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15 January 201812:03PMviking-raidtravel

"I want to see mountains again, Gandalf, mountains, and then find somewhere where I can rest. "

I've got a bit of a confession to make. This trip was inspired, at least in part, by Reddit.

Specifically, it started with a section of Reddit called EarthPorn, where people share particularly stunning images of nature. I saw this stuff scrolling up my screen, and I realised that I wanted to see them for real. Not just as a cropped down frame, but all around me. So, about two years ago, I decided that's what I'd do once I finished my thesis. It's always a risk going to places you've seen and read about, but this time I decided to risk it.

A couple of the places we've visited so far are frequent EarthPorn submissions, but probably none more so than the Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye.

The Storr is a great big distinctively-shaped pillar, nestled in the hills outside Portree. It's about fifteen minutes drive out of town, and then about another fifty to walk up to the top.

the  winding path up to the storr

The closer we get, the bigger that one weird old pillar gets, until it's looming right over our heads. It's certainly distinctive. It reminds me of an enormous beehive. Or maybe a very decayed tooth.

the  storr against grey cliffs

Even from right underneath, it's dwarfed by the cliffs around it. Most photographers choose to photograph it from the other side, getting a little higher up. We didn't - the track wasn't in great condition and the sun was starting to set - but if we had, that backdrop would've been less imposing cliff-face and more... well, this:

a windswept highland sunset

For two places renowned for their powerful landscapes, Scotland and Iceland are surprisingly different. Iceland is dramatic, Scotland is rugged. Iceland is blue and white, Scotland is green, grey and gold - even in winter.

Just about the only thing they have in common is that somehow, despite the perfect framing, despite the exquisite post-production despite the selection and voting which sends these places viral, no photograph can possibly compare to being there.

I have seen the most perfectly manicured and popularly chosen photos of these places, and I am still never disappointed.

And the walk back isn't bad either.

lochie walks back towards the car


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