To The Western Isles

Luskentyre beach, Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Photo: Luskentyre beach, Isle of Harris, Scotland.  January 2011

In a few hours I’ll be headed out into a night of rain and wind to begin the 12 hour drive to the Ferry in Uig, Isle of Skye and then onwards to Berneray for our 3rd New Year on the islands.  I never really thought I would return a second time, much less a third – especially after last years weather, and with long range forecasts not looking much better this year either.  But Berneray is a nice place, and with pretty much the whole of the UK to choose from, it again seemed like the best location to welcome in 2013.  Then it will be a few more days traveling around Harris and Lewis before making the drive back south.  Though the calender puts New Year’s day just about in the middle of the trip, which means that we can’t actually spend as much time on Harris and Lewis as I would like.  But it will probably rain and blow the whole time anyhow and not matter much.  (Normally I try and remain optimistic about things, but when it comes to Hebridean weather in January, I know better.)

Anyhow, to any of you readers out there.  Happy New Year!

Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis in night sky behind Olstind mountain peak, Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway

10 Best Landscape Photos 2012

Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Night comes to Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February

-10˚ C with not even a hint of wind, the end of an absolutely perfect winter day on Lofoten.  This was the first clear night after a week on the islands, so I was waiting around the Reine area in hopes of seeing some aurora’s later that night, but first, I was presented with this scene as an extra gift.  Perhaps my favourite image of the whole year, as well as the coldest day of 2012 on Lofoten.

Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis in night sky behind Olstind mountain peak, Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Aurora behind Olstinden, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February

I had been waiting a week for the right conditions to hopefully make this photograph.  To me, the pyramidical peak of Olstinden, as is rises out of the cold waters of the Kjerkfjord, is an icon of the Lofoten Islands.  The Aurora wasn’t as big as I was hoping for, but it’s a start to an image that I hope to refine over my next journeys to the islands.  I think the clouds make it almost look like an erupting volcano.

Å I Lofoten, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Approaching storm, Å, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February

My last full day after two weeks on the islands was one of winter storms sweeping the lands.  One of those days when you watch the snow heading towards you, take shelter for 20 minutes, then rush out again between flurries to hopefully grab a few photo.  The cliffs here, past the village of Å, and looking west towards the end of Lofoten are one of my favourite winter locations on the islands.

Lofoten Islands winter, Norway

Photo: Ice flower, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February

Warm temperatures brought snow melting rain to the islands.  My hope of ‘snowy mountain landscapes’ was lost and I was left searching for other interesting elements of winter to photograph.   Here, in a small tidal bay near Eggum, a rock had created a ‘flower’ like shape as the ice receded.  Now that the snow was gone, this added an element of interest to what would otherwise have been a fairly flat and mundane scenic.

Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Olstinden winter panoramic, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February

In the cold and the calm of this evening the surface of the fjord began to freeze over.  With the inner waters still, Olstinden reflects in near perfect symmetry.  I wish there had been a bit more interesting light to work with, but I think the subject is still strong enough for me to like this image.

Mount Whintey, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California

Photo: Camping beneath mt Whitney, California.  April

I like the contrast of my yellow tent and the deep blue of the evening sky while camped at Iceberg lake on the mountaineers route to mt. Whitney.

Horseid beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Horseid beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  August

Horseid is a brilliant, Isolated, beach on the northern coast of Lofoten.  I hiked several hours through rain and whiteouts that at first I thought I had made a mistake heading there.  But by the next morning, the rain had stopped while the dramatic skies still hung over the mountains.


Summer evening twilight, Stamsund, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Summer twilight over Stamsund, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  August

Even in late August, Lofoten’s sky still glows at 1am as the next day quickly approaches.  I took an evening stroll up the hill behind the hostel to check for auroras but found this scene instead.  I just stood there for a while in the stillness, glad to once again be in the north.

Kungsleden trail, Lappland, Sweden

Photo: Autumn on the Kungsleden trail, Lapland, Sweden.  September

I can feel the cold in this image (as well as remember it).  The bright reds and oranges or the small scrubs in the sub-Arctic tundra of northern Sweden’s mountain, combined with snow covered peaks and grey skies are what the Kungsleden trail in Autumn is.

Offersoykammen, Vestvagoya, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Afternoon light on Offersøykammen, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  October

After an unsuccessful afternoon of chasing light around the islands, I finally decided to head up the small peak of Offersøykammen and see what cards the weather would deal me.  As the sun neared the horizon, clouds began to rise around the mountain.  But before I was enveloped in a gray so thick I could hardly follow the trail back down, the mist lit up in the sunlight shining a golden light across the Autumn mountain landscape.

Time for another year to draw to a close, though truthfully, I can’t say it comes too soon.  2012 was a difficult year for me,  one of more setbacks than accomplishments.  A few dreams have fallen through the cracks or been put on the the back burners indefinitely, with little hopes of revival.  I also didn’t get out photographing nearly as much as I’d planned (as I write this now, I haven’t touched my camera in almost in 2 months.).  If it wasn’t for a few trips to Lofoten, I’d basically have nothing to show for the whole year; 8 of 10 images here being from the islands, although maybe that speaks more about the brilliance of Lofoten.  I felt I was often stuck in the paralysis of inaction, unable to make any decisions or move myself or my career forward.  Maybe I put myself under more pressure to return with something ‘good,’ and ironically, chose locations to travel to where this is less likely to happen.  Or maybe I’ve simply raised my standards to something that I can only rarely achieve; and thus that lack of apparent achievement continues the cycle ad infinitum.  Who knows.

On the positive side, I do think there are a few good images here.  Maybe even a couple that I’d say are some of my all time favourites.  Although I’m not sure if this isn’t more based on my memories than of the actual photo.

In a couple more days I head north to Scotland to bring in 2013 on a small little island at the edge of the world.  So here’s to a good start of the new year; one that hopefully I can find some focus and kick some ass in!

Ryten – New Mountain Hiking Guide

Ryten, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Lofoten’s northern coast from the summit of Ryten, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  August 2012

New hiking guide for Ryten -CLICK HERE- 

Ryten is one of the last peaks in the northeast tip of Moskenesøya.  But the small mountain is better known for it’s spectacular views down to Kvalvika beach.  I now have a new guide up at 68north for hiking this scenic little peak.

This will be my last update at 68north for the year, I’ll pick things back up in January with a few more hiking guides and also some more general travel ‘itinerary’ type guides and so on.  I’m also going to really put some effort into writing some more photography-specific guides to each island which I can hopefully turn into some (free) eBook’s so you can download and take with you on your photo tour of Lofoten.  Only setback will be the design aspect, which I’m not so good at…

Looking down on Kvalvika beach from near summit of Ryten, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Spectacular Kvalvika beach seen from summit of Ryten, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  August 2012

Person stands under rainbow near summit of Ryten, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Summer rain and rainbow over Ryten, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  August 2012

German Photo Gallery Update

Watzmann Berchtesgaden national park, Bavaria, Germany

Photo: Dawn comes to Watzmann, Berchtesgaden national park, Germany.  October 2012

I forgot to mention in Monday’s post that I’ve added a few more images to my German photo archive -CLICK HERE-  Other than a week in the Alps in October, I really haven’t photographed much in Germany since I left in 2009.  So I guess I was a bit overdue to add a few new images.

Evening sky over Aggenstein Allgaeu, Bavaria, Germany

Photo: Indian summer twilight at Aggenstein, Allgäu, Bavaria, Germany.  October 2012

Berchtesgaden alps germany

Photo: Afternoon light across the Alps from the summit of Schneibstain, Berchtesgaden national park, Germany.  October 2012



Himmeltindan Hiking Guide – Lofoten Islands

View from summit of Himmeltindan

Photo: View from summit of Himmeltindan, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  Oct 2012

There’s now a new hiking guide for Himmeltindan over at 68north.


The highest mountain on Vestvågøya, Himmeltindan is a steep hike up to the 931 meters of the south summit.  The higher north summit is closed to the public, as it is used as a military radar station.  And there is actually a tunnel/elevator running inside the mountain.  On the day I hiked the peak though, there were a few army dudes at the top who said I could hike over to the north summit as the radar was down for repair that day.  I may have been a bit unlucky with the light, but at least I got access to the highest part of the mountain.  If I was in the army, I think I’d take the elevator up there to watch the northern lights, would be a pretty awesome place!

Himmeltindan and Utakleiv Lofoten Islands Norway

Photo: Himmeltindan rises above sea at Utakleiv, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  Oct 2012

Islands in the Sky – Allgäu Germany

Breitenberg,  Allgäu, Bavaria, Germany

Photo: Alpine foothills rise above fog, from summit of Breitenberg, Allgäu, Germany.  Oct 2012

At the end of October I found myself cruising around the Alp foothills along the German – Austrian border.  In what is somewhat typical autumn weather in Germany, a heavy layer of fog hovered over the lowlands of Bavaria.  Luckily it only rose to about 500 meters, above that it was glorious sunny weather with temps in the mid 20’s (˚ C) with hardly a cloud to be seen.  It was actually a bit too hot for me, only having somewhat warm pants that I had used for hiking in northern Sweden where I had already experienced snow storm in the middle of September.

One of the days I headed up to Breitenberg, a small peak near the village of Pfronten.  I stayed at the Ostlerhutte, which to my surprise, I ended up being the only guest which actually felt a bit awkward for me.   In the afternoon I headed up Aggenstein, the highest peak in the area. I thought about sticking around up there until sunset, but I also didn’t want to get back to the hut too late (this was before I knew I was the only person).  Breitenberg proved to be a fairly decent spot as the fog came up right to the base of the mountain.

Breitenberg, Allgäu, Bavaria, Germany

Photo: A sea of clouds and islands of mountain, Breitenberg,  Allgäu, Bavaria, Germany.  Oct 2012

Mountains emerge above inversion layer fog, from summit of Breitenberg, Allgäu, Bavaria, Germany

Photo: Evening light from Breitenberg,  Allgäu, Bavaria, Germany.  Oct 2012

mountain shadows on inversion layer fog, from summit of Breitenberg, Allgäu, Germany

Photo: Mountain shadows in late afternoon, Breitenberg,  Allgäu, Bavaria, Germany


Hoven – Lofoten Islands

Hoven mountain peak, Gimsoya, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Hoven rises above marshland of Gimsøya, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  October 2012

New hiking guide for Hoven -CLICK HERE- over at

Hoven is a small little peak/hill that rises alone out of the boggy flats of northern Gimsøya.  It makes a nice easy hike for those days when the weather isn’t the best but maybe you still want to get outside.  The low elevation means that the summit is usually below the clouds while the other higher peaks are concealed.  And the views aren’t that bad anyhow.  Would actually probably make a good place to watch the northern lights from as you get a true 360 degree view without much effort…

Also…  I’ve already posted links to the full galleries here, but again, at I’ve added two new galleries for my summer and autumn trips.

-CLICK HERE- for summer Lofoten photos

-CLICK HERE- for autumn Lofoten photos

Kungsleden Trail Autumn Photo Gallery

Kungsleden trail hiking sweden

Photo: ‘Mountain sidewalk’ along the Kungsleden trail, Sweden.  September 2012

I’ve added a new gallery of images from my mid September hike on the northern section of the Kungsleden trail – from Nikkaluokta to Abisko.  In a few more days I’ll hopefully add a more detailed writeup about the whole journey.  But other than getting a bad cold halfway through, I had much better conditions than my previous hike in 2009; even some days where I could hike in a t-shirt, something I never thought possible!

–CLICK HERE– to view photo gallery from September 2012.

lake Radujavri along Kungsleden trail, Lappland, Sweden

Photo: Evening comes to lake Radujavri, Kungsleden trail, Sweden.  September 2012


Alisvaggi, Kungsleden trail, Lappland, Sweden

Photo: Incoming storm over Alisvaggi, Kungsleden trail, Lappland, Sweden.  September 2012


Lofoten Islands – Horseid Beach Hiking Guide

Horseid beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Horseid beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  August 2012

Over at I’ve just added a new hiking guide for Horseid Beach -CLICK HERE- to check it out.

One of Lofoten’s most scenic beaches, it is also one of the least visited.  The short article provides info on getting to Horseid via the ferry from Reine as well as a few suggestions as to the best places to camp.  Also a few more photos as well…

Tent camping at Horseid beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Wilde camping at Horseid beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  August 2012

Hebridean New Year

Luskentyre beach isle of harris

Photo: Dawn at Luskentyre beach, Isle of Harris, Scotland.  January 2011

December already…

In what seems to be quickly turning into an annual tradition, I’m making plans to head up to Scotland’s Outer Hebrides to bring in the new year.  More specifically we’ll spend New Year’s eve in the tiny, cosy thatched roof hostel on Berneray, where I’ve brought in the last two years.  After that, the schedule is open, with a week to explore the Uists, Harris and Lewis.  And on the 12 hour drive back to Wales we’ll probably take a night or two in Glen Coe to break up the drive a bit.

I’m a bit worried about a repetition of last year’s festival of wind and gales, which if you asked me to describe in one word, I would say: shit!  Two words: Total shit!. Three words: well you get the picture…  So far the weather has been a fair amount calmer and colder (which is good), so hopefully conditions are closer to two years ago where there were at least a couple calm days to be had, and some snow on the islands, which makes for nice photos.  But being the north of Scotland at the darkest time of the year, just about any type of bad weather is possible.  On the bright side, at least I wont have to worry about midges…

Large winter waves crash against cliffs at Butt of Lewis, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Photo: Winter storm crashes into coast at Butt of Lewis, Isle of Lewis, Scotland.  January 2012

Callanish standing stones lit by light at night, Isle of Lewis, Western Isles, Scotland

Photo: Callanish standing stones, Isle of Lewis, Scotland.  January 2011


Photo: 12 hour drive to the north, then a ferry