Orkney and Hoy landscape photography workshop
A trip to the Orkney Islands last week was just the thing I needed after a busy few weeks at the desk. I craved the open landscape again and became overwhelmed by my desire to create the landscape photography that I so love. My solo trips inspire and motivate me to share with others the joy of creativity, in my workshops and in my retreats. The feeling just drew me away from my business work and once more propelled me out in my beloved van. I can’t go long without those mindful moments to capture and shape my creativity ahead of an upcoming workshop.
Orkney is a step away from the modern world: wild seascapes; dramatic, rugged cliffs; expanses of open countryside; cattle and birdlife that filter into your senses in the most gentle way. Even the towns in Orkney feel quaint and remote. But as ever, it’s the seascapes that capture me each time I visit.
I have been visiting Orkney for around five years now, although I have never been in the summer before. I tend to enjoy the wildness of the island in the winter months when the weather is more intense, the waves are larger and the storms come in more often. The light tends to improve as well then, as the winter works its way around. Unusually for me, when I’m in Orkney, I stay in Stromness in houses dotted along the pier, overlooking the water’s edge. But in the summer, this time, I just delighted at being able to walk in a t-shirt and hike up the cliffs and sit and watch the gulls swoop out and return to their nests. This time I spent about six hours at Marwick Head just soaking up the sunshine and watching the clear turquoise-blue waters crash around the rocks below me in the most dramatic way. The sheer colour of the water in Orkney is something that draws me, time and time again. I failed to spot any puffins on this occasion, but I find the gulls and the fulmars just as beautiful.
As an added bonus after all my recent work back home, I decided to continue on to the Island of Hoy where I’ve been meaning to visit for many years. Watching the hills, seeing The Old Man of Hoy on many occasions from the ferry, but never having visited, here was the perfect opportunity to make my acquaintance in person with this mystical land. My first time onto the island feels like I have stepped into a peaceful place with simply miles of nothingness, edged by an other-worldly beach with boulders and sand and dramatic cliffs, something that seems better placed in New Zealand maybe? Hoy didn’t disappoint - the opposite - I fell in love with another island. The rawness of the sheer emptiness and the feeling of being back to nature and cut off from the world, merely added to my powerful sense of spiritual ‘home’.
Ruminating over this place, my plan is to run many workshops over the coming years to this marvellous island. They will be landscape photography workshops intended to share my sense of wonder at this highly spiritual landscape of Orkney. However, in 2022 we do still have two places available for our March departure. If you can’t make it with us then, don’t worry, I will release further dates in the coming months!
The primary idea behind the workshop is to allow time to create and not to feel rushed. By slowing down, it is possible to develop a mindful photography practice. This is your time to savour, but I will be there to gently facilitate and guide you along the way.
A few details of the March trip to whet your appetite…
We will visit many of the beautiful and historical places of Orkney including some of the following locations:
- The tidal island of the Brough of Birsay
- Marwick Head RSPB reserve with breathtaking views along the coastline
- The Standing Stones of Stenness near neolithic monuments
- The Italian Chapel and the Scapa Flow wrecks
- The sea stacks, cliffs, and wild seas of Yesnaby
- Rackwick Bay on Hoy (if time and weather allows)
Plans in place for accommodation are:
Built in around 1880 as a herring and pork curing store, The Storehouse is a grade B listed building off Kirkwall’s historic stone-paved main street, close to St Magnus Cathedral. It is a wonderful renovation that oozes Orcadian history, mixing the old with the new to enable luxury and comfort for guests. The restaurant serves local Orkney produce from an open kitchen and is one of the most special places to eat in Orkney. I have negotiated a dinner, B&B rate included with the room cost, so we are able to head back to the restaurant in the evenings and all eat together : )
If you can make in March, we’d love to see you, or indeed on any of the upcoming workshops and retreats. I will post details on my website quitelandscapes.co.uk and, just as soon as you can make space to join us, I look forward to mindfully creating with you in the landscape of the wild…