Isle of Skye - a guide to locations and viewpoints on this photographers paradise

15th July 2013

For landscape photographers a trip to the Isle of Skye is an absolute must and is a trip many photographers make each years. The 9 hour journey from Sheffield seems a little daunting but once you arrive on Skye over the new road bridge link at the Kyle of Lochalsh the long journey seems very worthwhile. The landscape of the Isle of Skye is incredible and has a huge range of different rock types and features, the sheer variety of terrain on offer makes planning a trip all that more difficult as there are so many places to go and see. The Isle of Skye has a series of popular locations which are visited by many photographers, although some may class these locations as tripod hole hunting there is a reason they are so popular as they are so spectacular and cry out to be photographed. I think you would need around a month on Skye to even visit some of the locations and enable you to explore some of the less photographed areas, however if you only have a couple of days there is plenty to get through! You need to priorities which parts of the island you most want to visit and the kind of landscapes you want to shoot (mountains, beaches, waterfalls etc). There are so many locations and viewpoints it can be a little daunting so I would suggest that you make a list of locations and stick to them if it is your first visit.

Landscape Photography locations on the Isle of Skye - Scotland


View Isle of Skye Photography Locations in a larger map

I have created a map with some of the best known viewpoints in this blog post and have also included some of other spots which would make great photographs to help with planning a trip and deciding which part of the Isle of Skye you want to base your photography trip on as covering the whole island can be quite tiring but it’s always best to know about locations in different parts of the island as there are occasions when you may be in storm on the south of the island but head up to the northern shores of Skye the weather may be completely different. If there are any spots you want to add to this map please get in touch. Many of these locations are the classic spots which have easy access so are perfect if you are planning a short photography trip to the Isle of Skye, if you are lucky and have more time available some of these sports can be classed as starting points for you to explore deeper into the island away from the roads where the landscape is beautifully unspoiled.

On my most recent photography trip to the Isle of Skye I visited for 3 days band stayed on the mainland near to the Eilean Donan Castle >. Skye is a lot bigger than I’m sure many people imagine and so the travelling time around locations can be up to 2 hours depending on the roads. The weather on Skye is notorious for being changeable, on our trip during September in the space of one day we had bright sunshine, rain, thunder, hail and snow. This does have it’s advantages and the changeable condition lead to some of the very best purest light you are likely to experience in the British Isle, the light on Skye and in the Highlands has a magical crispness feel that you simply don’t get south of the border.

The coastline around the Isle of Skye forms a series of rocky peninsulas and bays radiating from the centre mountain range of the Cuillin hills. The Cuillins comprise of two parts, the more rugged and dramatic Black Cuillin which includes twelve Munros and is known to offer so of the best and most extreme mountain terrain in Scotland. The Red Cuillin hills are made up of granite which is slightly softer and so the appearance of these mountains is more rounded with dramatic scree slopes. One day I would like to make the trek up to the famous viewpoint overlooking Loch Cruislick, until I do you can read about this trip on James Grant’s recent blog post James Grants recent blog post or a very similar write up Sgurr-na-Stri by Stewart Smith

The northern peninsula of Trotternish is underlain by basalt rock which leads to a really rich collection of unusual and spectacular rock features. The Old man of Storr is definitely worth a trip if you are on Skye, the walk up to the Old Man and Pinnacle rocks takes around an hour from the car park, through woods (although I’ve read recently that the forest in this area has been cleared). Loch Fada is passed on the road to Trotternish and is often photographed for its great views up to the famous Old Man of Storr.


One from a beautiful walk up to the Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye, the Old Man is the name of pinnacle on the right of the shot just behind the large rock know as the Needle these are around 50 metres tall


The Kilt Rock takes it’s name from the similarity to tartan patterns in the cliffs which are around in the 105 metres (344 ft) high. The waterfall sits right next to the car park allowing easy access in among the tourist buses that frequently stop for a look.


Kilt Rock Waterfall - Isle of Skye


The Quiraing on the side of Meall na Suiramach forms part of the Trotternish Ridge which is a spectacular area to photograph with plenty of opportunities with some classic viewpoints and others not so well photographed. The area has a main spine where the land drops off leaving a series of pinnacles and landslips with bare rock faces. This a location I would love to visit at sunrise to capture the early morning light on the ridge, until I do here is a link to a shot by Adam Burton Photography in some beautiful conditions really showing the beauty of the area.


Afternoon light catches the landscape at the world famous Quiraing ridge, this is a shot looking south towards Loch Leum na Luirginn and Loch Cleat


The Needle and Prison on the Quiraing Ridge - Isle of Skye


Sligachan sits on the main road from the mainland to the town of Portree. It is a great spot to stop for the views up the valley to the Cuillin Hills or to make a base for some of the best walks on the island. On the last day of my trip to the on the Isle of Skye I was glad when the weather finally turned. The Allt Dearg Mòr river cascades and flows down in front of the impressive backdrop of the Cuillin Mountain range on the Isle of Skye. I waited next to the river with the local midges for around an hour before the sun finally made its entrance and flooded the scene with golden afternoon light, the brief break in the clouds over to the right allowed the sun to break through and really bring the scene to life. The strong sunlight lasted only a few minutes before disappearing once again behind the bank of cloud not to be seen again for the rest of the evening.


Allt Dearg Mòr waterfall - Sligachan


The rivers around Sligachan offer plenty of opportunities and viewpoints come and go as the river changes water level, on my visit the water levels were quite low so I was able to get out into the river in my wellies a little more than usual to get a better viewpoint.


Sgurr Mhairi in front of the River Sligachan


Loch nan Eilean is right next door to Sligachan so can be combined, this small loch has a beautiful setting with very easy access with great views back towards the Cuillin Hills and further around towards Marsco. The Loch is relatively small but offers amazing views either from the viewpoint at the end of the loch when I chose to wait but also half way down where the land opens up a little more to the mountains.


Loch nan Eilean with the Cuillin Mountains and Marsco in the distance


A trip to the Isle of Skye is a real must for any landscape photographer or mountain walker, the long journey is rewarded with a landscape with a variety unlike any other in the UK.

You can view more of my photographs from the Isle of Skye and around the Scottish Highlands in my Scotland photography gallery >



About Nick
Nick Cockman is a digital photographer from Sheffield specialising in Landscape and Seascape photography.

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Comments

Photo comment By gordon: Lovely photos of Skye. I love shooting there, and your work is superb. I wish I was back on the island!
Photo comment By Peter O'Reilly: Travelling to Skye tomorrow for a week's stay - hope the weather isn't too unkind!
Photo comment By Dirk Hoffmann: Hi, this a geat guide. I just can't wait to be at the Isle of Skye at teh end of may this year and see, if I can shoot some the locations that you mentioned. Regards Dirk
Photo comment By Michael Colman: Thanks for the guide, I am visiting Skye next week and your guide has been very helpful
Photo comment By colin allport: thanks for this guide really helpful as I am going to skye on the 10th November for 4 days many thanks
Photo comment By Peter Hastings: Another fine viewpoint is at the crest of the road running from Broadford to Loch Eishort - north views up the Sound of Raasay, east to Knoydart and south to Rum.
Photo comment By malcolm reah: great guide nick I am very new to the world of photography just having had a camera since xmas, but I am very much into landscape shooting, I am heading to skye in September and look forward to using this guide

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