Skye 2019: Part Two
20 June 2019
After Neist point, My intention was to go to Dunvegan castle, as a good friend had recommended it. Photos online certainly looked like it was a good location, and I found the drive over to be easy and pretty straight forward. As I drove nearer, however, the area became wooded, and it was obvious that getting a view of the castle might be trickier than I thought – indeed as I arrived at the castle car park it became clear that unless I wanted to pay to get in, I might not get a shot at all! As this was a cost saving trip, I had to make the decision, and so decided against paying anything out at this point. I left the car park feeling a little deflated, driving up the road a little more to see whether there might be a viewing point further up. I couldnt find one sadly, just more trees, and fences preventing any access, so I unhappily abandoned this one from this particular trip, just feeling confused on how to reach an opposite shoreline that gave lovely shots of the castle by the water that others had captured. Maybe they were taken in the grounds by a lake, I mused..?? (on my return home, I read online that there is a position that grants a free view, but it looked to be even further on than I drove, so next time I will check that out)
With this site a bust, I decided that I would head over towards Duntulm Castle and Bay, with the aim of trying to do some nice low level, coastal shots, that I havent really managed to get to grips with yet. As I drove over towards, and then through, Uig, on the way, I got lost in happy memories of 2012 of when I had camped here with the children – I couldnt see the site now though, sadly, and wondered further when it had ceased trading. Still lost in my memories, I blindly followed the road round a tight hairpin curve then continued on for a little bit before realising that the sat nav was doing that wonderful thing of ‘You havent been paying attention to me really, have you? You havent noticed that I have stopped working have you?! Well, try and find out where you are now, SUKKAAAAaa!!!’… all I knew right now was that I was driving down a long single lane road, in a very open flat bit of moreland type countryside… somewhere in… Skye…
After thumping the screen and trying to restart the bloody thing, it was clear that I didnt really have much choice but to continue forwards and hope that I would come up to a crossroads or signpost telling me where I was. After a bit, I drove over a cattle grid, and then noticed to my right, a gushing waterfall that was right by the roadside. I didnt recognise this from my list, I didnt recognise it from any other online skye photo I had seen either, so felt the need to stop and explore! There was a parking spot for about two cars, right by the falls, and with a short walk down to the river, I was there within a minute of leaving the Camper. It was lovely down here. A pleasant, flat, green grassy area right by the river, and the falls to the left, it would make a perfect spot for a private picnic in the height of a gloriously sunny day I thought, as there were no other visitors here at all.
As River was sniffing around the whole area, I wandered around seeing if there was a good position where I could get closer to the falls. I suddenly heard a loud splash behind me. I turned round quickly to see my puppy, nose in the air, paddling around blindly in the river- I wasnt sure if she was panicked (I certainly was!) or having a ball! I had never known her to do this before, so I was frightened that she had gotten too close to the edge and fallen in – also terrified that the mass of water from the falls might sweep her away! I immediately ran to the waters edge and tried to encourage her out. She was a good girl, and came back to the edge straight away, and managed to climb out giving herself a good and happy shake, coating me and my camera bag in lots of water droplets and she did. She was clearly not bothered in the slightest about falling in, although, I did notice that she padded behind me for the rest of this stop, and didnt attempt any further swimming trips…
The falls were unbelievably full with it being nearly impossible to get a shot where it didnt look like a great white mass! I was also really pleased to see that I could get really close to the falls themselves, and that there were several large rocks that allowed an easy path towards an even more central position. I wished I had put my wellies on however, as I was just one rock short of getting to a nice central position. I wasnt prepared to risk it on this occasion however, and satisfied myself with trying a few shots from the positions I could get to. The cloud was moving in at some speed, and it wasnt long before I thought that I should get to the camper for cover, as it was soon going to pour with rain for sure! Not knowing the name of these falls, I tried to remember the landscape as best as I could hopefully identifying it later. On my return home, when I tried to find the name of these falls, and couldnt find any. I ended up following my route on google maps and found that the river was the River Rha, and that further down there are actually far nicer falls, which ARE listed as a photographic beauty spot (Gagh! how did I miss those?!) My photos aren’t the ‘Rha Falls’ as listed everywhere, but I will certainly try to find them next time! These falls on the river can be found along an unnamed road that runs between two points on the A855 – just after a hairpin turn at Uig, right across the Totternash towards the Quiraing to Sartle and rejoining the A855 at Brogaig. If it helps anyone, Google maps pinpoints the parking spot as https://goo.gl/maps/cEUSw3av7cRa7Qug8
Onwards! After the waterfall, I continued on in the direction I had been heading, and eventually recognised where I was from everyones photos online. I was at the Quiraing! I pulled over for a brief stop, and realised straight away, that I needed to make this stop a good full day trip. It was as beautiful as everyone had declared it to be, and there were stunning photo opportunities in every direction you looked! I snapped a couple of pictures on my phone quickly, and then continued the drive along the road. Eventually I found myself back on the A855, but took a turn in the wrong direction where my sat nav was still frozen, finding myself now driving down the road towards Portree. When I reached Mealt falls, I realised my mistake, and pulled into the car park there, and quietly beat the stupid toy up. I knew Mealt was going to be a quick stop at some point on this trip, so I thought I may as well do it while I was here!
The car park was a well worn decaying gravel space. There was parking for quite a few vehicles, (even busses), but even then, I had to wait for a space. I didnt wait long however, and the walk to the viewing spot took barely a minute. I immediately realised there were severe restrictions to this shot…basically…well, there was only one place it could be taken from. After standing behind a lot of tourists for several minutes, I got to the singular spot, and snapped a photo on my phone. Being mindful of all those that were waiting behind me for the same shot, I moved away fairly quickly after that. The view was exactly the same as every photo I had seen on the internet, but I thought I would, nonetheless at least try a shot with my Canon camera. I walked back, picked up my kit, waited a few more minutes for another very heavy downpour to pass, then went back out for a second go. This time I waited a long time. I knew I would be using a tripod, as I hoped to still the waters, but the stream of people was unending, and it proved impossible to just wait for a break in the crowd. Bus after bus kept pulling up, and as fast as one group left a second arrived. Eventually I just bit the bullet, and moved in, set up and just allowed people to snap photos around me as I sorted myself out. I wasnt the most popular person there, it had to be said – tho River, sitting dutifully next to me, pretty much was, and distracted a lot tourists from their frustrations with her puppy dog eyes. The railing proved to make matters really complicated, as I tried to prop the tripod around, on, against it, and in just about every other position, in an attempt to get a stable position. Nothing worked well and the barrier just got in the way. I think maybe a gorillapod type of tripod might manage this a lot better – if there was one that could hold the weight of a heavy SLR camera, plus lens, plus filters…. Eventually I got there, and I was able to get a few photos, leaving as fast as I could afterwards. The Photos felt no different to the ones I had caught on my phone, so I did wonder whether it had really been worth the rather stressful effort. My recommendation here, would be to get here early, or come later to avoid the crowds, and to allow yourself time to set up properly. Also, try to check the best time of day for the sun to rise or set against the cliff face.. that might add something to the shot, as might a bit of drama in the weather or the sea below..as it was, for me, I left feeling a little ‘meh’ about it, and didnt even bother to return.
Now… which way was Duntulm from here again???