The gradient steepened as I neared the end of the climb and approached the flat summit. As the terrain suddenly and dramatically flattened the wind hit me and all the effort of the ascent dissolved into the freedom of a gradient-free stroll. I was now walking across what struck me as being a super-sized site for the highest and wildest football pitch in Britain. This was the top of Healabhal Mhòr, better known as Macleod’s Table North, one of an inseparable pair of ‘tabletop’ hills situated in the Duirnish region of the Isle of Skye.
I was hoping for some photographic opportunities, not just on that day but during my week long stay on Skye. There’s something quite unique about the quality and clarity of light in Scotland that all landscape photographers will recognise. I find it hard to explain but it’s definitely something I sense. In the case of Skye I’m sure lack of light pollution from artificial sources is a contributory factor, perhaps aided by the ever moving and changing weather systems that affect such northerly locations. Whatever the reason it’s a photographers delight, especially in early autumn.
Up on Macleod’s Table the wind was whipping across the exposed top whilst over to the south the sun was dancing on the water, randomly choosing when to light up the scene beyond Healabhal Bheag (Macleod’s Table South). Having chosen a foreground offering grassy texture and a large lichen and moss clad rock, I dug the long spiked feet of my tripod into the spongy turf to set up a shot looking south. No sunlight shone on either of Macleod’s tables, only now and again on the sea and islands beyond.
My viewfinder was filled with shape, form and texture suggesting a final image in black and white may well be the best way to describe this wild scene, but still I wondered if there was photograph to be had here. At the critical moment when the sun broke free in the distance and contrast worked its magic, the scene was duly elevated to one worthy of capture. I was both pleased and relieved because this was a truly magnificent view and a very special place.