A Portrait of the North: Isle of Skye, Scotland, UK

A Portrait of the North: Isle of Skye, Scotland, UK

is what I wanted: an unadulterated encounter with wild
, at the moment that winter assumes its reign.

In summer, Scotland is a place that welcomes an entourage of
holidaymakers. Campervans ram the questionably equipped isles;
images of arcing cliffs and still lochs fill social media feeds.
Winter, however, paints a very different picture.

The windows of our small Peugeot van rattle violently as the
wind taunts outside. It’s 7am but the night is still in control.
The light has been intermittent but rich; the place is vast, wild
and eerily empty; the days are short.

The season demands a slower pace of life. Long nights give no
choice but to switch off, reflect on the day and appreciate the
close relationship to nature that this northern territory

Driving westward from Duncansby Head, we observe how the varying
patterns of weather influence the landscape. We watch the swell
free itself on steep rock shelves, creating short, wide waves. We
climb dunes and gaze across white-sand beaches that dance in the

After a week we make it to Durness, from where we begin the
stint south towards Skye. Dramatic landscapes are framed by the
defiant white of snow and washed blue of the Atlantic. Winding
roads cut slits in the mountainous horizon, allowing us to meet
certain parts of the ocean once again.

While this time of year in northwestern Scotland may seem
daunting, it also provides a welcome change to the flash-like speed
of life at home. In the wake of storms, the landscape seems
exaggerated – sharing this spectacle with no one other than a few
hooting sea birds makes the cold, dark days worth every second.
It’s an unfiltered view, an untainted perspective, a true portrait
of a northern winter.

@tobybutlerphoto | Tobybutlerphoto.com

Discover More
The Eight Best Farm-to-Table Stays in Scotland