Isle of Skye Photography Locations – The Cuillins & Sleat

This post is part of a three-part series on my favourite places to photograph on the glorious Isle of Skye. Frankly, you could do worse than to just show up anywhere, at any time, and just have your camera ready, for the light on Skye is superb, and the wonderful landscape offers so many possibilities!


The Fairy Pools, Glenbrittle, Isle of Skye

The Fairy Pools, Glenbrittle, Isle of Skye – limited edition print



The little fishing port of Elgol is a popular photographic destination for several reasons. First and foremost, it has a perfect vantage point for views across to the Black Cuillins. Late evening and sunset are best for wide-angle shots with the mountains as background. There’s more to Elgol, though; the cliffs at water’s edge are honeycombed limestone, and the pattern of the rock face provides fascinating graphic images. If there is drama in the evening sky you can get lovely shots of the fishing boats near the pier.

The Cuillin Hills from Elgol

The Cuillin Hills from Elgol


Prince Charlie’s Cave

A rough trail from Elgol leads across the boggy headland to Prince Charlie’s Cave, where Bonnie Prince Charlie hid from his English pursuers. The cave itself is not terribly photogenic, but the beach before the cave is a treasure trove of fascinating shapes and channels carved by the action of tide and wind. Be careful, though – the beach is only accessible at low tide, so check before setting out from Elgol.

Black Cuillins & Loch Coriusk

Several companies offer boat trips from Elgol to the inland loch of Coriusk, which sits like a jewel within the jagged ring of the Black Cuillin peaks. Trips vary in length, but you can opt for a full-day outing, which allows you enough time to walk around much of the loch, or to climb reasonable far up one of the surrounding peaks for views down the loch. The peaks do make for high contrast scenes if the sun is out, so graduated ND filters are a must (but then, they usually are for good landscape photography).

Loch Coriusk and the Black Cuillins

Loch Coriusk and the Black Cuillins


Glen Sligachan

It is overkill to call Sligachan a village; its really no more than a hotel and campground situated about halfway between Broadford and Portree. There are several walking trails leading up the nearby Red Cuillins and beyond. The classic view of Sligachan has the old disused bridge in the foreground with the peaks of the Cuillins beyond – get up early to get the best light to the mountains. There are plenty of places to park just off the road.

Cuillin Hlls from Sligachan, Skye

The Cuillin Hlls from Sligachan limited edition print


Loch Torrin

Midway down the road leading from Broadford to Elgol lies the narrow sea loch of Torrin. In the late afternoon sunlight this is a magical place, with boats dancing at anchor on the loch, and the Red Cuillins lit up with a golden spotlight. It is definitely a place for evening photography. I like the mossy area at the very head of the loch, where the water has created small islands in the peat. This makes intriguing foreground interest for shots across the loch to the Red Cuillins beyond.

Loch Cill Chriosd

Just a mile or two down the Broadford to Elgol road lies Loch Cill Chriosd. Just north of the loch stands a ruined Iron Age village, and closer to the water is a ruined medieval church. The loch itself is very photogenic, with reed beds near the road, leading your eye into the loch, and beyond to low peaks. Best in the spring or summer when the reeds are lush. Late afternoon light gives the best angle for scenic views.

Loch Cill Chriosd

Loch Cill Chriosd


Fairy Pools

Halfway between Sligachan and Glenbrittle the roads dips down to the valley floor, where a Forestry Commission parking lot has plenty of space for visitors. Take the lower of two paths along the Allt Coir a’ Mhadaidh and after 15 minutes walk you will come to the romantically named Fairy Pools, a series of pools and waterfalls at the very foot of the Cuillins. The scene is pure magic, and a wide angle lens will take in the foreground waterscape with the dark peaks above. Best in the late afternoon or evening; especially if the sky shows drama or sunset colours.

The Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye

The Fairy Pools, Glenbrittle

Coire Lagan

From the end of the road in Glenbrittle, near the youth hostel, a trail leads up some 550 metres to the isolated lochan of Coire Lagan. The location is superb, with the high hills of the Black Cuillins towering over the lochan. A short side-trip takes you to the Eas More waterfall on Allt Coire na Banachdich, a visually stunning falls, where the stream tumbles straight down from a cleft in the plateau to the glen floor far below.

Eas Mor waterfall

Eas More waterfall on Allt Coire na Banachdich, near Coire Lagan


Dunscaith Castle (Ord)

A mile past Ord, on the Sleat peninsula, lies the ruined castle of Dunscaith; crumbling ruins sitting atop a rocky promontory, where the waves crash. Its a romantic spot, but you’ll need wellies to make the most of it. Get right out into the water if you can, to really catch the drama of the site. Be aware; the floor of the bridge leading to the castle is gone. You can access the interior, but be careful crossing the slender archway; there’s a 15 foot drop onto sharp rocks if you slip. If you do cross the bridge to the castle interior, you’ll be rewarded by excellent views across the loch to the Cuillins.

Armadale Castle gardens

One of the more ‘civilized’ places to photograph on Skye, Armadale Castle contains 40 acres of formal gardens and woodland trails. The spring and summer seasons offer plenty of flowers in bloom, but even in the colder months of the year the mild weather here on Sleat means that there will be plenty of interest at Armadale. The castle itself has several crumbling archways that lend themselves to romantic or Gothic style compositions.

These are just a few of my favourite places in the Sleat and Cuillin area of Skye – stay tuned for more locations on the Isle of Skye as I pour through my image collection!