Under normal circumstances, we take a holiday in Scotland towards the end of September every year. This year has been different, and we weren’t even sure if we’d be able to make the trip in 2020. The Scotland 2020 trip was booked in 2019 as we wanted to return to the cottage in Rowardennan we visited a couple of years ago and it gets booked up quickly.
Originally, we booked the second week of October, but we moved the date back a week to enable our friends to join us. We moved it to the week of half term which is something we try to avoid for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the prices normally get inflated as people with children are restricted to these weeks and the owners know this. Secondly, everything is usually more crowded due to the aforementioned families going on holiday at this time.
Thankfully, it looks like we timed the holiday right. We came out of our first lockdown in June and things were looking promising, then we started to see the precursor of the second wave. Scotland decided to do their own thing and put different restrictions in place to England. That just made everything confusing and we still didn’t know if we’d be able to travel right up until the day before we were due to depart. Our friends had already made the decision not to travel due to the restrictions in the area in which they live.
The area we were staying in was placed in the highest tier of restrictions in Scotland, so this meant none of the hospitality was open. We decided we didn’t really want to risk eating out and planned to grab a weeks’ worth of food from the supermarket on the day we arrived and spend the week self-catering in the cottage.
We also made a conscious decision not to do much at all during the week as we were both in need of a break to rest and recharge our batteries. We did make a couple of trips out, a couple of them were to places we’d visited previously but we did visit one new location.
That new location was the Queen Elizabth Forest Park. We’d tried to visit it a couple of times on previous trips to Scotland, but for whatever reason we had never managed to fit it in. Having finally managed to visit, I wish I’d have done it sooner.
I wasn’t sure what to expect in the Park itself, all I knew was that there was a Go Ape centre and a waterfall. If you’ve visited many waterfalls around the UK, what passes for a waterfall can vary massively. It could be a 3ft trickle or it could be a 100ft multi-level drop. This one turned out to be closer to the latter and a pleasant surprise.
In fact, the whole park was a pleasant surprise. There is plenty of available parking and its priced reasonably. There are several different distance walks around the park, all of which are well marked. Most of the paths are smooth, wheelchair or pushchair friendly and well maintained. There are also activities spaced out along the paths to keep younger visitors interested and entertained. There is also a wildlife hide with feeding stations where you can get closer to the local wildlife.
I spent most of my time photographing the waterfall while the area was quiet. As I had Kay and the dogs with me, I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked, they get bored quickly if they’re hanging around doing nothing. So, I packed up and we went for a wander around the woodland.
Kay managed to spot a red squirrel while I was shooting the waterfall but when we went back it was nowhere to be seen. We passed by the wildlife hide but again, we had the dogs with us, so it wasn’t fair to disturb everyone else by taking them in there.
We circled back to the waterfall and Kay stopped to grab some food out of her pack as we hadn’t had breakfast and I took the change to break out mu longer lens and take some alternate shots of the waterfall. I didn’t have much time, so these were quick handheld shots.
Ironically, these turned out to be my favourite shots. The ones I’d take time over, experimenting with various shutter speeds and shooting from a tripod were ok, but my composition was off, and I hadn’t left enough space around the top of the waterfall. I also felt the waterfall was a little small in the frame.
You can make up your own mind which is better, you may disagree and that’s ok. Photography, like art is down to personal preference and taste. The original shot is the title image for this post, and the handheld shot is below.
It’s a shame I didn’t spend more time reviewing the image while I was there. I may have spent a little more time trying different compositions and get a shot like the one above, just with a slightly longer shutter speed. Like everything, this is a learning experience and something I will remember next time I’m out in the field.
I will be visiting this location again on our next trip to Scotland, next time I’ll get the shots I have envisaged since reviewing these.
Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read my ramblings. I hope you learn something from them.
Until next time, stay safe.