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Travel tips for Scotland

Travel tips for Scotland

In this article I would like to give some travel tips for Scotland, especially for landscape photographers. Instead of writing a travelogue that contains more or less a similar schedule every day, I think you can start with some more advice and tips.

Which season is recommended?

There is actually no best season for landscape photography in Scotland. Each season has its own advantages.

Spring:

Often snow is still lying on the mountains in April, which can look very good on a photo. Spring is a good season for people who like it a bit quieter, because there are not yet so many tourists. The mountains and hills are beginning to turn green.
It tends to rain less in many areas and also on the Isle of Skye. Furthermore, there are no midges yet. Learn more about the Highland Midges below.
Those who want to combine photography with hiking are in good hands at this time.

Summer:

Summer is the main tourist season in Scotland. Especially in the area around Fort William and the Isle of Skye it can get very crowded! Temperatures are around 20°C during the day and about 10°C at night. It is also the time of the midges. You'll have to adjust to the little bloodsuckers.
The days are very long. The sunrise starts very early (4:30 o' clock!) and it can be quite tedious to get up so early in order to be at the location in time.
In late summer, purple heather blooms on the meadows and moors. This looks simply phenomenal and can be put in the limelight on photos.

Autumn:

Autumn is particularly suitable for landscape photography. The green of the trees slowly gives way to the colourful colours of autumn. From mid-October onwards, there are no more interfering midges.

Moreover, there are by no means as many tourists as in the summer months. Besides, you don't have to get up so early for the blue hour in the morning and the sunrise. That can also be a relief. In late autumn, many places are already covered with snow. Ice structures on the banks of the Lochs and rivers can be built into the picture very well as foreground.

Winter:

When the banks of the Lochs and the brooks are frozen over, this has its own special charm. Especially the structures in the ice can then be used very well as foreground of the motif.

The weather is often rough and windy and it can take days to get good light at the right time of day.

Unfortunately, it happens more often when there is a lot of snow, that some roads are closed. And especially as a landscape photographer you often use seldom trafficked and narrow streets to get to the location.

Clothing, rain protection and shoes

Scotland has a lot of rain. It rains almost every day and that's normal there. If it's not raining, it's an exception! You have to be aware of that if you want to go there. Last time I was there, it was raining for two weeks. So rainwear is a must!

You need a good rain jacket and a pair of rain trousers that can hold the water for several hours. You can also put on your rain trousers over the normal hiking trousers if necessary. The "onion principle" has proven its worth.

I also recommend merino wool t-shirts. They're expensive, but you don't sweat in them. Moreover, they dry very quickly, there are no stains and they do not smell even after repeated wearing!

In addition, your clothes should have many pockets with zippers. There's always plenty to stow away when you're taking pictures outdoors.

You definitely need comfortable, ankle-high hiking boots!

Furthermore I strongly recommend so-called "Neos Overshoes". These are waterproof boots that you can put on over your hiking shoes. Rubber boots can also be used in case of need. The advantage of the Overshoes is, however, that you can easily pull them over the hiking boots. In addition, they are very flexible and can be folded into a small case. Nevertheless, they have a very stable sole.
When I was there, the ground was softened by the rain. There was a lot of mud on the hiking trails and on the meadows the water was partly 20 cm high. Without these overshoes I couldn't have reached more than half of the photospots!

Scotland and the Midges

The Scottish Midges are a blood-sucking insect species and about three millimeters in size. They can occur in large swarms during the summer months, especially in forest and moorland areas. The "peak season" of these little nuisances is from the beginning of June to mid-September. The female midges bite into the skin to absorb blood that they need for egg production.

What do the Midges like?

They prefer to have time when the light is weak. With cloudy skies and especially in the morning and evening hours during the golden and blue hour. Exactly at the time when you're out taking pictures. They mostly occur at temperatures from 12 °C to 22 °C and only when there is no wind!
Even light rain doesn't bother them.

What don't Midges like?

Midges don't like the wind. They have already disappeared after wind speeds of 6 km/h. Then they hide in the tall grass.
Midges don't like bright light. You won't find them at noon and in bright sunshine.

How to protect yourself?

First of all, it is important to wear long clothes. The midges are very small and can crawl in everywhere.
There are different means of creaming in against the midges. I recommend the one from 'Smidge that Midge'. That works very well and the little beasts leave you alone. You should put it on your hands and face. Do not put the product in your eyes or lips!
In addition, mosquito nets and hats are also available in all outdoor shops in Scotland and in most supermarkets. These are quite cheap and the best you can get against the midges. Just put on the hat and make the net over it. The net can also be tied with a tape so that the small midges do not crawl through the bottom. This will make you look like a beekeeper at work, but you will be very grateful if you have it! I had to deal with so many midges on three days (two mornings and one evening) that I could only stand it with the net, despite putting on the cream.

Scotland and the Outdoor Access Code

In Scotland, anyone is allowed to enter and walk on most private properties as long as you scrupulously abide by some rules that are actually self-evident.

Be respectful of the owners of the land and nature. For example, you should not sneak around the owner's house in the dark.

Garden gates and doors are closed after you've gone through. Avoid unnecessary noise. It is forbidden to pick or damage plants. It is forbidden to disturb or even hunt animals! No garbage may be thrown away! Anything you have with you, you take back.

Equipment tips for landscape photographers

I recommend the following things:

1. Clean microfibre cloths for lenses and filters. Fielmann's are the best. They are very large, made of the same fabric as "camera wipes" from other manufacturers, clean very well and are cheap. 1,50€ per cloth. It is best to buy 5 to 10 pieces. You can never have enough of it. Especially if you have to clean more often when it rains.

2. Headlamp with red light. For hiking and photography in the dark.

3. Several plastic bags to protect the camera from rain. Frozen bags are the best choice. Make a little hole in the bottom. That's where the tripod thread comes through. Now you can screw the tripod plate back to the camera. The camera comes naturally into the freezer bag. The buttons of the camera can also be operated through the bag.

4. Cleaning liquid for the filters and lenses. This is especially suitable for photography by the sea. During cleaning with the microfibre cloth, the salt water causes streaks and streaks on the filters. The filters can be easily cleaned again with a special cleaning liquid. There are finished cleaning agents from different manufacturers. First of all, this is far too expensive and secondly far too little.
I have had good experiences with a mixture of one part isopropanol and four parts distilled water. I got the idea from Raik Krotofil of raiklight. de. The stuff fills her in a small spray bottle and she can dose it wonderfully. Isopropanol is available at the pharmacy for a few euros. You just need a small amount. 100 millilitres is quite enough. You can use it to make half a liter of cleaning fluid. That's enough for years.
The cleaning liquid can be sprayed directly onto the filters. When cleaning the lenses, it is recommended not to spray directly on the lens, but on the microfibre cloth.

Closing statement

Scotland has a beautiful landscape and is an absolute highlight for any landscape photographer, provided the weather is suitable. There are large areas of forest, meadows and moorland that are not cultivated and look wild and pristine. In between there are always large lakes and lochs as well as small rivers and brooks that meander through the hilly landscape.
On the Isle of Skye there are cliffs, beaches and of course the sea in many places.

I hope I have been able to help you out a little bit with these tips and give you some insight into Scotland.

In any case, I will go there again, to photograph and of course to enjoy the nature.

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