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E S
27-Jul-2010, 14:07
Hi all, I'm thinking about taking a very short photography trip to the Highlands of Scotland in early fall. I have always wanted to take the direct train from London to Inverness, simply because of the music of the station names that it calls at, as much as things to see and so on. The trip will most likely be in September, although October is also a possibility given that I need to balance work travel, other personal events, and hotel availability.

I can stay for free at a hotel in either Aviemore, on the west side of the Cairngorms park, or Ballater on the east side. Staying at Ballater means I don't get to take the direct train, but oh well, there will be other chances if I don't take it now.

My main photography interest here where I live (Provence) is Roman ruins and old chateaus and other ruins; I have a feeling that all of those will be fairly thin on the ground in the Cairngorms! I have not had a lot of luck doing MF landscape work, largely because I haven't put in the work needed, but since I'm just starting out with LF, well, I'm back at the bottom of the learning curve and hopefully that will help me feel less defeated. I'm always willing to try landscape photography again and see what happens.

Has anyone visited either Aviemore or Ballater, and could give me any suggestions? No kids, moderate to low physical fitness (not out to scale Everest, but I'm not dead yet either). I'd appreciate any insight anyone has. Thanks!

Elizabeth

Martin Aislabie
27-Jul-2010, 14:49
Aviemore is a great place to be based - it is the largest town in the area

The train to Inverness calls at Aviemore.

There are plenty of great photographic opportunities and a good local bus service that covers the area.

The physical task can be as easy or demanding as you want - but there are plenty of good locations without having to scale Cairngorm itself.

Landscape photography in the Highlands (like all landscape photography but more so) is very weather dependant.

I would aim for Sept for three reasons

1) As a rule Sept is generally better and dryer than October - but you never can tell

2) The tourist season is still on in Sept (although winding down). If you leave it until Oct you may find some of the local busses are not operating "out of season"

3) In Sept the heather will be in bloom (probably over by Oct)

Be prepared for almost any weather - from snow to shorts and a tee-shirt.

The lake at the base of Cairngorm Mountain is photographically interesting with good mountain vistas and plenty of interesting detail too - and the road to Cairngorm complete with bus service runs along one side of it too.

Have a great time

Martin

Steven Tribe
27-Jul-2010, 15:48
No Roman ruins 'cos the Romans stopped their advance well before there (Hadrian's wall - not as well preserved as the Great Wall of China). The grouse shooting season starts on the 12th of August and continues until December but this is done in open ground so you should be seen!

Pete Watkins
28-Jul-2010, 00:00
If you're planning rail travel in the U.K. try to book well (2/3 months) in advance to save a small fortune in fares. You would need to book a ticket on a specific train on a specified date. Miss any of the trains and it'll cost you a packet. An example is that I'm going to a show in London in September and by booking in advance it's costing me 13-00 UKP return. That's 7-00 to London and 6-00 home. Without booking early it could have cost me anything up to 100.
Be warned, it's Rip Off Britain,
Pete.

dave_whatever
28-Jul-2010, 01:04
Take some midge repellant! Shouldn't be too bad by september, but if you're caught out of the wind you could still be eaten alive.

Martin Aislabie
28-Jul-2010, 21:00
Take some midge repellant! Shouldn't be too bad by september, but if you're caught out of the wind you could still be eaten alive.

Dave may be didn't emphasise this enough

Buy the strongest midge repellent you can get !

The midges are a terrible problem in the highlands in the summer months.

Any of the local (to Aviemore) pharmacies will sell suitable strength stuff.

The other "must have" is stout pair of waterproof walking boots

Martin

E S
29-Jul-2010, 00:00
Many thanks to all for your advice! And good point on the midge repellent.

Unfortunately for me, there's no way I'm going to have time to do the train up from London on this trip, however Peter I very much appreciate your hint on booking early!

Steven, thanks for the comment about grouse shooting. Is there any etiquette to know... don't go stomping through the heather if I see men with guns standing about, etc.? I try to stay on the good side of men with guns.

And good tips on the "prepare for anything" and the waterproof walking boots. Need to get some of those anyway, my only walking shoes are trainers at the moment.

Thanks again, all!

Steven Tribe
29-Jul-2010, 02:21
Someone with more knowledge of Hiking in the Highlands must respond. I know that much of it is owned by the Forestry Commission/Scottish National Trust/Large Consortium of owners. This means that they maximise their leasing income from hunting (stags and grouse) and fishing rights (salmon) whilst hikers are not an income source - apart from fines!

If these midges are the same as the ones I know from Scandinavia/Greenland, then a full hat/head covering fine net is absolutely necessary for comfort.

Steve Goldstein
29-Jul-2010, 04:19
You might take a look at this: http://www.midgie.net/

It's something I've thought about purchasing for what we call "black flies" here in the Colonies. FWIW, I was in that part of Scotland in 1986 during the 2nd week or September or so, and had absolutely no trouble with bugs. But the climate's warmed, and your mileage may vary.

dave_whatever
29-Jul-2010, 04:46
The prevailing midge situation depends a lot of factors such as the weather, rainfall, and how late the last frost of the winter was. As a result there are bad summers and not so bad summers, I don't know what this year is like. Generally any location with a bit of breeze will be fine, if you're out of the wind then expect to find midges.

If you're also treading anywhere near bracken, long grass or other undergrowth where sheep are around you want to be aware of ticks. You can't avoid them, just make sure you check yourself every day - preferably getting someone else to check the areas "where the sun don't shine" (or take a mirror).

Don't be put off though, just remember to sample some of the local ales, there's no better way to forget about a few midge bites.

Martin Aislabie
30-Jul-2010, 08:02
Grouse shooting (or Pheasants in Sept) is done on top of the high Fells well away from the average walker

If you are lugging an LF kit around, it is very very unlikely you will be in the same territory (unless you are some sort of superhuman).

There are always lots of people around a shoot (mainly beaters and game wardens - the first to disturb the birds and the second to prevent you getting anywhere near their precious birds)

The sound of Shotguns being fired might also be a bit of a clue :rolleyes:

Martin

E S
30-Jul-2010, 10:30
Grouse shooting (or Pheasants in Sept) is done on top of the high Fells well away from the average walker

If you are lugging an LF kit around, it is very very unlikely you will be in the same territory (unless you are some sort of superhuman).

There are always lots of people around a shoot (mainly beaters and game wardens - the first to disturb the birds and the second to prevent you getting anywhere near their precious birds)

The sound of Shotguns being fired might also be a bit of a clue :rolleyes:

Martin

I'm definitely not a superhuman! Although the hilltop views look lovely, well, that's just not me right now. And yes, the sound of the shotguns would be a clue indeed. Down here in Provence, the hunters go out for sanglier in the fall -- at least out in the Var departement, I think up in the mountains it's a bit more serious -- by driving out along one of the back roads, parking their little white utility trucks along the side of the road where they know there's a boar trail, getting out their dog, their folding table, their folding chair, their gun, and their favorite alcoholic beverage, then sitting and waiting for a sanglier to walk in front of their gun. Fall in Provence is a fun time.



If you're also treading anywhere near bracken, long grass or other undergrowth where sheep are around you want to be aware of ticks. You can't avoid them, just make sure you check yourself every day - preferably getting someone else to check the areas "where the sun don't shine" (or take a mirror).

Don't be put off though, just remember to sample some of the local ales, there's no better way to forget about a few midge bites.

Dave, thanks for the hint on the ticks. It's been so long since I was in tick country I hadn't even thought about it. Actually, I was planning on sampling the local single malts, not the ales... but I could lead off with the ales then transition to the single malts later in the evening!

I'm still waiting for my meeting schedule in September to firm up, but I hope to do this trip in September as well. I'm going to be going to Aviemore, rather than Ballater, as Aviemore is easier to reach from Edinburgh. Thanks to all for the help.

Elizabeth