In September 2019 6 members of the Alsager U3A Photo Editing Group set off on a trip around Scotland with the intention of taking photographs of the marvellous Scottish scenery, places of interest and with two highlights to photograph the White tailed sea eagles on the Isle of Mull and to photograph the Northern Lights.
After setting off from Alsager the first stop was the Falkirk Wheel. The Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat lift that transfers canal boats between the Forth and Clyde Canal and the Union Canal. It opened in 2002as part of the Millennium Link project to restore the canal links between Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Our next stop, a short drive from the Falkirk Wheel was The Kelpies, two 30 metre-high horse-head sculptures which form a dramatic focus to the public space, The Helix, around the canal entrance to the Forth and Clyde canal.
The next day a ferry from Oban took us to our next location, Mull where we would stay for a few days.
A charter boat provides the opportunity to travel out to Loch Na Keal to see the White tailed sea eagles at close quarters. The weather was very kind and provided clear blue skies and a very gentle breeze for our trip. We witnessed the wonderful scenery and the dramatic sight of White tailed sea eagles feeding just a short distance from our boat.
From Mull the next stop was the Isle of Skye where the group visited well-known places, including theold Man of Storr, the Quiraing, the lighthouse at Neist Point and Portree. The weather continued to be exceptionally good, with hardly any rain since leaving Alsager. A visit to the Fairy Pools in Glen Brittle was followed by a cup of coffee in a café by the beach where people were bathing in the sea on a very warm and sunny day.
The next location was Durness on the north coast of Scotland. Here the objective was to take photographs of the Northern Lights which are notoriously unpredictable, which when combined with occasional cloud cover made the results hard won.
The days in Durness were spent walking along the stunning beaches and visiting local places of interest, such as Smoo cave, a large cave on the beach set in limestone cliffs, through which a river flows, plunging from the roof of the cave into a deep green pool before completing its journey to the sea through the mouth of the cave.
After Durness we turned south to the next location of Lairg where the pursuit of the Northern Lights continued, in addition to the continuing exploration of the many restaurants in the area. A trip during the day to the Falls of Shin was scheduled where we hoped to photograph salmon leaping up the falls. Only one of us did manage to capture a photograph of a salmon overcoming the falls.
The stay in Lairg was completed with a visit to Dunrobin Castle, overlooking the Moray Firth, the family seat of the Earl of Sutherland.
The next location south was Fort William where we visited the heavily wooded Glen Nevis, which as its name suggests, runs below Ben Nevis and then travelling on to Glen Coe. We took photographs of the Glenfinnan Viaduct, complete with the classic steam train made famous in the Harry Potter films.
We Visited Glen Etive, renowned for its beauty and solitude before travelling on to visit a power station that is located below Ben Cruachan, on the banks of Loch Awe in Argyll. The Cruachan power station is one of only 4 reversible pump-storage power stations in the UK.
Cruachan power station generates electricity during times of peak demand by using water stored in a reservoir on Ben Cruachan. When demand is low the turbines are used to pump water from Loch Awe back up to refill the reservoir, which because of the large size of Loch Awe, has little effect onits water level.
From Fort William we travelled south, stopping overnight in Glasgow, before completing our return to Alsager, 3 weeks later, tired and happy with our results.