terms and conditions for this adventure.

Activity Level

Moderate

We will be hiking 1 to 5 hours per day (2.5 to 7 miles) on moderate to steep grades at low elevations. During hikes, vehicle support is provided at various points while in the highlands, but will be limited while on the islands. Participants always have the option to rest a day and ride to the next hotel. We will stay in ideally located hotels that reflect the local character.

Click here for a description of all activity levels.

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