Photographer Stephen Whitehorne explores the scenic severity of Torridon.
The minor road that hugs the coastline northwards from Applecross was my favoured approach to Loch Torridon on a fine February afternoon. This magnificent view, across sun-kissed sands, the Inner Sound and beyond to Raasay and Skye, was just one of many scenic delights along the way.
As storm clouds steadily gathered on Slioch, that giant, brooding ‘molar tooth’ which dominates Loch Maree, I hastily positioned my camera to capture what remained of a jewel-like luminescence on the water’s surface; a beguiling scene augmented by a sunlit foreground of vibrant, autumnal tones.
White-washed walls and a bright red corrugated roof added colour and form to this photograph of Loch Shieldaig. But this picture-perfect cottage overlooking the sea seemed an enviable location for romantics too, for relaxed and extended contemplation of the endless configurations of light, weather and landscape that define Torridon.
Only the faint chugging of a distant fishing boat disturbed an enduring, though all too rare, silence. Captivated by high-level snows blushed pink by the glancing rays of the setting sun, I focused on the two mountains that dominated this stunning backdrop to Loch Torridon, Beinn Alligin and Liathach.
Embraced by the extended arms of steep cliffs, the remote pier at Lower Diabaig was a perfect refuge. Wind-free and basking in the afternoon sunshine, this picture-postcard idyll was my reward for persevering to the very end of the roller-coaster road by the north shore of Loch Torridon.
An orange sunset glow over Upper Loch Torridon seemed to intensify the blue tones of the Isle of Skye beyond. In fading light, the snow-covered cliffs of Trotternish, though distant, were the last visible details in a silhouetted landscape of trees, inlets and rocky promontories.
As a hillwalker who loved the mountains of the Shieldaig and Torridon Forests, I was familiar with their sharp peaks and sandstone terraces. From Big Sand however, I was inspired instead by the evocative appeal of their abstract profiles, of pale-blue mountains half-lost in the summer haze across Loch Gairloch.
High up on Beinn Eighe, I panned my camera over a beautiful but stark wilderness of imposing, sandstone outcrops and partly-frozen lochans. Springtime must have forgotten the Flowerdale Forest where, it seemed, neither tree nor flower had dared take root – nowhere else in Scotland seems less deserving of its name!