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Islay Photography Tour (8-12 April, 2025)


Trip at a Glance


08 April 2025 - 12 April 2025


4 nights


Isle of Islay

Start / Finishes








  • Spend five days developing your photography skills with Colin Prior
  • Enjoy access to some of the finest photographic locations in the Hebrides
  • Both islands are a haven for wildlife and offer superb birdwatching opportunities
  • Four nights, single occupancy accommodation at the Port Charlotte Hotel
  • Breakfast, three-course dinner, and packed lunch
  • Transport to and from Glasgow Central Station
  • Tutorials and critique session with individual feedback

Four nights, single occupancy accommodation at the Port Charlotte Hotel. Situated in the village of Port Charlotte, the hotel enjoys expansive sea views across Loch Indaal and has an excellent à la carte menu which is included in the price. More information can be found at:

Travel Insurance,
Food aboard Calmac ferries,

Moderate - these tours involve straightforward hiking generally over good trails. Terrain underfoot is mainly on paths or hill trails which may be muddy in places. There may be a limited amount of uphill walking.

Tour Synopsis

Lying between the Scottish mainland and the coast of Ireland is the crescent-shaped island of Islay. Home to the Lord of the Isles for hundreds of years, its glimmering sea lochs like tiny oceans, with rocky headlands and bays, encapsulate the tireless spirit of the Atlantic. With its neighbouring islands of Colonsay and Jura, it forms the Islay group; a distinctive set of islands which share cultural, historical and geographic links.

Much of Islay is low-lying and fertile although it also has high moorland and hills, the highest of which is Beinn Bheigeir at 491 m. The variety of landscapes found in Islay is due to its underlying geological structure - hard quartzites form the rugged uplands while the lower lying, more fertile land is underlain by limestone and mica schists. There are extensive raised beach deposits within the bays and substantial areas of blown sand along coastal fringes.

South of Port Ellen, the Oa a is a wild and remote peninsula where an RSPB nature reserve is situated. The coastal cliffs tower 100 m over the often turbulent sea below and rise, at their highest point, to Beinn Mhòr at 202 m. Within the folds of cliff face are hidden bays, where tumbling waterfalls terminate the burns that run from inland lochs and peatland bogs. Golden eagle, peregrine falcon, choughs and linnets are regularly seen here.

At the opposite end of the island, RSPB Loch Gruinart, offers a temporary home for overwintering barnacle and white-fronted geese which co-habit the Gruinart Flats with lapwing, hen harrier, and corncrake. There is much for the photographer to discover in Islay.

There are nine whisky distilleries on Islay, with more underway, so you’ll never find yourself far from one of these iconic, white-washed buildings donned with bold lettering. Even if you’re not (yet) a lover of Islay whisky, there is a wide selection to sample from.

We are based at the family-run Port Charlotte Hotel located in the conservation village of Port Charlotte on the shore on Loch Indaal. It has a comfortable residents' lounge, dining room, a cosy public bar and patio area overlooking the bay, with direct access to a sandy beach.

The hotel is recommended by Michelin and Good Food Guides and is highly rated in the Best of Scotland Guide.  

The images used to promote this tour were captured by Colin on previous trips and are representative of the conditions which may or may not be encountered throughout its duration - in Scotland, one must be prepared for constant change.


Day 1

Day 1: Glasgow, Kennacraig, Islay. Colin will meet you within Glasgow Central Station at 09:00 at the Mobility Point which is centrally located and faces the information boards. After the group has met, we will drive to Kennacraig to board the Calmac Ferry to Islay which departs at 13:20, arriving at 15:25. We will continue our journey to Port Charlotte where we will check into the hotel and then depart for our first location.

Day 2

Day 2: Saligo Bay, Oa Peninsula, Lower Killeyan. If the forecast is favourable, an early start to capture sunrise at Saligo Bay where marram grass dunes overlook the Atlantic breakers. Following breakfast, we will drive to the Oa situated in the south of the island. The Oa peninsula towers above the sea with eroding, rocky cliffs, dramatic sea stacks, and hidden coves. With half the landmass run by the RSPB as a nature reserve, it’s known for its birdlife, particularly choughs, hen harriers, and golden eagles. The elevated sea cliffs afford great views in all directions – north to Eileanan Mora and Loch Indaal and east to Beinn Mhòr and Port an Eas. After lunch, we will head over to Lower Killeyan. Backed by cliffs, the bay forms an amphitheatre overlooking Loch Indaal where seals haul out on the skerries and sea stacks.

Day 3

Day 3: Sanaigmore Bay and Glean Tuath, and the Paps of Jura. This walk along Islay’s Atlantic Coast takes in some of the island’s finest bays as well as dramatic sea cliffs and rocky shores. On a sunny day the turquoise waters and white sands sparkle with reflected light, whilst on others the Atlantic swell breaks against the shoreline sending spume into the air. From the trig point at 128 m, great views can be had to Dun Bheolain, known locally as the 'Opera House' because of its resemblance to Sydney’s famous concert hall. In the afternoon, we will drive to a location which overlooks the Sound of Islay where we will attempt to shoot the Paps of Jura.

Day 4

Day 4: Rinns of Islay, Loch Gruinart, East Coast. With a favourable forecast, an easily accessible high point on the Rinns of Islay will allow us to shoot sunrise towards the Isles of Mull and Jura. Following breakfast, we will drive north towards Loch Gruinart, where white sand beaches are backed by an expansive tidal estuary, often seen in pastel hues of saffron, blue and turquoise. The Gruinart Flats are renowned for their concentrations of Greenland white-fronted and barnacle geese along with lapwing, hen harrier, and corncrake. After lunch, we will drive to Port Ellen and explore the east coast of the island and follow the Three Distilleries Pathway – the road follows the coastline, passing the distilleries of Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg, before reaching our destination at Claggain Bay. On our return journey we will detour into the courtyard at Ardbeg for coffee at the ‘Ardstream’ Trailer: a perfect way to end the day on Islay!

Day 5

Day 5: Port Askaig, Kennacraig and Glasgow. After checking out of the hotel, we will drive to Port Askaig and board the ferry which departs at 09:45 and arrives in Kennacraig at 11:55, which should put us comfortably back in Glasgow for 14:30 where the tour will conclude.

Essential Information

Lightweight boots or wellies often the terrain we cover is boggy and wellies are the best way to keep your feet dry.
Waterproof jacket and trousers
Hat for sun protection or warmth
Casual clothes for evening wear
Personal wash kit
Head torch
Midge net
Re-usable water bottle

The information below is intended simply as a guide to help you achieve the most enjoyment from this tour.

All brands of cameras and lenses do the same thing; they look outwardly into the world and record what they see on different sized sensors. What differentiates what they see is not the camera, but the person looking through the viewfinder. So, what will help you gain most from this tour is a familiarity of your own camera’s layout and menu structure. There is no shortage of tutorials on You Tube to aid you in this process and it is essential that you take the time to understand how to control the most salient features of camera.

Camera bags come in all shapes and sizes. It’s important that your bag can hold the equipment you wish to carry, comfortably, over uneven terrain and that your balance is not affected by its design, or lack of it. Backpacks distribute weight evenly between your shoulders and hips and are normally supplied with a rain cover.

Lenses are a personal choice. Many landscape photographers will choose to shoot with a 16-35 mm, 24-70 mm or a 24-105 mm lens. Shooting with zoom lenses makes a great deal of sense as it reduces the equivalent number of prime lenses that would otherwise, have to be carried. Many photographers compliment their wide-angle zooms with either a 70-200 mm or 100-400 mm lens. If you enjoy working within the landscape, a 90 mm or 100 mm Macro lens opens myriad possibilities.

Under certain circumstances, filters are indispensable. Graduated neutral density filters control contrast locally and come in a range densities and graduations. The dynamic range of modern sensors has mitigated the need to use filters on many occasions and accordingly, I carry only two – a 0.6 (2 stop) filter with a soft graduation and a polarising filter which I used judicially.

Despite, image stabilisation allowing the hand holding of cameras down to very low shutter speeds, there is still no substitute for a good tripod in landscape photography. The emphasis should be on a relatively lightweight model which is easy to carry with one caveat; that it is more vulnerable in strong winds. One important factor when considering a tripod is that you can work comfortably with your camera at eye-level – many ‘travel tripods’ reach their maximum height well below this height and are stressful to use. Carbon fibre tripods are lighter and more expensive than those made from aluminium but do the same job.

Backup and storage – always a good idea to have your images in more than one place. It’s a good idea to bring your laptop onto which you can back up but also to select your best images for the critique session at the end of the tour.

Wet weather protection for your camera – this isn’t essential, however most digital camera don’t like moisture that much and it makes sense if you have some sort of cover – if it was raining heavily, it is unlikely that we would be photographing for long, however, a random shower or constant light drizzle can sometimes be problematic. Whilst there are specialist solutions available, having a polythene bag to hand would do the job.

Lens cloth – a lens cloth is useful for removing rain or sea spray if it finds its way onto a lens.

A remote release is crucial to ensure sharp images, either cable, Bluetooth or App.

Spare batteries – make sure that you don’t run out of juice.

To confirm your booking, you are required to pay a non-refundable deposit of 25% of the tour price. Once we receive your deposit, the contract between us will become binding and covers everyone you are booking on behalf of. After this, we will send you an invoice for the balance and advise you of the date for payment of the same. Brochure and website prices are quoted in UK Sterling. Payment will be accepted by:
Maestro, Visa Electron, Visa Debit and Solo debit cards or Visa/Mastercard/American Express credit cards.
Bank Transfer (details available from our office).

For our full Booking Conditions can be found here: Here

To confirm your booking, you are required to pay a non-refundable deposit of 25% of the tour price. Once we receive your deposit, the contract between us will become binding and covers everyone you are booking on behalf of. After this, we will send you an invoice for the balance and advise you of the date for payment of the same. Brochure and website prices are quoted in UK Sterling. Payment will be accepted by:
Maestro, Visa Electron, Visa Debit and Solo debit cards or Visa/Mastercard/American Express credit cards.
Bank Transfer (details available from our office).

For our full Booking Conditions can be found here:

We strenuously recommend that you take out a travel insurance policy as soon as you have booked your trip with us.

A travel insurance policy protects you and your holiday arrangements from the unexpected before and during your trip. It is your responsibility to make sure you have adequate cover, and we are not able to offer advice on insurance. However, we recommend your policy should include cover for emergency medical costs, cancellation or curtailment of your trip, personal belongings/baggage and personal liability:

In the event of emergency rescue and medical care and/or repatriation from a trip due to injury or medical emergency, any evacuation and medical costs will be borne by the client.
If you need to cancel your trip with us, then you may lose some or all the money you have paid.All luggage and personal equipment are, always, at your own risk. We will not be responsible whatsoever for any loss, damage to your luggage and/or personal equipment.

Some options for Travel Insurance Providers include:
Campbell Irvine Direct
Journeyman Insurance Services

However, we recommend you do your own research to find the best provider for you.

Park Inn by Radisson
Glasgow City Centre
139-141 West George Street
Glasgow G2 2JJ
0141 221 1211

Motel One
78-82 Oswald Street
G1 4PL
0141 468 0450

Grand Central Hotel 4-Star Hotel
99 Gordon St
G1 3SF
0141 240 3700

Radisson Blu Hotel,
301 Argyle Street
G2 8DL
0141 204 3333

Premier Inn
Glasgow City Centre (Argyle Street)
377 Argyle Street Glasgow
G2 8LL
0333 777 7292

Millennium Hotel Glasgow
George Square
Glasgow G2 1DS
0141 332 6711

Jurys Inn Glasgow Hotel
80 Jamaica Street
G1 4QG
0141 314 4800

Premier Inn Inverness
19-21 Huntly Street
Tel: 0871 527 9302

Premier Inn Inverness
Millburn Road
Tel: 0871 527 8544

Eildon Guest House
29 Old Edinburgh Road
Tel: 01463 231969

Dionard Guest House
4 Star
39 Old Edinburgh Road
Tel: 01463 233557

Glenmoriston Town House Hotel
4 Star Luxury Hotel
Ness Bank
Tel: 01463 223 777

Lynver Guest House
4 Star
30 Southside Road

Colin will meet you within Glasgow Central Station at 09:00 at the small glass waiting room which is centrally located and faces the information boards. The vehicles will be parked less than a five-minute walk away. On the final day, we will return you to Glasgow Central Station at 14:30.

Coronavirus - COVID-19

We continue to run tours in a way that is true to our values, respecting each of you as individual travellers, whilst respecting the communities that we are visiting.

Please note that new bookings will only be accepted on the provision that if the trip is unable to go ahead due to Covid 19 restrictions and the trip suspended, payments will be held indefinitely and can be put towards any future workshop.

Traveller responsibility

1. We request that all travellers bring a minimum of 2 reusable masks.
2. That clients declare if they feel they that they may have COVID-19 symptoms.
3. That you do not travel if you feel unwell or are symptomatic before the trip.
4. That you follow all guidelines and procedures set out by us and any suppliers we use.

The current situation in the UK

To stay informed, we recommend you visit the UK Government website as well as the Scottish Government site.

Travel advisories and inbound health measures
If you are travelling from outside the UK then you must review the contents of this section of the Scottish Government guidance before considering travel to Scotland.

Travel advice for travellers visiting the UK from common locations

United States   |   Canada   |   Australia

We recommend you check your own government advice with regards to travel to the UK and Scotland.

Pre-trip information
Please take extra care to read through any pre-trip information you are sent, paying particular attention to the COVID-19 details and requirements, such as bringing your own face masks, and being aware of any rules which apply in Scotland which may be different to rules where you live.

Please also check with your airline/train company about any specific requirements they may have in place for your journey to Scotland. If you’re informed, then you’ll be able to raise any questions with us ahead of your trip, which of course we’ll be delighted to help with.