Now I know why I focus my landscape photography on the British Isles. England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland all feature in the Rough Guides readers Top Twenty Most Beautiful Countries in the World and Scotland came out on top. Scotland didn’t stop there either with Lewis & Harris in the Outer Hebrides being selected by Trip Advisor as the Best Island in Europe and also in the Top Five in the World. Mainland Orkney and Mull also featured in the Top Ten in Europe. Scotland also had six out of ten islands in the UK Top Ten including in addition to those already mentioned were Skye, Mull, Arran and Islay. England was represented by Jersey in the Channel Islands, St. Mary’s in the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Man with the Isle of Anglesey in Wales completing the list.
I couldn’t let all that pass without showing you some of the landscapes which I am sure have helped to bring Scotland all this success and which is justly deserved in the “Year of the Homecoming 2014”
Its only right that we start in the Outer Hebrides and in the south west of the Isle of Harris and a beach which for me as to be one of the most beautiful I have been fortunate enough to visit and that includes other countries I have visited. The white sand is partly ground shell, blown onto land which forms the fertile machair that dominates the west coasts of the Outer Hebrides.
Unfortunately I have not had the opportunity yet to visit the Orkneys but surely now I must make an extra special effort seeing as it is the only one of the Scottish islands honoured that I have not visited.
I have visited the Isle of Skye a number of times one of which was only a passing visit on my way to catch the ferry from Uig to Stornaway. Just after passing the main town on the island Portree, you pass one of the classic views on Skye. The Storr is a rocky hill on the Trotternish peninsula. The hill presents a steep rocky eastern face overlooking the Sound of Raasay, contrasting with gentler grassy slopes to the west. The area in front of the cliffs of the Storr is known as the Sanctuary. This has a number of weirdly shaped rock pinnacles, the remnants of ancient landslips. One of the most famous of these is known as the Old Man of Storr which you can see in the image below.
A short while ago I posted about the Isle of Arran known as “Scotland in Miniature” and when I spent a few days there on my way to the Kintyre Peninsula and the Isle of Islay this was the view I was fortunate enough to wake up to each morning on the south of the island.
The island of Pladda can be seen on the left with the lighthouse and the much more distant Ailsa Craig, complete with its 338m peak. The name comes from the Gaelic “Fairy Rock”; and its contrast with Pladda, rising just 27m from the sea, could hardly be greater.
I mentioned earlier the Isle of Islay – the “Queen of the Hebrides” with its nine distilleries as well as an outstanding landscape. One of my favourite parts of the island is at Killinallan Point, a beautiful and lonely headland at the far northeast of Loch Gruinart. Killinallan Point consists of a dune system with very interesting wind shaped sand figures and beautiful beaches surrounding the point. It’s typically the place where the tides from the Atlantic Ocean meet the water in Loch Gruinart and from where the many Barnacle Geese can be seen first when they return to Islay for the winter.
Finally we will drop in on the magical Isle of Mull and its colourful capital Tobermory. It is located in the northeastern part of the island, near the northern entrance of the Sound of Mull. The town was founded as a fishing port in 1788, its layout based on the designs of Dumfriesshire engineer Thomas Telford. Tobermory was also home to the Balamory British television 254 episode series for pre school children which was filmed mostly in Tobermory between 2002 and 2005.
I hope you have enjoyed taking a look at some of the reasons why Scotland is ranked as the Most Beautiful Country in the World.