Outer Hebrides Photo Tour Scotland – Vatersay, Barra and the Uists. 16th – 22nd September*
This week long photo adventure is set to explore and capture the wild autumn light of the southern part of the Outer Hebridean archipelago from the Island of Vatersay in the south to Berneray to the north.
Tags; Outer Hebrides Photo Tour Scotland
Vatersay, Barra and Eriskay
These three little islands could easily offer a week’s worth of photography and exploration in themselves.
Barra is often referred to as the “Hebrides in miniature” or “Barrabados,” Barra boasts crystal-clear aqua blue seas and unspoiled silver-golden sands.
Its main settlement, as the name suggests, features the photogenic Kisimul Castle, sitting just 100 meters offshore and dating back to the 16th century. The rugged west coast, buffeted by the Atlantic Ocean’s waves, presents numerous intriguing rocky inlets and bays for dynamic seascape photography.
Heading north, a short isthmus extends into the sea, revealing breathtaking vistas over beautiful Traigh Eas beach. This stunning beach is framed by some of the tallest sand dunes in the British Isles. It’s also worth noting that it overlooks the former residence of Compton Mackenzie in the 1930s, the renowned author of “Whiskey Galore,” which was set on nearby Eriskay.
Another highlight is the magic of Traigh Mor, East Beach, a vast tidal expanse that transforms with the ebb and flow of the sea. At low tide, this unique stretch of sand becomes Barra’s one-of-a-kind airport, where scheduled flights from Glasgow land right on the beach.
Barra is connected to Vatersay by a short causeway and boasts three magnificent beaches, all linked by a breathtaking coastal walk that unveil the island’s natural beauty. As you stroll along, you’ll discover the west beach, adorned with intriguing relics like old boats, weathered tractors, and lobster pots, each telling their own story of island life.
Just a 40-minute ferry ride to the north lies Eriskay, a small island with a big history and unparalleled natural beauty. The Prince’s Beach marks the historic spot where Bonnie Prince Charlie first set foot on Scottish soil, igniting the 1745 Jacobite uprising. Here, you’ll also encounter the Eriskay Ponies, a precious remnant of Scotland’s native horse, with fewer than 300 remaining.
Eriskay is not only steeped in history but is also the setting of the famous novel “Whiskey Galore.” During our visit, we’ll drop by the beachside pub that bears the name of the cargo ship SS Politician, which famously ran aground, leaving its precious cargo of whisky at the mercy of the island’s inhabitants.
South Uist and Benbecula
South Uist is the second-largest island in the Outer Hebrides, connected to Eriskay by a causeway. As you journey through South Uist, you’ll be greeted by numerous lochans and, in the distance, the striking peaks of Ben Mhor and Thacla to the northeast.
North of these peaks lies Loch Druidbeg, a sanctuary for birdlife, with the single-track road offering picturesque views of the mountains. This loch is a haven for birds and is managed by the RSPB. Continuing on the single-track road, you’ll come across Loch Skipport and the 19th-century pier, once the main hub for cargo and shipping on the island.
Venture to the Machair-covered west coast, where you can glimpse golden sands meeting the untamed Atlantic. Dive into history at the Kildonan Museum, which boasts a collection of captivating black and white photographs depicting island life, nearby ruined blackhouses, and the birthplace of Highland heroine Flora Macdonald.
Crossing another causeway over a sandy expanse, you’ll arrive at Benbecula, a place that truly feels like it’s perched at the edge of the world. This low-lying island is mostly inaccessible in the east, home to wild lochs and peaty pools, often frequented by adventurous trout fishermen, like my father in the 1970s.
To the west, follow the coastal road, seizing photography opportunities as the ever-changing weather and light paint a mesmerizing canvas over the sea, and perhaps catch a glimpse of distant, rocky St Kilda on the horizon.
North Uist and Berneray
When gazing upon a map of North Uist, one might easily mistake it for a place dominated by water rather than land – a notion not too far from reality. The tranquil North Uist is, once again, embraced by numerous small lochs, creating an ideal canvas for captivating aerial photography. During low tide, the nearby Baleshare Island appears to levitate in the distance, encircled by pristine white sands that glisten with each ebbing tide. Here, the interplay of tidal currents forms mesmerizing abstract patterns as they gracefully flow out to sea.
On the western front, facing the vast Atlantic, North Uist offers an abundance of splendid beaches, breathtaking vistas, and ancient ruins that beckon exploration. Our journey will take us on a circuit around the island, where we’ll seek out the untamed beauty of natural light and compose our shots with simplicity in mind. Our next destination, accessed by yet another causeway, is the charming little Berneray.
The western coastline of Little Berneray unfolds as an immense stretch of pristine beach, complemented by towering dunes that seemingly stretch to infinity. To the east, the island’s primary settlement provides a diverse range of subjects for leisurely strolls along the shore, from the bustling harbor to the serene bay.
Keep your eyes peeled, as grey seals often make appearances, and on the far side of the bay, you’ll discover deserted houses, further along revealing the inviting expanse of the east beach, adorned with its powdery white sands.
There is nowhere quite like the Outer Hebrides so if you’d like to be part of this Autumn photo adventure please register you interest with Glen early so you don’t miss out.
Staring location – Glasgow (for Oban departure ) on the morning of the 16th September
Ending Location – Glasgow (from Mallaig return) early evening of 22nd September
*You will most likely need an additional night either side of the start and end dates in Glasgow.
Tags: Outer Hebrides Photo Tour Scotland
(There is also the option to fly to Barra from Glasgow with Logan air. Times vary but this could be an option for those shorter on time and then meet up in Castlebay on the evening of the 16th)
3 nights single occupancy accommodations on the island of Barra – venue to be confirmed
3 nights single occupancy accommodation at the comfortable, privately owned Temple View Hotel on the island of North Uist
Meals lunches -packed lunches or cafes along the way. Dinner at local restaurants /pubs as appropriate to our schedule.
Essential equipment camera, ( the best camera is the one you have) lenses with a recommended focal length from 16mm ( wide angle ) to 200mm (telephoto) and good quality sturdy tripod. I carry a 16-35 / 24-70 / 70-200.
Non essential but recommended Polariser, neutral density graduated and straight neutral density filters can be useful a 6 stop little stopper to 10 stop, big stopper. I use Lee ND filters both hard and soft, the drop in type rather than screw in.
If you can bring laptop with Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop or other image editing software might be useful if the weather gets the better of us on some days.. Good quality waterproof camera bag.
What to expect
Participants will be invited to share 6 of their final images in a online gallery with Glen and their fellow participants for comment after the trip via a secure online link.
The Highland’s reliably fickle weather can be a feature of Scotland and her dramatic and romantic landscapes. Conditions can be glorious at times but it’s not unusual to turn cool and rainy at any time of year. This can and often does add to the dramatic nature of light and land. It’s important that you have adequate and good quality outdoor clothing (waterproof jackets and over trousers) including good waterproof hiking boots that are properly waterproof.
Locations and fitness.
Not all locations will be by the roadside, some locations are easy to reach, some require a little effort, walking sometimes on muddy and boggy surfaces. This can involve short hill walks, walks across rocky, uneven terrain and slippy surfaces. Walking times can be up to one hour – one way, however participation is optional at every location.
All ages above 18 years are welcome but a reasonable level of fitness and mobility is required, regardless of age in order to fully participate and appreciate a Lightstalker’s photo adventure or workshop. If you have any doubts of your suitability for a specific trip please contact Glen directly.
You can read some of Glen’s testimonials here
16th - 22nd September 2024
6 nights 7 days
Places available: 5 places ( 3 places left )
Trip fee: £2495.00
Trip deposit £250.00
- 6 nights single occupancy accommodation
- Return ferries to the islands
- Detailed and fully researched itinerary
- Limited edition Beanie
- Evening meals or lunches
- Transport to pick up points
- Alcoholic beverages
- Beaches of Vatersay
- Castlebay Barra
- Borve coastline
- Eriskay Horses
- Machair Dunes
- Loch Druidbeg
- Ben Mhor and Thacla
- Kildonan Museum
- Baleshare Island
- Blackhouse ruins
- Wild Atlantic beaches of North Uist and Berneray
- Experience Hebridean Life
- Local seafood