1 Cùl Beag - Highland
2 Corran Narrows - Highland
3 Coire an t-Sneachda - Highland
4 Gummer's How - Cumbria
5 Porthleven - Cornwall
6 Latrigg - Cumbria
7 Hengist bury - Head Dorset
8 Loch Lurgainn - Highland
9 River Brathay - Cumbria
10 White Nancy - Cheshire
1 Cùl Beag - Highland
There are few places in mainland Britain that feel as wild and remote as northwest Scotland. Here, among the wide expanse of Assynt and Inverpolly, some truly sublime mountains surround a vast, uninhabited maze of moorland and lochs. Walking into this big landscape makes you feel very small and insignificant, an experience amplified in winter when you can have a whole mountain to yourself and spend entire days trekking through virgin snow.
Between Christmas and New Year's Eve, I had a window of less than 24 hours to make a mad dash to photograph here, one of my favourite areas of Scotland. I needed a realistic ambition, so settled on Cùl Beag. Easy to access from the road, this 700m mountain provides a grandstand view of the region's iconic hills, especially the distinctively shaped Stac Pollaidh to the west.
Driving past Coigach in the evening, the thick cloud meant that any star photography I hoped to sneak in would have to be cancelled. I could see that the tops of the hills still had a nice covering of snow, and the weather forecast for the following morning looked promising; I was in good spirits.
After a terrible sleep in the car by the roadside I woke up at 6am to pack my bags and head up the track in the dark. I had somehow managed to completely misjudge the time it would take to get to the summit, and the weight of my rucksack. Carrying an extra camera, heavy tripod and some specialist time-lapse kit was slowing me down considerably. And, despite my best eff orts, a gorgeous dawn broke well before I was anywhere near the summit. Furious with myself for not starting earlier, I forced myself to stop for a few seconds to appreciate the view and catch my breath. Below me, a single line of footprints in fresh snow disappeared into the distance as crepuscular rays traced golden lines over the lower slopes.
On the summit, having set up my time-lapse gear to capture the clouds drifting over Cùl Mor and Suilven to the north, I was free to look round the summit of Cùl Beag to search for a decent view of Stac Pollaidh. I tried a few different locations and settled on a steep snow-covered gully. Stepping back and switching to a series of overlapping shots for a panorama looked like a promising composition. Stac Pollaidh was nicely positioned within the sweeping gully, with Coigach behind. And when the clouds parted to bathe the mountain in golden light, I'd found the image.
This is when I noticed I had committed that cardinal sin of winter photography: never walk over virgin snow that might be included in the frame. My footprints were all over the rocks to the left of the scene. Despite this, I chose a series of nine overlapping vertical images I hoped would capture the entire panorama.
The breeze was fairly fresh so I used a shutter speed of 1/100th of a second and an infrared remote while shielding the camera with my body to eliminate camera shake. In post-processing I used Lightroom's lens correction, which helps enormously when images are combined for panoramas. I decided against cropping out the footprints, as it would mean losing Coigach's summits. I don't like cloning, so ultimately I included the footprints as a reminder to myself to tread more carefully on my next trip.
14 miles from Ullapool
70 miles from Inverness
Access Rating ★★★★★
How to get there From Inverness, take the A835 north for 66 miles until you reach the junction with the unnamed road at Drumrunie. Continue west along this road, following the signpost for Achiltibuie for four miles, and park in the small lay-by on the right-hand side, near the patch of woodland. Walk back (east ) along the road for 500m and take the footpath up the hill. Follow the footpath for almost a kilometre and take the indistinct path that branches off to the right before the lochan. From here, it is a steep walk straight up the hill to the shoulder of Cioch a Chull Bhig, followed by a short but steep sect ion leading directly to the summit of Cùl Beag. What to shoot The surrounding mountains and lochs below.
Best time of day Mornings and evenings.
Nearest food/drink The Ceilidh Place, 14 West Argyle Street, Ullapool, IV26 2TY, 01854 612103, theceilidhplace.com.
Nearest accommodation Suilven B&B, Rhu, near Ullapool, IV26 2TJ, 01854 612955, bvegb.co.uk.
Other times of year Late winter and early spring for lots of snow.
Ordnance Survey map LR 15
Nearby locations Stac Pollaidh (4 miles); Cùl Mor (7 miles).
2 Corran Narrows - Highland
Driving along the shores of Loch Linnhe, Paul Holloway sees the potential for a powerful winter shot when a wall of sea mist rolls in, and he works quickly to find a suitable viewpoint
Canon EOS 5D MkII with 70-200mm f/4 lens at 70mm, ISO 100, 1/15sec at f/14, 2-st op Lee ND grad
Located nine miles south of Fort William, Corran Narrows is the narrowest point of Loch Linnhe and has been used as a ferry route for centuries. It was once part of an old drove road that provided a shorter route for the transportation of cattle from the remote areas of Morven and Ardnamurchan to the markets of central Scotland.
I have bypassed Corran Narrows and the ferry many times when travelling to and from the north Highlands, and must admit that I had never thought about photographing here -- ferries aren't my usual choice for foreground interest! That changed one December afternoon, however, when I was returning home after a photo trip in Assynt. Passing through Fort William, I could see a wall of sea mist rolling towards Loch Linnhe.
As I drove south, the mist occasionally thinned, allowing shafts of late afternoon sunshine through. It was a magical show of light and mist over the loch, and I racked my brains trying to think of possible viewpoints. Then I saw the sign to the Corran ferry, and knew this would make a great subject in these conditions. Getting out of the car was like walking into a freezer; an icy wind off the sea added to the chill factor. On went my down jacket, hat and gloves.
Making my way down to the ferry slipway, I took in the scene: the ferry at Ardgour on the far shore, the loch surface turbulent as the tide surged through the Corran Narrows, mist coming and going. Behind Ardgour, the snow-covered mountain of Sgurrnah-Eahchainne looked splendid.
I decided to exclude the foreground shoreline and concentrate on the ferry in the choppy water, set against the mountain backdrop. This was a job for my telephoto zoom. Working handheld, with image stabilisation switched on, I took several images at different focal lengths as the ferry left Ardgour. Before long, the ferry pulled in to the shore at Nether Lochaber and the light began to fade. Happy, I made my way back to the welcome warmth of the car.
9 miles from Fort William
38 miles from Tyndrum
Access Rating ★☆☆☆☆
How to get there From Tyndrum, follow the A82 north, passing through Glencoe. Two miles beyond Onich, turn left to reach the Corran ferry.
What to shoot Views across the Corran Narrows and towards Ardgour and Corran Lighthouse.
Best time of day Late aft ernoon, as the sun sets.
Nearest food/drink Craft s & Things, Glencoe, 01855 811325, craft sandthings.co.uk.
Nearest accommodation The Corran Inn, Onich, Fort William, PH33 6SE, 01855 821235.
Other times of year All year round.
Ordnance Survey map LR 41
Nearby locations Loch Leven (6 miles); Ben Nevis (10 miles).
3. Coire an t-Sneachda, Highland
Coire an t-Sneachda is a corrie scooped out of the Cairngorm mountain range by glacial action. Forming part of the northern corries, its many crags are popular with climbers, especially in winter, although there is a very steep summer path for walkers. It's a great mountain location that can be accessed without too much eff ort, for when the summits are out of reach.
11 miles from Aviemore
43 miles from Inverness
ACCESS RATING ★★☆☆☆
How to get there From Perth, take the A9 north to Aviemore. At the first roundabout, take the right turn to Cairngorm to the end of the road and the ski centre car park.
What to shoot Tumbling burns, craggy cliff s, snow and ice, and colourful climbers. There are lots of large granite boulders for foreground interest.
Best time of day Late afternoon if there is some sunshine or any time if it's cloudy.
Nearest food/drink Cairn Gorm Mountain, Cairn Gorm Ski Area, Aviemore, PH22 1RB, 01479 861261, cairngormmountain.org.
Nearest accommodation Hilton Coylumbridge Hotel, Coylumbridge, Aviemore, PH22 1QN, 01479 810661, hiltonaviemore.com. For other options, go to visitcairngorms.com.
Other times of year Visit year-round to see the changing character of the mountain. In February and March there is often lots of snow. Several webcams are set up around the area; see up-to-date images at visitcairngorms.com.
Ordnance Survey map LR 36
Nearby locations Ryvoan Pass (3 miles); Glen Feshie (14 miles).
4. Gummer's How, Cumbria
This fantastic location offers commanding views for little eff ort. To the north and west are the majestic Lakeland fells, to the east lie the rounded flanks of the Howgill Fells, and Morecambe Bay stretches out to the south. Its steep western edge gives a bird's-eye perspective of the pleasure cruisers and sailing boats winding their way across Windermere.
5 miles from Windermere
83 miles from Manchester
ACCESS RATING ★★★☆☆
How to get there From Windermere town, take the A5074 to Bowness, and then the A592 towards Newby Bridge for approximately six and a half miles. Pass Fell Foot Park (National Trust ) on the right, then take the minor road on the left (signed Gummer's How). Climb steeply (three-quarters of a mile) to the Forestry Commission car park on the right. Follow the signed path to Gummer's How summit (one mile).
What to shoot Lakeland fells and the Leven estuary with rocky foreground interest . Watch for patterns created by the wash of pleasure craft on Windermere.
Best time of day Temperature inversions at this time of year can offer stunning images if the summit is above the fog.
Nearest food/drink The Mason Arms, Strawberry Bank, Cartmel Fell, LA11 6NW, 01539 568486, masonsarmsst rawberrybank.co.uk/masons.
Nearest accommodation The Newby Bridge Hotel, Newby Bridge, LA12 8NA, 01539 531222, newbybridgehotel.co.uk.
Other times of year Summer evenings for sunsets over the Consiton Fells.
Ordnance Survey map OL 7
Nearby locations Finst hwaite Heights and High Dam (4 miles); Rusland Valley (6 miles).
5. Porthleven, Cornwall
Porthleven is a picturesque Cornish coastal town and fishing port that is often ravaged by coastal gales. Its most recognisable feature is the clock tower on the Bickford-Smith Institute building next to the pier. It makes a great photographic subject when viewed from the north side of the harbour entrance, especially when the sea is rough.
3 miles from Helst on
19 miles from Truro
ACCESS RATING ★☆☆☆☆
How to get there From Truro, follow the A39 towards Falmouth for eight miles, to join the A394 at the Treliever double roundabout. Follow this towards Helst on and around the town to reach a double mini roundabout after nine miles. Take the B3304 to Porthleven (2.5 miles), where there is a large pay and display car park on the right, near the supermarket and off-licence. From here it's only a short walk down the right-hand side of the harbour, to reach the best viewpoints for the clock tower.
What to shoot The clock tower, the picturesque harbour and pier.
Best time of day Sunrise or late afternoon for sunlight on the clock tower.
Nearest food/drink The Ship Inn, Mount Pleasant Road, Porthleven, TR13 9JS, 01326 564204, theshipinncornwall.co.uk.
Nearest accommodation Harbour Inn, Commercial Road, Porthleven, TR13 9JB, 01326 573876, harbourinnporthleven.co.uk.
Other times of year Any time of year.
Ordnance Survey map LR 203
Nearby locations Loe Pool (2 miles); Wheal Prosper (3 miles).
6. Latrigg, Cumbria
Latrigg is one of the easiest Lake District fells to climb, especially if you use the Skiddaw car park. After a short climb, you get your breath back only for it to be taken away again by the view over Keswick, Derwent Water and the surrounding areas.
3 miles from Keswick
39 miles from Carlisle
ACCESS RATING ★★☆☆☆
How to get there Exit Keswick towards the A66. Take the second exit on the roundabout, followed by an immediate right turn from the A591. Follow this for almost a mile, before taking a hairpin right turn. Follow this to the car park. If you look towards Latrigg, you'll see the path snaking off to the right; it's a short walk to the top.
What to shoot Views of Keswick and Derwent Water. The surrounding countryside and fells.
Best time of day Sunrise: when the sun climbs high enough you will get light on the fells and Derwent Water. Inversions are not uncommon and can make for dramatic images.
Nearest food/drink The Filling Station Café, Crosthwaite Road, Keswick, CA12 5PR, 01768 772103, fillingstationcafe.co.uk.
Nearest accommodation The Royal Oak, Main Street, Keswick, CA12 5HZ, 01768 774584, royaloakkeswick.co.uk.
Other times of year Spring and autumn give the best chances of photographing cloud inversions.
Ordnance Survey map OL 4
Nearby locations Cast leriggst one circle (4 miles); Ashness jetty (5 miles).
7. Hengist bury Head, Dorset
At the tip of Hengistbury Head is a 1930s coastal defence that stretches far out into the sea, providing an excellent lead-in line to seascapes. The headland itself provides excellent photographic opportunities, including the famous beach huts. As a local nature reserve, the location has an abundance of wildlife.
2 miles from Christ church
5.5 miles from Bournemouth
ACCESS RATING ★★★☆☆
How to get there From Christ church, take the B3059 towards Bournemouth, turning off at Broadway. Follow the road to the main car park (if the car park is closed, park on Rolls Drive). Once parked, you can walk along the beach or follow the slightly longer but easier surfaced path across Hengist bury Head.
What to shoot The ‘Long Groyne', general seascapes, sand dunes, wildlife and the beach huts.
Best time of day Sunrise and sunset between October and March.
Nearest food/drink Hiker Café, Broadway, Bournemouth, BH6 4EN, 01202 428552, hikercafe.co.uk (next to the main car park).
Nearest accommodation Bed & Breakfast by the Beach, Burtley Manor, 7 Burtley Road, Southbourne, BH6 4AP, bedandbreakfastbythebeach.co.uk.
Other times of year Summer sunrise is also good towards Mudeford Quay. Ordnance Survey map OL 22
Nearby locations Boscombe Pier (3 miles); the New Forest (7 miles).
8. Loch Lurgainn, Highland
Loch Lurgainn lies in the heart of the Assynt mountains to the north of Ullapool. The viewpoints here to the surrounding hills are superb. The heathery slopes, large red sandstone boulders and windswept trees offer great foreground possibilities.
12 miles from Ullapool
70 miles from Inverness
ACCESS RATING ★★☆☆☆
How to get there From Ullapool, take the A835 northwards. Aft er 10 miles, take the Achiltibuie road on the left . After about two miles you'll reach Loch Lurgainn. There are several possible parking places as you make your way along and above the loch.
What to shoot Brilliant views to Stac Pollaidh from the east ern half of the loch, and looking back to Cùl Beag from the west ern half of the loch.
Best time of day The golden hour around sunset and sunrise. The light can be great at any time of day, though, particularly on showery days.
Nearest food/drink The Gallery Café, West Argyll Street, Ullapool, 01854 613769. The café has a great select ion of photographs of the local area.
Nearest accommodation Ferry Boat Inn, West Shore Street, Ullapool, 01854 612366.
Other times of year Autumn is good here; the colourful golden grasses and the position of the sun at sunrise and sunset suit the location well.
Ordnance Survey map LR 19
Nearby locations Stac Pollaidh (2 miles); Garvie Bay (4 miles).
9. River Brathay, Cumbria
The river Brathay flows out of Langdale into the centre of the Lake District and feeds the tarn of Elter Water. On early winter mornings it can get some fantastic light and mist, but whatever the weather it's a stunning place to photograph. The fells reflect in the water and a thick frost can help make everything look beautiful.
3 miles from Ambleside
37 miles from Lancaster
ACCESS RATING ★☆☆☆☆
How to get there From Ambleside, take the A593 towards Skelwith Bridge. Take the right turn just before the bridge and follow the road for a short distance. You will come to an old quarry, which is now a car park (please note that there is a charge to park here). Cross the road and take the small path through the trees until you come to the clearing, and you'll see the river in front of you.
What to shoot Mist y dawns and golden light. The river is lovely and Elter Water is a short walk away. The Langdales can also be photographed from here.
Best time of day Dawn/sunrise. A thick frost is a nice touch, but it is a beautiful location in any weather.
Nearest food/drink The Skelwith Bridge Hotel, Skelwith Bridge, Ambleside, LA22 9NJ, 01539 432115, skelwithbridgehotel.co.uk.
Nearest accommodation The Skelwith Bridge Hotel -- as above.
Other times of year October and November are excellent times to visit for photographing autumn colours.
Ordnance Survey map OL 7
Nearby locations Rydal Water (5 miles); Blea Tarn (6 miles).
10. White Nancy, Cheshire
White Nancy is a folly built 200 years ago on the Saddle of Kerridge to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo. It sits on the Gritstone Trail and is a common walking route. Views from the top extend to the hills of Shropshire and north Wales, and to Manchester and the Pennines, but there are also great views of the nearby towns of Macclesfield and Bollington, and the village of Rainow.
4 miles from Macclesfield
22 miles from Manchester
ACCESS RATING ★★★☆☆
How to get there From the centre of Macclesfield, take the A523 towards Stockport and turn right at the roundabout (signed Bollington). Take the first right on to Clarke Lane and continue up the hill (Oak Lane) until you reach the Bull's Head, and then turn right on to Redway Lane and park. At the end of this lane, take the footpath on the left ; the steep climb (10 minutes) up to White Nancy is on the right after a cattle grid.
What to shoot There are opportunities to capture wide views of White Nancy in the landscape. The location works well both at sunrise and sunset, and it lends itself to a panoramic format. There are several creative options for photography, such as silhouetting White Nancy against the setting sun or even using the folly as foreground interest when shooting star trails.
Best time of day Any time of day because of the 360º view.
Nearest food/drink The Bull's Head, 2 Oak Lane, Bollington, SK10 5BD, 01625 575522.
Nearest accommodation The Church House Inn, Church Street, Bollington, SK10 5PY, 01625 574014, thechurchhouseinnbollington.co.uk.
Other times of year Year round.
Ordnance Survey map OL 24
Nearby locations Tegg's Nose Country Park and Macclesfield Forest (5 miles); Earl Sterndale for views of Chrome Hill and Parkhouse Hill (20 miles).
|These are based around an 'averagely fit' person. Below are loose guidelines to what the ratings mean (N.B. they are assigned by the author and not verified by OP. Walk distances are one-way only):
★☆☆☆☆ 1/5 Easy access -- you can pretty much get straight out of your car and quickly be at the viewpoint via good quality paths.
★★☆☆☆ 2/5 Some gentle walking -- generally less than a half mile -- is involved, which may be on mixed quality paths.
★★★☆☆ 3/5 A walk of up to about two miles, over quite easy terrain.
★★★★☆ 4/5 Medium length hike -- up to about four miles over mixed terrain, possibly with some quite steep gradients.
★★★★★ 5/5 The most difficult access. Long hike over challenging terrain (e.g. mountains/summits/steep coast al terrain); or involves travelling over particularly extreme ground (e.g. scrambling on rocks/ exposed coast al paths or mountain ridges) over any distance.