333’s Evan Shuster has been traveling to some remote and off beat destinations in the last 3-4 years. He just recently returned from Scotland touring the highlands taking photos along the way. Read his story below and or SKIP DIRECTLY TO THE IMAGE GALLERY TO CHECK OUT HIS PHOTOS.
It’s about 8AM Edinburgh time and I have now been up for around 20 or so hours with only about 1 hour of sleep. As we drive down the main highway north towards the highlands I start to think about the true meaning of this escape I can call a vacation. Escape is such a poor word considering how much I love my job, and in fact I love it so much I don’t even call it a job, its my life to a certain extent filled with responsibilities.
I think to myself then what the word “escape” means to me, while mildly freaking out as we drive on the opposite side of the road for the first time. The word is subjective as everybody has their own ways of freeing their mind. In my case it is no doubt from commissioned projects. Like any company such as 333, we aid others in reaching their goals and dreams. We feel a strong satisfaction when they reach them because of the work that our team has done. Like any artist there will always be that small personal side project that begs for a little attention though. So as we drive down this road on a totally different continent I ask myself; what is this escape that I am currently experiencing, and the the answer is simple; it is time off to focus on my own personal goals and projects to feed my artistic core.
My mind flips back to the task at hand; the road and navigating to get to our first stop: Glencoe, a quaint little town just halfway from Edinburg and the Isle of Skye. The rain is coming down pretty hard and to be honest so is our energy and mood. I hate starting a trip such as this one on the wrong foot. Then again the dark and gloomy clouds are in fact a big part of what makes Scottish landscapes. I start to embrace the cloud coverage but yet still hope for sunshine.
Because the clouds are so dense and hovering at such a low altitude, the highland mountain range just appears in front of us and soon we realize we are surrounded by yellow, brownish coloured mountains. Beautiful, simply stunning, yet I want more. I want to get to our main destination which is the Isle of Skye where we would find great scotch, and two incredible mountain sights; The Old Man Storr, and The Quiraing, located on the east peninsula. After a 35 hour day we rest finally to re-energize for the hikes tomorrow.
It’s a new day, finally, no wind, no rain, great temperature, and incredible blue skies above. We gear up in the car park for Old Man Storr, and head towards the top. Passing falling boulders and cutting through dangerous walking paths we arrive at our desired summit and viewpoint, which overlooks the rocky landscape and lochs below. The image from atop of the mountain is probably one of the best scenic views I have ever seen to date. The tremendous power of nature which is towering around us is a reminder that these landscapes can’t simply be enjoyed behind a computer screen, they have to be witnessed first hand.
After our 4 mile hike up and down the mountain, we choose to finish off our day by viewing the Quirang which is another great attraction to Skye. We want to pack in as much as we could as we know that we have been blessed with such sunny weather, but all good things could come to an end. As we watch the sun come down over The Cuillins from Elgol Bay, we see a storm fast approaching. This is a true representation of the weather conditions in Scotland. The day is officially over but without a doubt it is the best of the trip so far.
7:30AM the next morning: Ahead of schedule we switch up our plan by adding on 500 miles to our voyage by heading further north on the mainland towards the Smoo Caves, an intertwined underground waterway system. After seeing an in-cave waterfall, brown and red mountains, quaint little villages, beaches with blue waters, we punch it back on the twisty, dangerous but yet extremely fun roads to Inverness. Coming to the end of our long 5 day trek, we head through the Cairgnorms, and Breamer National parks on the way back to Edinburgh. The ski hills are closed, yet there is still snow on the sides of the mountains. They almost look like Landmannalaugar hills in Iceland, or in other words, a polka dot mountain range. It is a pleasant last view of the highlands before the landscape slowly starts changing, becoming more and more flat. It is a sign that we are at the bittersweet end. 1200 miles travelled for five days straight. Early mornings, and late nights shooting photos until our heart’s content. What more could a photographer ask for… except more time.
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