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Scotland is strongly associated with beautiful scenery pictures. It all goes back to the 'cult of the picturesque' touched on in the Trossachs pages on this site. The scenic ingredients of bens and glens, lochs and rough woods have been thrilling visitors essentially since the start of the Romantic era before the end of the 18th century.
Originally, like scenic big game hunters, visitors 'bagged' wild and hence attractive landscapes sometimes using their 'Claude Glass' - a small tinted and slightly convex mirror - that reflected and framed the scene which they then sketched or painted. (Claude Lorrain was a 17th century landscape painter. Though French by birth, he worked in Rome and was noted for his classical themes and also the tonal range of his technique.) Anyway, no early tourist kit was complete without one of these mirrors. Visitors with artistic aspirations created their own beautiful scenery pictures -ironically, by turning their back on the real view!
By the way, I've never used a Claude Glass, but sometimes even I get away from the keyboard, pick up a paintbrush, and you can see some of the results on Scotland art - my wee gallery and fun painting site. Take a look.
Anyway, I've ferreted through some of my photographs and found three examples of where there are impressive views, making classic Scottish beautiful scenery pictures - but where there are also interesting landscapes looking in exactly the other direction. OK, it's not quite the same as using a Claude glass, but you get the idea……
Here is Beinn Sgritheall on the mainland, viewed from the Isle of Skye, looking eastwards. Obviously, it's autumn and as far as beautiful scenery pictures go, it probably ticks some of the boxes. That part of the mainland coastline, around Lochs Nevis and Hourn, including the Rough Bounds of Knoydart, has a certain mystique as it isn't really accessible to casual road tourers. This is a long way of saying it hasn't got any through-roads. It's wild Scotland at its best.
Turning to face back into the island, the Cuillin Hills of Skye to the north-west are visible over the moors that form the base of the Sleat peninsula. This was one of those late autumn days when high pressure calms everything down for a little while at least, even on the western seaboard. Sadly, though, it was also taken a few years ago, just before digital cameras with a generous allocation of pixels became available. What are the chances of my standing on the same spot with the light as clear and being able to shoot these again but with a better camera? Probably reasonable so long as I was a Skye resident. But beautiful scenery pictures in Scotland so often depend on being in the right place and then being lucky with the weather.
Another haunt of camera carrying visitors, the famous white sands (or silver sands) of Morar have been photographed from every angle. This is a view around half-tide from a headland near Toigal (or Tougal) where the short River Morar meets the sea.
Turn round to face south and you find these delectable sandy inlets run off southwards, down to Back of Keppoch and beyond. These beaches became famous as the sands by the village of Ferness threatened by the planned oil refinery in the movie 'Local Hero' with Peter Riegert and Burt Lancaster.
Just as I put up this page, I remembered I also had a picture of where the last two pictures above were taken from - if you see what I mean. Here's the headland mentioned, top right, taken when the tide was high and, as a bonus, the Jacobite summer steam-hauled service passing north towards Mallaig.
Did I say beautiful scenery pictures? Maybe I meant rugged, or bare and a little chilly even when the sun is shining. Or maybe that last bit was how I was feeling when I took this picture. The little mountain of Stac Pollaidh, on which I stand, may be small, but it's eroding and crumbly, with lots of slightly scary rocks and pinnacles on it. This is the story of the day we went to climb Stac Pollaidh. It's popular with walkers but demands respect. This view is looking eastwards towards Loch Lurgainn and the only slightly bigger little mountain of Cul Beag.
Face the other direction and you get an even better impression of these western seaboard landscapes. These peaks are sandstone, mostly, standing on a plinth of gneiss - or, more accurately, Lewissian gneiss, one of the oldest rocks in the world. The ancient glaciers scoured out the hollows that are now interlaced lochs, while the sandstone eroded into the weird terraced profiles that characterise the Inverpolly peaks.
This in turn I believe to have launched a thousand postcards from visitors over the years, each one having been unable to resist writing: 'having a gneiss time in Scotland.' This is essentially a variation on that other Scottish postcard greeting, originally describing the summit of Ben Nevis: 'missed the view but viewed the mist'. Groan.
More nice pictures? The scenery around Crianlarich in the Southern Highlands is worth a look. What a choice - for landscapes that are a little more spare and bare, take a look at the scenery of Scotland. For beautiful Hebrides scenery, check out our Colonsay page.
Enjoy some more inspiring pictures of Scotland here.
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