• Daniel Wretham

Photographing Scotland - The Cairngorms

Updated: Jul 25, 2020

The Cairngorms

Part four of my Scottish adventure sees me visiting the Cairngorms National Park in the north east of Scotland.

I had done a little research on the area and in truth it was going to be a "back up" area in case the weather didn't play ball around Glencoe & Skye which was the case on most days.

The Cairngorms only recently gained national park status in 2003 and is the largest national park in the British isles, and there is another planned expansion of the boundaries for the future.

The Cairngorms is not only home to some magnificent mountain ranges & lochs but also to a who host of rare and protected wildlife and is a really unspoilt area.

I had not been able to find out too much information before the trip so it was very much the unknown for me and that always adds to the adventure but as it turned out it was by far the biggest surprise of my Scottish adventure and the one I can't wait to visit again.

The strange thing is I had read a few accounts of people visiting the area who had been fairly negative about it in terms of photographic potential but at the same time I had seen some wonderful images from here so I had mixed feelings about going.

This account is of five days in Scotland where I visited the Cairngorms at several different times but I will put it all together in the order of which I went.

The weather in Glencoe & Skye was shocking to say the least, almost non stop rain and high winds but the north east of Scotland was actually showing some much more favourable conditions and never one to look a gift horse in the mouth I decided on Tuesday to venture over to the Aberdeenshire coast to go to Bow Fiddle Rock, named simply because of its uncanny resemblance to a violin bow.

I had seen this well known rock formation many times and I wanted to visit it myself and then I could go directly to the Cairngorms national park afterwards.

The weather looked good for sunrise at Bow Fiddle and a plan was hatched to go the next morning.

The alarm clock rang out like a demented harpy and brought me out of a deep sleep full of excitement about the mornings trip, I looked outside and that excitement was quickly replaced with a soul crushing sinking feeling as it was raining cats & dogs, in fact it was probably nearly elephants & Rhinos.

I checked the forecast again and it had changed but there was hope on the horizon, it said the weather would clear around sunrise time and I had thoughts in my head of clouds breaking and epic light punching through over Bow Fiddle rock.

The drive down from Inverness was a fairly long one and the weather didn't really look like it was going to do what the weathermen had predicted, it was still raining very hard and thick cloud consumed the sky.

The further I got into the journey the more I wished I wasn't going as it looked like it would be a long trip for nothing but I was over half way now so I kept going.

The cloud did indeed start to ease and break up a bit and the rain stopped and once again it was looking good, that is until nearly all the cloud went and I was left with that arch enemy of all landscape photographers, clear sky.

I pulled into a housing estate which I knew was the right way but it seemed really strange to think that one of the most photogenic rock stacks was right on the back of houses but as I rounded the bend there was no mistaking the top of Bow fiddle rock looking back towards me.

Bow Fiddle Rock

The journey had taken a little longer than planned mainly due to rush hour traffic and a great deal of optimism on my part with the Scottish traffic and sunrise was due within the next ten minutes.

There was a bit of rogue cloud around and this was what I was after, The sun would be coming up from the side of the rock and I was hoping to shoot with one side heavily lit from the sun with the other edge quite dark and just catching the odd glint of morning light.