Escape to the West

Escape to the West

by Iain MacLennan

The allure of fresh air, clear skies and breath-taking landscapes provide a strong attraction that any photographer would find difficult to ignore. Equally, finding untouched and beautiful wilderness has become increasingly challenging in our ever connected modern world. The west coast of Scotland however, is one of the last few places within the UK that manages to achieve that raw sense of disconnect whilst still remaining within a reasonable drive to civilisation.



With an unlikely convoy consisting of a 1998 Land Rover Defender and a similarly aged soft top Alfa Romeo we set off west from Glasgow, in search of turquoise blue waters and soft white sands. Driving the old West Highland Way through Glencoe is a must if routing towards the coast. Glen Etive and the striking Buachaille Etive Mor are impressive as you pass through and well deserved of the fame garnered from their feature in “Skyfall”.




On reflection relying solely on an “intensive” recce of the coastline with Google satellite maps (and just a little bit of local knowledge) was probably not the best method of planning a weekend trip. Nonetheless we traversed west with a Landy full of whisky, beer and BBQ in hope of finding that perfect spot.


Close to our target area we were hindered by roads and terrain unsuitable for the low profile of the mighty Alfa. With a quick shuttle run system in the 4x4 we managed to move the squad (and more importantly the booze!) cross country in to where we hoped we would find our untouched beach.

After a short walk in we were not left disappointed. The headland opened up to reveal the most stunning and pristine cove, complete with glinting blue waters and even a small white sand beach. Tents pitched, we were straight into the water with our tinnies of Tennent’s in hand to celebrate our unlikely success.


Watching the sun set low over the islands of Eigg and Rum was one of the most spectacular scenes I have ever witnessed in the UK. Turbulent dark clouds mixing in with the piercing sunbeams of the fiery red sky provided the perfect backdrop in which to share a dram or two with friends not often seen.

Darkness fell and the sky eventually cleared to reveal the majesty of the Milky Way stretched out above, thousands of stars visible in the light pollution free skies. Fortuitously Mars was in its perihelic orbit and close enough to shine extremely bright in the night sky. This is what any landscape photographer craves for! Unsurprisingly it turns out that setting a tripod and capturing long exposures are much more difficult after half a bottle of the finest Scottish single malt…


Iain is a serving British Army helicopter pilot with a passion for photography. Check
his work on Instagram at @imagesbyiain.

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