JOIN NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC AUTHOR & TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHER CHRISTOPHER P. BAKER, PLUS TWO OF SCOTLAND’S LEADING PHOTO INSTRUCTOR/GUIDES, ON THIS EXCITING PHOTO TOUR & WORKSHOP OF THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS, THE ISLE OF SKYE, AND THE OUTER HEBRIDEAN ISLAND OF HARRIS & LEWIS

If a picture truly paints a thousand words, the landscapes of the Scottish Highlands would fill all 4,224 pages of Harry Potter (much of which was filmed here). Blessed with quite simply the most sensational landscapes in Britain, Scotland’s rugged northern Highlands lend themselves to phenomenal landscape photography… even under the darkest of brooding skies. In fact, Scotland’s famously fickle weather is a bonus: Within the space of one hour, it’s possible to shoot the same location under gorgeous blue skies, when roiled by bruising clouds, and gilded in shafts of golden sunlight. Plus, off the western coast is the Isle of Skye, considered among the most dramatically picturesque places in all Britain, with its breathtaking physical formations and elemental battered landscapes of epic grandeur.

Our itinerary spans the full range. Enchanting waterfalls… Huge soaring sea stacks… Surging peninsulas… Improbably white-sand beaches… Wind-ruffled lochans, and moors carpeted in thistles and heather… And hauntingly beautiful glacier-scoured mountains. Plus, this remote region is replete with wildlife.

We’ll visit in late October, when the autumn colors are at their most spectacular and the lingering sunrises and sunsets offer sensational "golden hour" light!

Nor will we forgo the human component: The living culture that defines this magnificent region… from weathered fishermen and the shepherds herding their flocks with sheepdogs, to the crofters of Harris & Lewis.

Oh, and this is a trip for gourmands! As I wrote in one of my magazine stories: “Scottish dining isn’t all haggis and porridge, I discover over a dinner of hand-dived west coast scallops, succulent lamb rump roast with turnips and kale, and a wickedly divine white chocolate semifreddo with Torridon strawberries and almonds.”

I feel a special connection to the Scottish Highlands (and not simply because my sister and cousin live there), ever since first motorcycling the North Coast 500 route on assignment for Robb Report. Please join me and experience the mystical appeal of this superbly photogenic and immensely soul-satisfying part of the world. Plus, you’ll get to meet my adorable sister! Oh… and my cousin, who guides at Urquhart Castle! - CHRISTOPHER P. BAKER

ITINERARY (subject to change, including due to rail & ferry timetables)

Day 1: Monday (October 23)
Participants arrive and settle into our hotel in Edinburgh. Meet with Christopher in the evening for orientation, then a welcome dinner.
Overnight: APEX WATERLOO PLACE (or equivalent), EDINBURGH

Day 2: Tuesday (October 24)
Depart Edinburgh this morning via exquisite Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park with a stop at the Falls of Dochart—our first chance to practice long-exposures to capture the cascades with milky soft effect. We continue via Glencoe, one of the most spectacular glens in Scotland and a setting for films from Harry Potter to the James Bond movie Skyfall. We’ll photograph at the iconic Buachaille Etive Mor waterfall, and perhaps The Three Sisters and Black Rock Cottage before arriving in Fort William.
Overnight: CLAN McDUFF (or equivalent), FORT WILLIAM

Day 3: Wednesday (October 25)
This morning we journey via the Glenfinnan Viaduct—a fantastic 21-arch curving bridge—in time to photograph the Jacobite steam train (the famous ‘Hogwarts Express’ of Harry Potter fame) puffing across the viaduct at approximately 11am. [NOTE: The Jacobite steam train stops operating in the late October, typically the last week; no guarantee can be made for 2023.] Arriving Mallaig midday, we then take the 1:30pm ferry to Armadale, on the Isle of Skye. Our first stop is the Torabhaig Distillery for a tour and tasting. We’ll then transfer to our hotel in Broadford and relax before heading to nearby Eilaen Donan Castle, perhaps the most photogenic (and most photographed) castle in Britain thanks to its enviable location on an isle in Loch Duich. We’ll linger as long as feasible to take advantage of changing moods during sunset and twilight. Who knows… we may even have a chance to photograph a bagpiper in kilt and traditional garb piping away from atop the castle!
Overnight: BROADFORD HOTEL (or equivalent), ISLE OF SKYE

Day 4: Thursday (October 26)
This morning we’ll be up early for sunrise before heading back to the hotel for breakfast. We’ll then explore the southern part of the Isle of Skye, with such locations as the Eilean Sionnach lighthouse, plus Loch Cil Chriosd and Elgol, a fishing hamlet with sensational ocean views towards the Black Cuillin Mountains. We’ll then head north to Uig for the next couple of nights, stopping enroute at Sligachan to photograph the famous old stone bridge and sensational cottage and mountain backdrop. 
Overnight: UIG HOTEL (or equivalent), ISLE OF SKYE

Day 5: Friday (October 27)
This morning starts with a dawn shoot at the world-famous Old Man of Storr. This will be a very early start, but will be more than worth the effort as dawn’s light illuminates this incredible volcanic formation and adjoining pinnacles. Arriving the foot of these massive basalt spires, we’ll hike for about one mile uphill to reach our favored viewpoint. Weather permitting, expect some of the most sensational images of the trip. [NOTE: Clients for whom the hike poses a physical challenge will be offered an alternative venue.] We’ll return to the hotel for breakfast before exploring the Isle of Skye further, including the lovely harbor town of Portree, with its pastel-painted harborfront row-houses, and Kilt Rock waterfall—a cascade tumbling over a cliff into the sea. Sunset will be shot from right behind our hotel, where there are amazing views over the bay, with a picturesque church on a hill.
Overnight: UIG HOTEL (or equivalent), ISLE OF SKYE

Day 6: Saturday (October 28)
We’ll start the day at one of the world’s most impressive landscapes—The Quiraing, where we will shoot the first light hitting the many hills and ridges. Fortunately, it’s just a few minutes drive from our hotel, where we’ll breakfast before check out to board our 9:40am ferry from Uig to the Outer Hebrides. Arriving Tarbert, on the Isle of Lewis, we’ll drive the short distance to the Northton salt marshes and Luskentyre—arguably the most beautiful beach in Britain, with sands like Valspar Perfection dissolving into a Caribbean teal-blue sea. Time permitting, for sunset we’ll shoot the Mangersta sea stacks before settling into our magnificent hotel.
Overnight: TRADITIONAL HUNTING LODGE, ISLE OF HARRIS & LEWIS

Day 7: Sunday (October 29)
An early start today for sunrise at the Callanish Standing Stones, one of the finest examples of Neolithic standing stones in Britain: This haunting complex perched on an elevated coastal promontory dates back 5,000 years and is a mini-Stonehenge without the crowds. We’ll then breakfast before heading south to tour the Isle of Harris. The roads passes many amazing views (including photogenic abandoned croft houses) so we’ll be stopping regularly to grab shots and react to the ever-changing Hebridean Light. We plan on ending our day with a sunset shoot at Small Beach, which in the right conditions is amazing for photos at dusk.
Overnight: TRADITIONAL HUNTING LODGE, ISLE OF HARRIS & LEWIS

Day 8: Monday (October 30)
Following breakfast, we’ll head to the north of Lewis and visit Duncalloway Broch before photographing at Gearrannan Blackhouse village, a photogenic conclave of traditional turf-roofed Hebridean houses set above a gorgeous white-sand beach. Harris tweed, the world’s most luxurious wool fabric, is exclusively hand-woven on this island and is still made inside crofters’ homes and small specialist studios. We’ll make the short drive from Gearrannan to the nearby hamlet of Shawboss to photograph a crofter at work on a traditional loom. We’ll end with a sunset shoot at Stack o’Phris (or Mangersta sea stacks), if the conditions are suitable.
Overnight: TRADITIONAL HUNTING LODGE, ISLE OF HARRIS & LEWIS

Day 9 Tuesday (October 31)
The morning will be at leisure to enjoy our lodge and its estate at leisure. After an early lunch, we’ll head to Stornoway to board our 2pm ferry to the lovely fishing village of Ullapool, overlooking Loch Broom. We’ll check into our hotel and freshen up before dinner at a nearby gourmet restaurant with Chris’s sister and brother-in-law, who live nearby.
Overnight: THE ROYAL HOTEL or HARBOUR HOUSE, ULLAPOOL

Day 10: Wednesday (November 01)
Our hotel overlooks the lovely and photogenic Ullapool harbor, with its colorful traditional fishing boats, many of which are beached at low tide. We’ll make the most of the early morning light to photograph the fishing boats and the fishermen tending their nets and crab baskets. We’ll also have a chance to relax beside Loch Broom, spending the afternoon at Chris’ sister’s waterfront cottage. There’s a strong chance we’ll see otter, seals and perhaps even porpoise!
Overnight: THE ROYAL HOTEL or HARBOUR HOUSE, ULLAPOOL

Days 11: Thursday (November 02)
Today we drive across the Scottish Highlands via Glen Glasgarnoch to Glen Affric—considered a pinnacle of the Caledonian fall colors and one of Scotland’s most iconic settings from the Glen Affric Viewpoint. We’ll then continue the short distance to Drumnadrochit and Urquhart Castle, on the banks of Loch Ness. Chris’ cousin Mark–a professional guide at Urquhart Castle–will give us a personal, privileged tour. We’ll linger around Loch Ness this afternoon to photograph Nessie!
Overnight: LOCH NESS LODGE, BALCHRAGGAN

Day 12: Friday (November 03)
Today we head via Inverness to Leaudlt Working Sheepdogs, at Aviemore–a chance to meet farmer Neil Ross to learn about, and photograph sheepdogs working flocks of sheep. Continue to Edinburgh, with time to relax or explore this historic city before a slide show of everyone’s favorite images followed by our farewell dinner.
Overnight: APEX WATERLOO PLACE, EDINBURGH

Day 13: Saturday (November 04)
Depart for home.

Trip Details
October 23-November 4, 2023
Trip cost: $TBD 
Limit: 10 participants
 
All participants are required to show proof of being fully vaccinated against Covid.
 

Highlights

  • Photograph stunning landscapes and seascapes, as well as Scottish farmers, fishers, and crofters.
  • Find a perfect spot to photograph the Jacobite Stream Train (aka Hogwart’s Express) thundering across the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct.
  • Explore the little-visited Outer Hebridean isle of Harris & Lewis to photograph the Callenish Stones, thatched crofter's village, and even a traditional Harris Tweed workshop.
  • Be accompanied throughout by two of Scotland's leading photographers and photo instructors

Tour Leader

You’ll get to photograph with acclaimed National Geographic photographer, author, and expedition leader Christopher P. Baker, the Lowell Thomas Award 2008 ‘Travel Journalist of the Year.’ Christopher’s images and self-illustrated articles about Scotland and other destinations worldwide have appeared in hundreds of magazines, from BBC, CNN and Newsweek to National GeographicNational Wildlife and Penthouse; as well as scores of calendars, brochures, coffee-table books and travel guidebooks. His work for National Geographic, not least, includes photographing the National Geographic Traveler Colombia and National Geographic Traveler Costa Rica guidebooks on assignment. Chris’ profession as a full-time travel journalist informs his work, which is also represented by Getty Images. His rich archive of images and travel experiences spans the world, from India, Sudan and Nepal to Morocco, Micronesia and the Marquesas Islands. Plus, Chris has led more than 100 tours and expeditions worldwide, including photo tours and workshops for Jim Cline Photo Tours, Lumaria Workshops, National Geographic Expeditions, Santa Fe Photo Workshops, and UnCruise Adventures, as well as his own deluxe stately homes and gardens tours to Britain.

Testimonials

Thanks for the master class in photography. I learned so very much from you, particularly about context, ambiance and milieu to create a riveting picture.
SARAH S., JIM CINE PHOTO TOURS, CUBA 2020

Chris, you are a one of a kind. Really enjoyed you as a photographer, a guide, and of course as a fabulous story teller. You have so much Cuba knowledge and I loved your positive energy
ASA M., JIM CLINE PHOTO TOURS, CUBA 2020

Chris was the perfect trip leader. His knowledge of the country and its history is vast and he enthusiastically wanted to share it with us along with his years of experience as a photographer… He’s talented, interesting, accessible, and fun to travel with. Plus, he really did seem to care about each of us — if we were okay, getting good images, too tired, too hot, etc. I would certainly travel with him again. He certainly kept up the high standards of a Jim Cline Photo Tour.”
JUDY B., JIM CLINE PHOTO TOURS, COLOMBIA 2018

Molly Danner [Program Director & Director, Photography Trip Talent, National Geographic] came back with a rave review of your performance on our Eastern Cuba trip, along with the recommendation that I consider featuring you as NG photographer on future private jet trips—which I most definitely will do!
FORD COCHRAN, DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMMING, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC EXPEDITIONS

Your Scottish photo instructors & driver/guides

For our 2023 departure, we’ll be accompanied throughout by two of Scotland’s most highly rated photographer/instructor/guides. Winner of the UK’s foremost ‘Photographer of the Year’ award, our lead guide is recognized as one of the UK’s top landscape photographers, and a regular contributor to leading photography and travel magazines. He works in partnership with three of Scotland’s other top-ranked photographers. All live in Scotland and know the best photo locations throughout the highlands and islands, as well as the best times of day to shoot them. We’ll also use two of his company’s customized 8-passenger vehicles, with five guests per vehicle and plenty of room for our gear.