The Waiting Is Over. Adventure Starts Now.
You arrive at the railway station in Mallaig having already had a great flavour of the highlands, the scenery having illuminated the journey by both road or rail.
You are met by the Photo Journey Team. You meet fellow guests too. There is a buzz of excitement and perhaps even a healthy hint of nervous anticipation.
We lose no time in starting the adventure. You cruise in the beautiful, historic ship, 'Western Isles', to our wonderfully remote base location. The experience has begun. Let's look at what's in store:
Note: our itinerary has built-in flexibility.
This is because there are some elements that demand dynamic decision making.
We draw on our knowledge as well as that of local partners to build your experience around the conditions: the sea, the mountains, the weather.
This approach ensures we give you the best experience and keep you safe.
We aim for five boat trips; two big mountain days for those who want that; and two fabulous coastal days for those looking for a more gentle week. We will deliver this in all but exceptional conditions.
A two way choice | Mountains, Coast and Isles - or Hills, Coast and Isles
When you sign up for the Photo Journey Knoydart experience we will ask you to specify 'Mountains, Coast and Isles' or 'Hills, Coast and Isles'.
So what's the difference? ...
The programmes are fundamentally different on just two of our seven days together.
'Mountains, Coast and Isles' gives you the opportunity to be professionally guided on some of Scotland's highest mountains, known as Munros. Scroll on down for more detail on a few of these.
This option is for you if you are ready for the challenge of climbing and descending more than 1000m in a day, if you are confident walking on rough ground and if an 8-10 hour 'mountain day' sounds like fun.
The photographic opportunities that come with getting high are fantastic but it requires some effort getting there!
'Hills, Coasts and Isles' is less physically demanding. You can still climb to summits and take spectacular photographs. The difference is that these high points range between 200m and 500m above sea level. The distances are shorter and the time spent walking, less.
We should stress that there is no obligation to climb anything at all! If you are content enjoying boat trips, amazing wildlife, roaming the seashore and seeing the mountains from below, let us know and we'll make it happen.
A Typical Day | Uniquely Delivered
Imagine starting the day with a fine breakfast that you savour whilst looking out on the sea and mountains. There is a buzz of excitement about what lies ahead ...
You are transported by boat to carefully selected spots of outstanding beauty. You are among nature and good people. Whilst there are experts and leaders on hand, every Photo Journey guest has a voice and a value. We learn from each other, in photography and so much more.
Perhaps you are dropped off by boat at a white sandy beach like Sandaig Bay and enjoy a slow paced day and a gentle photo-walk, guided by Johnny, along the coast to Inverie where there’s time to stop and wet the whistle at mainland Britain’s most remote pub.
Or perhaps you’ll get dropped off somewhere even more remote with Mark and spend the day chasing magic in the mountains, climbing into a different world, one of spectacular light, distant vistas or swirling cloud, or both.
Perhaps you will stand exhilarated on a summit, feeling the warm glow not only of personal satisfaction but of kinship with those around you, those who’ve encouraged you and those you’ve encouraged.
Perhaps you’ll descend back to sea level on tired legs, feeling like something changed and you are a subtly yet significantly different person to the one who left the cabin that very morning.
These opportunities for personal development are as integral to Photo Journey as helping you develop your craft as a photographer.
In either case, you’ll find your way back to the seashore where you’ll be collected by boat and returned to basecamp.
Here you are offered more good food and drink and the opportunity to share stories and images from the day.
Perhaps you want to take advantage of the experts around you for some coaching in post- processing and editing your images.
Perhaps you are particularly interested in having your images expertly critiqued.
Perhaps you feel confident enough to present and share your images among your fellow Photo Journey guests and friends.
Boat Trips | Knoydart Peninsula and Small Isles
Boat trips are never just boat trips. We use the boats to facilitate adventures and experiences both coastal and mountain ...
Boat trips fall into two types: open sea and coastal.
Our open sea vessel, Larven, will take us to the Small Isles. It is a large, comfortable craft with capacity for our full group to be inside if need be. Having boarded from ‘basecamp’ it will take us out of Inverie Bay and down the coast, passing Rùm and Eigg, before reaching the most remote of the Small Isles, Canna. Here we will disembark, explore and photograph, amongst other things, resident puffins and towering sea stacks.
If the tides and sea conditions allow, we will cross to the Arisaig skerries and witness a rare landscape of myriad small, sandy beaches exposed only at low tide, before cruising back up the coast.
The coastal trips will involve a smaller, faster craft known as a RHIB (Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boat).
These nimble craft allow us great flexibility to quickly access almost any point along this remote coastline.
Being offset from the shore gives a different perspective on the landscape, a new set of photographic opportunities, as well as the chance to see marine wildlife, most commonly seals and dolphins and occasionally even basking shark, minke whales and orcas.
Birdlife is also spectacular and includes the successfully reintroduced (though still rare and endangered) white tailed sea eagles.
Mountain Days | Sgurr na Ciche
Rising directly from the sea to a soaring summit of 1040m, Sgurr ne Ciche is the highest peak in Knoydart ...
We approach from the sea, passing through the narrow Kyles of Knoydart, our RHIB making easy work of what would have been hours of walking.
We are dropped off at the eastern extremity of Loch Nevis and after a steep and sustained 350m ascent, gain the ridge.
We travel North East along the ridge, steadily gaining height until the 800m contour, at which point the angle steepens and we ultimately face an exciting scramble up a field of giant scree in order to reach the distinctive conical summit.
Here, if the weather is clear, we will be rewarded by the big reveal, gaining a 360 degree view that sees far inland, to Loch Cuaich below us and beyond to the great ridgelines of Shiel and Kintail.
From here we’ll drop into the saddle and either climb the sister peak, Garbh Chioch Mhor, or begin our descent, via a different route. We’ll pass the clear waters of Lochan a Mhaim and follow the Finiskaig River on its short, scenic journey to the sea.
We’ll stop by the seashore bothy, Sourlies, before returning by boat to base camp.
Mountain Days | Ladhar Bheinn
Ladhar Bheinn utterly dominates the Northern part of the Knoydart peninsula ...
Most often climbed from the tame, Inverie side, it is the brooding malevolence of the remote, unvisited, northern approaches where the true adventures lie. Naturally it is here we invest!
The adventure begins before we even set foot on the peninsula, as we start with a spectacular hour of circumnavigation, by RHIB, of the whole peninsula, from Loch Nevis to Loch Hourn. This one is not for the faint hearted or those averse to a bit of salty sea spray!
From our drop off we gain 1000m over the space of just three kilometres. This culminates in an exciting rocky scramble along the magnificent Druim a Choire Odhar ridge – as fine a route to a summit as ever was!
Clear skies allow amazing landscape photography opportunities. The views across the sea to Skye and the distinctive, and perhaps even snow covered, Cuillin Ridge are particularly impressive.
From the summit ridge we descend a far easier route to the Barrisdale saddle and then down the main trail to Inverie where we may have time for a cheeky pint at the Old Forge before collection by boat and a return to base camp where no doubt tall tells will be spun!
"The Hills, the hills!" | Something for Everyone
It is important to come back to inclusivity - a principle that sits at the heart of Photo Journey.
We've chosen a location and a team that allows a wide range of people to achieve a wide range of goals.
There's more to this than climbing the highest peak or taking the 'best' photo ... (this photo is taken from just above 'basecamp' - not a difficult peak!)
... our base at Ardintigh is a beautiful place to simply 'be'.
So whilst we are excited to facilitate epic adventures, the truth is that you could as happily spend a day pottering about, exploring the environs, listening to the lapping of the loch on the pebble shore or having a wander into the terrain of cnoc and lochan (hill and lake) that rises directly behind our cabins and that itself provides a wealth of photographic and explorative possibilities.
Our itineraries are always flexible. This is part and parcel of operating in the wild natural environments to which we gravitate.
Each day we make a dynamic consideration of weather conditions, conditions underfoot and sea state.
We also consider the needs of you, our guest, and whilst our aim is to take care of you, it is certainly not to stifle or molly coddle.
So, within the bounds of our duty of care, we give you flexibility to be independent.
We also build as much choice into our programmes as possible so that we can temper each day according to not only the elements but the human factors too.
To give an example, it is just possible that one of the mountain days may be one of the most epic days, but and also a very tiring one. Others may have experienced it differently and still want more the next day; whereas you may want to have a chill day, rest up, process images etc. We design our programmes to facilitate this kind of dynamism. Ultimately, it is about you!
Coastal Hikes and Photo Bimbles! | A Gentler Way
Take the opportunity to Photo Bimble!
It may change your life ...
Just as physical challenge has its place, so too does taking it easy. Cue the Photo Bimble.
How much of your life do you spend clock watching and rushing about?
Is it so normal that you don't even realise you are doing it?
What we propose is the antithesis of the pressure to push ourselves, the pressure to do things quickly.
A bimble is by its very nature slow and untaxing. It encourages you, nay, forces you, to simply slow down.
And what happens when you slow down?
You relax. You let go of some tension. Perhaps, imperceptibly, your heart rate slows.
In brief, you enter a prime state for your mind and body to do some repairs and a great space for opening your mind, becoming more observant of the world around you, of the wonders of nature that exist everywhere, which we see but rarely notice.
This also correlates with a prime space for photography, the art, one might say, of seeing differently and capturing something of that in a format - the image - which conveys it to others.
Opportunities for coastal hikes and bimbles abound. To give an example, we are dropped off by boat and spend the day at Sandaig Bay.
Within a small area the Sandaig Burn spills over waterfalls before flowing down the white sand beach to the clear, blue waters of the bay.
A short walk takes us out the point, from which we can look back on the bay and also across the sea to Skye and the Cuillin ridges.
A coastal hike can take you around the Rubha Raonuill headland, past the statue of the madonna, more waterfalls and as far as Inverie village.
Either way, guides will be on hand to shape both your photography and your understanding and appreciation of the landscape itself.
This is but one example of the myriad programmes available.