Rab Ritchie is a photographer and designer from Stirling, Scotland and a prolific user of social media platform Instagram. As well as being an active user in his own right, Rab enjoys organising meet-ups for the Scottish Instagram community – or Instameets, as they are usually known – to some of the most photogenic places in Scotland.
Rab recently organised an Instameet on the Isle of Skye – #Skye16 – where he and a group of 16 other Instagrammers captured some of Scotland’s most dramatic scenery on camera. The group explored the island, taking in a mixture of some of Skye’s best lobed and lesser known sights, as Rab describes in his own words.
Day 1 – The Road to Skye
What do you get when you take cameras, a bunch of friends, and drop them in the Scottish Highlands fuelled by cakes and sweet bakery treats? The #Skye16 Instameet of course. Two days of photography one weekend in early May taking in four meeting points across the Isle of Skye.
My group’s journey to the Instameet started two days earlier with a 2:30am alarm clock on the Thursday morning. We were headed to catch the sunrise around Loch Lomond on our way up towards Skye from Glasgow. The three of us arrived at the bonnie banks as the sun tried to break through. It didn’t try hard enough however, so we kept going. We did have four hours of driving ahead mind you—we were keen to make up ground.
The journey up the A82 is nothing short of breath-taking. Once you pass the west side of Loch Lomond you wind your way up towards Glencoe. A worthy warm-up for what’s to come on Skye. Branching off to the A87 shortly after Fort William the landscapes kick it up a notch yet again. The roads feel smaller. Your eyes dart from side to side. Once the picturesque Eilean Donan Castle appeared in my windscreen I got the feeling that coffee was in sight. It was almost 9am, after all, and places were beginning to open.
Once we had checked into our apartment and stocked up on some treats from the bakery in the square at Portree, we made our way for a quick wander around the harbour. The other group we were meeting soon arrived and our trusty navigator-in-chief James scouted a cave location for us just to the north for us to check out.
The coastal location had dramatic cliffs and offered a view out for miles to the north. We found our cave too, hidden along a ridge. It was narrow and felt unexplored. It made me feel like a true explorer. Until we found a line of tea lights, that is. Unless they were placed there by a mythical cave creature I’m not so sure we were the first ones there.
We went in the cave whilst the weather was grey, but dry. As we exited we were faced with a downpour. Sodden, we headed back along the coastal cliffs and to the car. Ready for dinner.
Day 2 – Sligachan, Talisker Bay and Ardtreck Point
For day two we wanted to catch a sunrise. James and his toolkit hooked us up with a spot just outside Sligachan. As we wandered our way up following the course of the river we could see the sun break out across the valley, cascading light over Sligachan. It might not have felt great to have that early alarm clock but when you’re watching the sun come up like that you soon forget about those woes.
For breakfast we treated ourself to pancakes at Sligachan Hotel and set off towards Talisker Bay. We found a nice waterfall on the way there too. The clouds and rain we experienced the day before couldn’t seem further away. We were faced with blue skies and very little cloud. I even managed to get some sunburn. On Skye.
Talisker Bay is a large stretch of coast but the tide was quite far out. It exposed a rocky path out to a set of sea stacks which we could go right up to. It exposed a huge dramatic set of cliff faces right along the coast. Each set of cliffs had its very own waterfall. Ready for some more treats, we made our way back to the car. James had a sunset plan.
Skye has a few modern designed lighthouses. We picked Ardtreck Lighthouse for our sunset. We made our way down the path to our spot and watched the sun go down together by a camp fire. I forgot the marshmallows though.
Day 3 – Dunvegan Castle and Neist Point
Saturday was our time for a long lie-in. After a quick potter around Portree with cakes and coffee we went to Dunvegan for the first Instameet point. Fuelled this time by colossal cakes from Jann’s Cakes we checked out the castle with our Instagram buddies. It was good to see some old (and young and new) faces again. Inside Dunvegan Castle we took a boat ride to see some seals. The highlight of the trip for some—there were so many! The seals were quite cute too if you like big slug-like sea creatures with whiskers. I do.
Next on the list was Neist Point Lighthouse for sunset on the west coast of Skye. The sky had other plans though. It soaked us with rain. It was nice to go explore parts of Neist Point I hadn’t seen before though. It’s such an iconic location with the nature of the landscape leading up to the lighthouse itself. After a good soaking, we headed home for some rest before another early start.
Day 4 – The Old Man of Storr
No Skye trip would be complete without a visit to the Old Man. The Old Man of Storr is a rock formation that wouldn’t seem out of place on a Martian landscape, or a scene from an alien film. Being there early meant we had the location pretty much to ourselves. The only people we met were those brave enough to go even earlier for sunrise. They were on the way back down though. After a few hours we were ready for coffee, and I dare say another cake or two.
The next meeting point was back at Sligachan Bridge, so after a little lunch break in Portree harbour we all gathered at the Bridge and went for a walk by the water. One of the group, Calum, even went for a wild swim in the water! He lives on Skye. Must be something in the cakes up there—I don’t think I had enough of them to feel the effects.
Home time hit. The group went off on their separate ways. We had 17 people on Skye over the weekend—which was a great turnout given how far away it was for most. The draw of Skye is pretty hard to resist.
To see more photos taken at the #Skye16 Instameet, explore the hashtag on Instagram.