If a picture truly paints a thousand words, the landscapes of the Scottish Highlands would fill all 4,224 pages of Harry Potter (much of which was filmed here). Blessed with quite simply the most sensational landscapes in Britain, Scotland’s rugged northern Highlands lend themselves to phenomenal landscape photography… even under the darkest of brooding skies. In fact, Scotland’s famously fickle weather is a bonus: Within the space of one hour, it’s possible to shoot the same location under gorgeous blue skies, when roiled by bruising clouds, and gilded in shafts of golden sunlight. Plus, off the western coast is the Isle of Skye, considered among the most dramatically picturesque places in all Britain, with its breathtaking physical formations and elemental battered landscapes of epic grandeur.

Our itinerary spans the full range. Enchanting waterfalls… Huge soaring sea stacks… Surging peninsulas… Improbably white-sand beaches… Wind-ruffled lochans and moors carpeted in thistles and heather… And hauntingly beautiful glacier-scoured mountains. Plus, this remote region is replete with wildlife: our chance to photograph auks, eagles, and puffins; mammals from pine marten to deer; plus otter, porpoise, harbor seals, and giant basking sharks, all of which frequent the waters.

We’ll visit in early October when the autumn colors are at their most spectacular. As travel should expand the mind, provide a learning experience, and inspire an appreciation for local culture, we won’t forget the human component: The living culture that defines this magnificent region… from weathered fishermen to the shepherds herding their flocks with sheepdogs. Plus, we’ll sample a wee dram or two, get to learn about malt whisky, and photograph at the Talisker Distillery on the Isle of Skye. Other highlights viewing the Jacobite Stream Train (aka Hogwart’s Express) thundering across the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct… Glencoe… ancient Neolithic standing stones… traditional earth-roofed croft houses… Urquhart Castle… Loch Ness… plus Edinburgh.

Trip leader, Christopher P. Baker, a native Brit, is editor of the National Geographic Traveler Scotland guidebook and has written and photographed widely about Scotland for several publications. He frequently visits his sister and cousin, both of whom live in the Scottish Highlands.

We hope you’ll join us and experience the mystical appeal of this superbly photogenic and immensely soul-satisfying part of the world.

Day 1: Oct 19Participants arrive and settle into our hotel in Edinburgh. Meet with Christopher in the evening for orientation, then a welcome dinner. Overnight: EDINBURGH

Day 2: Oct 20 Depart Edinburgh this morning via exquisite Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park with a stop at the Falls of Dochart—our first chance to practice long exposures to capture the cascades with a milky soft effect. Time permitting, we might include a stop to photograph Kilchurn Castle ruins. We continue via Glencoe, one of the most spectacular glens in Scotland and a setting for films from Harry Potter to the James Bond movie Skyfall. We’ll photograph at the iconic Black Rock Cottage and Lagangarbh Hut, ending with sunset at The Three Sisters viewpoint before arriving in Fort William. Overnight: FORT WILLIAM

Day 3: Oct 21 This morning we journey via Corpach, where we’ll stop to photograph Scotland’s most photogenic shipwreck–the beached ‘Old Boat of Caol’ fishing boat–against a sublime backdrop. We then continue to the Glenfinnan Viaduct—a fantastic 21-arch curving bridge—in time to photograph the Jacobite steam train (the famous ‘Hogwarts Express’ of Harry Potter fame) puffing across the viaduct at approximately 11 am. [NOTE: The Jacobite steam train stops operating in late October, typically the last week; no guarantee can be made for 2023.] Arriving at Mallaig midday in time for lunch, we then take the 1:30 pm ferry to Armadale, on the Isle of Skye. Our first stop will be to photograph the Ornsay Lighthouse (with a magnificent mountain backdrop), before heading to nearby Eilaen Donan Castle, perhaps the most photogenic (and most photographed) castle in Britain thanks to its enviable location on an isle in Loch Duich. We’ll linger as long as feasible to take advantage of changing moods during sunset and twilight. Overnight: ISLE OF SKYE

Day 4: Oct 22 We’ll start the day at one of the world’s most impressive landscapes—The Quiraing, where we will shoot the first light hitting the many hills and ridges. We’ll then explore the western part of the Isle of Skye, with a traditional sheepskin tannery in Waternish, plus such iconic locations as Neist Point lighthouse and the waterfalls and dramatic mountain backdrop at Sligachan, perhaps with time to also photograph the famous old stone bridge and sensational backdrop for sunset. Overnight: ISLE OF SKYE

Day 5: Oct 23For those with the stamina to make the hike, this morning starts with a dawn shoot at the world-famous Old Man of Storr. This will be a very early start, but will be more than worth the effort as dawn’s light illuminates this incredible volcanic formation and adjoining pinnacles. Arriving at the foot of these massive basalt spires, we’ll hike for about one mile uphill to reach our favored viewpoint. Weather permitting, expect some of the most sensational images of the trip. [NOTE: Clients for whom the hike poses a physical challenge will be offered an alternative venue, perhaps including Kilt Rock waterfall or a similar venue.] We’ll then rendezvous for portrait sessions with a pipe band leader and a dancer in traditional Scottish attire. Alternatively, we may shoot the sunset from right behind our hotel, where there are amazing views over the bay, with a picturesque church on a hill. Overnight: ISLE OF SKYE

Day 6: Oct 24 This morning we’ll be up early for sunrise, perhaps at nearby Fairy Glen, just a few minutes drive from our hotel, where we’ll breakfast before check out to board our 9:40 am ferry from Uig to the Outer Hebrides. Arriving at Tarbert, on the Isle of Harris, we’ll enjoy a private tour of the Isle of Harris Distillery… then drive the short distance via Luskentyre—arguably the most beautiful beach in Britain–and other beaches with sands the color of Valspar Perfection. We’ll also photograph the medieval St. Clement’s Church, at the tip of the island before heading to the Northton salt marshes for sunset. Overnight: TRADITIONAL HUNTING LODGE, ISLE OF HARRIS & LEWIS (SHARED BATHROOMS)

Day 7: Oct 25 An early start today for sunrise at the Callanish Standing Stones, one of the finest examples of Neolithic standing stones in Britain: This haunting complex dates back 5,000 years and is a mini-Stonehenge without the crowds. We’ll then have breakfast before we enjoy a day of shooting based on light and weather conditions, plus our local guides’ recommendations (perhaps the picturesque little fishing hamlet of Crosbost, or Eilean Glas Lighthouse) as we react to the ever-changing Hebridean Light. We plan to end our day with a sunset shoot at the Mangersta Sea Stacks, one of Scotland’s most dramatic scenic venues. Overnight: TRADITIONAL HUNTING LODGE, ISLE OF HARRIS & LEWIS (SHARED BATHROOMS)

Day 8: Oct 26Following breakfast, we’ll head to the north of Lewis and visit the well-preserved Iron Age fort of Dun Carloway Broch before photographing at Gearrannan Blackhouse village, a photogenic conclave of traditional turf-roofed Hebridean houses set above a gorgeous white-sand beach. Harris Tweed, the world’s most luxurious wool fabric, is exclusively hand-woven on this island and is still made inside Crofters’ homes and small specialist studios. We’ll make the short drive from Gearrannan to the nearby hamlet of Shawbost to photograph a crofter at work on a traditional loom. We’ll end with a sunset shoot at Stack O’Phris or Butt of Lewis Lighthouse, or drive along the Hunishish Peninsula if the conditions are suitable. Overnight: TRADITIONAL HUNTING LODGE, ISLE OF HARRIS & LEWIS (SHARED BATHROOMS)

Day 9: Oct 27 The morning we’ll photograph a gamekeeper in full stalking gear with his shotgun and retriever hounds before heading to the port town of Stornoway. After lunch here, we’ll board our 2 pm ferry to the lovely fishing village of Ullapool, overlooking Loch Broom. Arriving around sunset, we’ll check into our hotel and freshen up before dinner at a nearby gourmet restaurant with Chris’s sister and brother-in-law, who live nearby. Overnight: ULLAPOOL

Day 10: Oct 28This morning we’ll photograph a sheepherder and sheepdogs working with sheep. We’ll then lunch at the lovely lochside cottage of Chris’ sister and brother-in-law, with time to hike, fish, sea-kayak, or simply relax. Afterward, we may make a late afternoon scenic drive around Stac Pollaic–a dramatic formation offering splendid vistas. Overnight: ULLAPOOL

Day 11: Oct 29 Today we drive across the Scottish Highlands via Glen Glasgarnoch to Glen Affric—considered a pinnacle of the Caledonian fall colors and one of Scotland’s most iconic settings from the Glen Affric Viewpoint. We’ll then continue the short distance to Drumnadrochit and Urquhart Castle, on the banks of Loch Ness. Chris’ cousin Mark–a professional guide at Urquhart Castle–will give us a personal, privileged tour before we continue the short distance to Inverness! Overnight: INVERNESS

Day 12: Oct 30Today we head back to Edinburgh. If our hoped-for shepherd shoot in Ullapool doesn’t materialize, we’ll journey to Leanach Farm for a sheepdog herding experience and portraiture with Ian Mackay. We then continue via Cairngorms National Park, with time to photograph the lovely waterfall and autumnal foliage at The Hermitage before arriving Edinburgh. We close our tour with a slide show of everyone’s favorite images followed by our farewell dinner. Overnight: EDINBURGH.

Day 13: Oct 31 Depart for home.