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Lochnagar

Landscape and wildlife photography - venues, cameras and the know-how!

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Landscape and wildlife photography - venues, cameras and the know-how!

I sometimes take two cameras into the hills with me, I suppose if you count my emergency phone then three! My wee Canon EOS-M has interchangeable lenses which is great for some wildlife pics and I also have an adapter that means it can take almost any lens. It’s a great little camera but my one regret is it has no viewfinder eyepiece, so looking at the screen on bright days is useless. The newer version has a viewfinder, I can’t justify it though! The 200mm lens is good enough for my wildlife shots as I’m usually close enough anyway and with the other group kit I take in my bag, this camera and lens is heavy enough for me! 

Ptarmigan 200mm lens  

Ptarmigan 200mm lens  

I’ve also found out the Canon can also be used to carry water and still be used after it dries out. OK, this is not recommended but did happen to me during a guided tour of the coliseum, me being guided for a change and completely forgetting to look after my kit! (We bailed after 20mins of torrential rain and cold wind..) 

Views from Sgòr Mòr 

Views from Sgòr Mòr 

Frustratingly landscape photos are sometimes better on my IPhone which is fine as it makes it so quick and easy to share. I must take hundreds of photos so I guess I’m getting better at framing the shot and knowing what works. My Canon is good in low light conditions or for night shots, the phone is just not up to the task. I’ve been lucky to snap Aurora shots and weather ones too. 

Hopeman beach storms

Hopeman beach storms

Aurora in my garden

Aurora in my garden

My shots are mostly luck though....don’t ask me to explain an ISO or F number...but I could probably give enough advice to get you going! Luckily I have some friends that pass on tips and they will be joining me for a photography workshop next month as we head to the loch of Lochnagar for some landscape and hopefully wildlife photography. The #IGERSAberdeen team will be on hand to give advice and explain correctly how to take those perfect shots. I’ll be in the background with my IPhone taking snaps and trying to look as though I know what I’m doing! I will be able to point out the interesting features though and take them to an amazing place. If you’d like to join this walk get in touch, you can reserve a place here.  

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Summer Highlights!

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Summer Highlights!

Summer highlights!

As unpredictable summer in Scotland can be, I've been very fortunate not to have postponed any of my planned walks. Only once did I have to change my route plans due to weather and that was with a Bronze DofE group near Rynie! A small burn crossing turned into a fast-flowing river! This of course was an ideal intervention to teach hazards and dynamic risk assessments. The weather is never a barrier though and mostly, for me anyway, it's been a good summer. 

You shall not pass

You shall not pass

I've had a few DofE groups throughout the summer, volunteering for Banchory, also freelancing for other providers. There's always a story, a drama, a moan and a groan but followed by a sense of achievement as they finish their expedition. These expeditions they'll remember forever, locked in the memory for the good and the bad, mostly for the good. If led correctly the experience will nurture a love and respect for the outdoors. This combined with the other sections of DofE, the participants learn life skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Dreich DofE..

Dreich DofE..

Apart from my own groups qualification, my favourite DofE trip this year was a week over in Arran supervising a gold team. I’d not been to Arran for many years and forgot how stunning it was. Dramatic landscapes and beautiful coastal walks. Walking through Glen Sannox, over to Glen Rosa gives you a intricate view of the ridge walks on the island. I’ll have to go back sometime for a proper look over these.

Glen Rosa

Glen Rosa

I’ve continued to run mini introductory hill skills at the Bennachie Visitor Centre and will continue these next year. These give a wee introduction to map reading and navigation. The follow up from this course would be the National Navigation Award Scheme courses, I’ll be running more of these in the next few months too. James in the picture attended a Bennachie session and also achieved the Bronze NNAS award, I’ve no doubt he’ll continue to progress through the stages and soon be better than me!

James, future Mountain Leader!

James, future Mountain Leader!

Map setting below Mither Tap

Map setting below Mither Tap

I’ve also been fortunate to guide some lovely clients (now friends) over the hills this year. The Turriff and District Round Table team continued their quest to find Munro his home. These guys did an excellent job of walking up 17 Munros for local charities, finishing on Ben Nevis last weekend where Munro found his dad… I had great fun walking with those gents. Well done to them!

Turriff Team

Turriff Team

Another satisfying trip to Glencoe with some repeat clients too.

Buachaille Etive Mor

Buachaille Etive Mor

Painting the Stuic just below Lochnagar summit.

Watercolour time.

Watercolour time.

As a family we had some relax time over the school holidays in between my walk, some walking involved obviously… A lovely week with our extended family in Portugal then back to the cooler isle of Harris and Lewis. We also decided to take the leap and get a pooch, Luna will be joining me on the hills next year!

Paddling in Portugal

Paddling in Portugal

Beautiful Harris

Beautiful Harris

Hillgoers latest team member - Luna!

Hillgoers latest team member - Luna!

In between clients I've be strolling over the Cairngorms looking for flora and breathtaking views. My wild camp by Loch Etchachan a couple of months ago under the stars, looking north for the aurora, was a special evening. Watching the sun dip her last rays over Beinn Mheadhoin and waking up to the vibrant colours that early morning brings, has to be seen.

Loch A'an

Loch A'an

As we approach winter please look out for some winter skills training if you intend venturing to the hills in the snow, I can't wait! 

Hillgoers can offer guided winter walks when the snow arrives, low level walks also available.

Lochnagar in winter

Lochnagar in winter

Contact us for any bespoke walks or training :)

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Dark Lochnagar

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Dark Lochnagar

"Brave Caledonia dear are thy mountains, I sigh for the valley o' dark Lochnagar".

I've lost count of the times I've been to Lochnagar but I'll never tire of it. There's a reason why so many songs and poems have been sung about the mountain and loch, it's a mysterious place with a stunning landscape that looks different each time I visit.

Glen Muick

Glen Muick

Prince Charles tells a story of a wee old man with hairy knees living in a cave by the loch and I can almost believe it. I've been there on days with no wind or people and the only noise you pick up is a grouse or ptarmigan. I could imagine the wee old man fishing on by the loch when I headed home!

Meikle Pap and Cuidhe Crom

Meikle Pap and Cuidhe Crom

I've also been there on days like this week when the wind roars through the col. On days like that there’s not much waiting about admiring views down to the loch, the wind saps the temperature from you. There’s plenty of boulders to shelter behind though, which I did whilst I ate my lunch.

Dark Lochnagar

Dark Lochnagar

A visit to Lochnagar on a windy day between Christmas and Hogmanay

Lochnagar hosts some of the rarest wildflowers in Scotland, the soil being slightly richer than that of the neighbouring Cairngorms. The black face of the corrie is not the true colour, when the snow clears you can see fresh rock fall and the true pinkish rock, lichen growing for possibly thousands of years give the black appearance, adding to the dark Lochnagar.

I’ll be visiting Lochnagar on many occasions next year, join me and I can tell you even more about this magical place.

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