Stepping into history

Another 7.15 departure. This is civilised sunrise photography.

We revisited the second site we went to on the first day – it was too windy to go on the beach so some perspective seemed like a good idea. The sea was wild and the waves were powerful and certainly the biggest we’ve seen so far.

The group dispersed and then re-grouped as the sun hit the waves. It was mesmerising.

The incessant wind is tiring. Keeping the camera still and composing your image whilst not being blow away demands concentration. It takes a lot out of you, and so back at the hotel, Andy went for the full Scottish vegetarian breakfast. I had gallons of tea.

After breakfast, it was time to hit the road again. We were going to the Isle of Lewis for the day. Lewis is the northern part of Lewis and Harris, the largest island of the Western Isles or Outer Hebrides. People talk about Harris or Lewis, but it’s all the same.

And yet, the scenery is immediately different. We crossed a pass through a mountain range.

The scenery is mostly meadows, peat bogs, lochs. The machair at first looking bleak but home to many wild flowers, heather and caterpillars.

Our first stop was at Mangersta – a large stack formation. The sea was lashing. The wind was… windy! We were warned off the edge of the cliff – good advice generally, but with the wind being what it was, this was definitely advice to follow. Wild.

Which brought us back to a discussion we’ve had on and off all week. How hardy you have to be to live here. This is the very beginning of winter. It’s only going to get bleaker from now on.

We stopped at a community owned cafĂ© in Uig for a hot drink and cake (lime and coconut). Lewis is internationally famous for the Lewis chessmen discovered nearby in 1831. These date back to the twelve century, and – little know fact – they are also known as the Uig chessmen.

We had our pack lunch in a car park near our next photo shoot – Traigh Na Beirghe, a Caribbean-white sand beach with turquoise water. And then add wind, showers, overcast weather.

After an hour, it was time to move on again. Out of the car window, I spotted one of Lewis’s 2000-year-old brochs (Iron Age roundhouses).

We raced against the clock to get to our last stop for the day – the Callanish Stones. The standing stones are arranged in a cruciform pattern with a central stone circle. It is thought that they were used for ritual activity during the Bronze Age (late Neolithic era).

Andy let his creative side get the better of him and some of his photographs were simply out there. To be fair, this is not your traditional landscape photographic workshop. We are constantly encouraged to be creative, and to spend time with such a bunch of creative people is rewarding and exhilarating.

The long drive back to the hotel was spent in gentle banter (someone told me I had ruined their life and they wished they’d never met me! To put this into context, I must say that I had merely answered his question about what it’s like to travel to Antarctica).

Another full on day. Feeling slightly weary, we sat down for dinner and chatted about photography, and the trip so far. We’re all loving it!

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