Those who follow me on Twitter are no doubt sick of hearing about my trip to Scotland next week. If so, I'm sorry but I am understandably excited! I'm off on my own with the sole intention of visiting some awesome locations, getting some stunning light and putting my mind and body through a bit of adversity (what doesn't kill us, etc).
I've given it the rather serious tag of 'expedition'. I could call it a 'landscape rampage' as popularised by Pete Bridgwood and David Baker on their recent adventures. Or perhaps I could reference my favourite children's book Where the Wild Things Are and call it a 'rumpus' ('And now, let the wild landscape photography rumpus start!').
Whatever it's called, it's going to be awesome. Dedicating a week (and every hour of that week!) to my photography in such a fantastic part of the world leaves me feeling a little giddy to be honest, and very much needed it is too.
Originally I'd hoped to have 10 days for my expedition but that's now reduced to 7. 10 days sounds like a long time before you start to work on an itinerary. When I started planning my time away it was amazing how quickly the days were taken up and how little time I had in the many places I wanted to visit.
Now with only 7 days to play with, I had to start making some tough decisions. I know that I don't want to just race around from one location to the next. Increasingly I think that stronger photographs come from slower and more considered time in the landscape. It allows me to take the more obvious shots - which are almost certain to come when faced with overwhelming beauty - to allow me to start working on more personal images. Yet at the same time I want to experience more of the wilderness my homeland has to offer so I'm looking for a balance.
So I've decided I'll no longer visit Lewis and Harris, Skye's off the agenda as is Eigg. Torridon is only part of the plan as I pass through, as is Glen Coe and the bleakness of Rannoch Moor.
My focus for the trip now is very much on Assynt and Coigach and the at once strange and striking landscape it seems to offer - boggy low ground punctuated by little lochans, with grand and dominating mountains rising majestically from the murky depths. Here - where the Norse gods are reputed to have practiced mountain making - lie some of Scotland's most isolated and prominent peaks. Their mythical names match their mythical beginnings - Suilven, Canisp, Quinag, Stac Pollaidh, Cul Mor, Ben More Assynt.
Along the coast are reputed to be many of Scotland's most beautiful beaches. Picture postcard white sandy bays deceive us into thinking we're in some tropical paradise rather than a land blasted by freezing North Atlantic storms. The area is though something of a paradise for seascapers.
I make it sound like I've been there. I have but only in my head. In my head I have a place of remoteness, of majesty, of myth. No doubt the reality will be at once the same and quite different.
My plan now is pretty rough. I've only worked out how I get to and from the area (via a stopover at Glen Coe which is just over halfway for me). Once in the area I've got a list of ideas to draw on but I hope and expect to be overtaken by inspiration. As I say I don't want to be dashing about. I'm hoping to drink in the atmosphere (and the odd whisky :)) and enjoy a real sense of calm and tranquility that only seems to arrive when in the remote places of the world.
I hope to camp for the most part though the weather is looking a bit grim at times. I'm reserving the right to decamp to a local hostelry to enjoy a roaring fire, a wee dram and a warm bed should things get truly miserable. Otherwise I'm hoping to camp by a couple of beaches and maybe spend a night or two in the mountains. We shall see.
If I find myself sheltering from the weather in a pub somewhere I may write up a post or two and share some pictures of my travels. Otherwise I'm hoping to be too absorbed in the landscape to want to spend any time online. Hopefully I'll have some good stuff to share with you on my return though.