Eilean Donan Castle, Dornie, Scotland
When I first started work at BAe Systems Woodford in the late 80s, the world was a different place then to what it is now. Political correctness was a phrase that hadn’t been invented back then and being a male dominated industry most calendars in the offices were, how can I put it, not of the scenic variety! Don’t get me wrong, it was just the sign of the times and I bet half of you will remember the likes of Linda Lusardi, Sam Fox, Maria Whittaker and all the rest. The maintenance department were considered the connoisseurs of the “art form” for they had a hangar wall, and we’re talking a big wall here – full of pictures collected from specialist publications, but not those that you’d find on any page 3 newspaper.
As the years rolled over into the 90s, modern practices and protocols took over from our Neanderthal ways and such pictures disappeared to be replaced with calendars of planes supplied by the supply chain (what else did you expect in an aircraft factory). Occasionally, some would bring in other calendars, and this is where this little story really starts…
At the time I was working in the Industrial Engineering dept and we had, amongst many, a calendar of landscape images or well-known landmarks. The exact subject matter evades me but I distinctly remember February’s image of Eilean Donan Castle with the most fabulous storm clouds over the loch I’d ever seen. The castle was illuminated by a ray of sunlight piecing through the heavy clouds. It impressed me so much, I promised myself that one day I would go and visit and at the end of the year I pinched that picture and kept it for many years, but lost it in the house move when I got married some 21 years ago. I can still picture that image today.
All that was way before I took a keen interest in photography and so when the opportunity arose to visit Scotland and Skye, this was my personal pick of locations. I had it in my mind’s eye to recreate that image that the holiday centred around Eilean and hopefully moody conditions.
Forward a couple of decades, and we’re driving up from Glenfinnan via Fort William to Dornie. The rain hasn’t stopped since we left our accommodation back in Glencoe. In fact it’s getting heavier – a precursor to storm Callum as it turned out. The drive from Glenfinnan to Dornie was only supposed to take about two hours but it seemed like 20 in the eternal driving rain. We arrived at Eilean Castle just after 2pm to a car park full of tourists sat in their vehicles and coaches, not venturing outside to even look at the castle. We had several hours to kill before we could check-in to our B&B, so we opted for a tour of the castle and well worth the £7.50 entry fee it was too – the roaring log fires made leaving a drawn out affair. But the rain continued… beyond the time-wasting coffee break at the castle café, check-in at the B&B, the walk to the only open restaurant in Dornie on a Sunday evening, and the return. We got drenched every time we stepped outside and not a single photo was taken that afternoon or evening. No sunset, no night shots, no illuminated castle. A photography plan shot to pieces, but I dare say if you’d read this far you’ll agree, it’s the pitfall of every landscape photographer.
What made it worse is that we were the only people staying at the best located B&B in Dornie and had the choice of any room. Naturally we choose the room with the best view, but I couldn’t even open the window for a shot on account of the head-on driving rain. I would have soaked everything in the room in seconds!
But tomorrow is another day, and so an earlyish start afforded me a second chance. No stunning sunrise, no drama in the sky, but at least it wasn’t raining. Not what I hoped for but at least a 20 year promise finally crossed off the list and I’m happy with that.
Posted by Tagged: , Scotland , Eilean Donan Castle , castle , island castle , historic , Dornie , tidal island , three sea lochs , Loch Duich , Loch Long , Loch Alsh , sunrise , clouds , blue hour , morning , long exposure
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