This wonderful and much photographed beach is on the shores of Loch Scavaig toward the end of the Strathaird peninsula on the west coast of the Isle of Skye in the Scottish Highlands. The views over the loch toward the Black Cuillins is rightly considered one of the Scottish classics and really offers great opportunities whatever the weather.
With that in mind, despite it’s remoteness it draws in many photographers and finding a spot that is free can be a bit of a struggle. Obviously the Summer months draw in the most who can be rewarded with some stunning sunsets, however, the Autumn and Winter provide great opportunities for crashing waves and dramatic skies. Most are content with a shot from the pier which serves as a boarding point for the 2 boats that make the regular crossing to Loch Coruisk said to be one of the wildest places in the Highlands. This leaves the rocky, and at times slippery beach, generally free to explore.
Lets look further at what the beaches have to offer
- Wonderful backdrops with the Cuillins and often dramatic weather
- Various ‘middle ground’ rock subjects and fishing craft
- Some great sunsets and sunrises
- A variety of rock formations and geological features
- Adjacent car parking
- Regular bus services from Broadford
Map of the Area
Special Photographic Features or Notes
The beach can be slippery and as you move further North the rocky coastline gives way to slab formations and rising cliffs. A derelict building can provide nice foreground interest just round the headland from the jetty but be aware of the tides as you make your way round…it can be a bit of a scramble. The nicest shots are just before the headland with fascinating rock formations formed over thousands of years
Elgol has a variety of rock formations when the tides are right and act as great foreground interest and can be used as effective lead in lines. The odd house on the hills acts to accentuate the remoteness of the area.
Dawn and Dusk
Often on a visit to Elgol you’ll find yourself amongst a small group of enthusiasts sitting in the car (or sheltering in the toilets up the hill) waiting for the right sunrise/sunset and a break in weather. More often than not, it’s worth it. On long exposures the crashing waves become silvery smooth against the hardness of the rocks.
The Cliff Path
The cliff path to Sligachan runs along adjacent to the beach and rightly warns that you are entering a remote and potentially dangerous area so be well equipped if you plan on the whole route, however, up there it’s generally free of other photographers and offers a different perspective on the classic views but bear in mind it can take the full brunt of the Atlantic weather!
Night photography is possible along the beach with care and there’s no light pollution. Various harbour lights can add reflections and looking towards the Cuillins on a clear night you can get some beautiful soft waters with star trails over the horizon.
There are several ways of getting to Skye. From Fort William and Glasgow you have the option of travelling to Mallaig and getting the Calmac Ferry or sticking to the road and heading to Kyle of Lochalsh as you would from the East side and Inverness and crossing via the Skye bridge (which is now toll free). Head North and on reaching Broadford head south west along a single track road which weaves it’s way past Loch Slapin in the shadows of Bla Bheinn. Carry on to the small village of Elgol and the harbour is well signposted where there is a car park on the shore front.
- A tripod for those long exposures and smooth waves
- ND Grad Filters
- A wide angle lens
- Appropriate footwear for wet slippery surfaces
- Warm and waterproof clothing, the weather can be very unpredictable!
On the way to Elgol you might want to try some shots from nearby Kirkibost with Bla Bheinn in the background
and the graveyard at strathaird
For more travel information and accommodation advice on Skye and the Highlands of Scotland click here.