Tory is a mythological place, the most remote of Ireland's inhabited islands, little more than a peeble if seen from the Donegal's coasts, named to be the place of Balor of the evil eye, for someone nothing less than the celtic god of darkness, a cyclops who could kill with a glance from his single eyea
You'll find a dangerous sea to pass, often with high waves, strong winds and little visibility (during my visit a two-day stop for the boat, and it was summer), but once approached, Tory shows its personality.
A warm welcome from the king itself (Mr. Patsi Dan MacRuaidhrì), an accordion or fiddle playing, two windy roads to take, or a fresh beer to drink near the pier.
West town hosts a circular bell tower, and a rare ancient Tau cross (12th century), and the choice between two directions: more west, or east.
One road leads to the west: a lake, the shores where seals are often at play, and the impressive white-striped lighthouse, built between 1828 and 1832, surrounded by the boudary wall.
A refreshing place often beated by screaming winds, with views over Errigal mountain, on the distant inland of Donegal.
The other road leads to the only shop and to East Town (a little group of white houses), after which it stops, and Balor' Kingdom begins.
A path leads to the high cliffs, where once was Balor's stone fort (Dun Bahaloir)and its prison (basically a steep rock from which his enemies were thown into the sea), and to "the big key". That's one of the most impressive cliffs I've seen, with prominent rocky pinnacles known as Balor's soldiers.
When I got there, it was shining in the blue sky after a storm, not so easy to forget, as it will be impossible to forget this little but great world apart.
Iona, the ancient sacred Island, lies very close to the west coast of Mull, yet it's a dimension apart.
It is an Island of wind and light, something untouchable pervades it.
Walk inland, on the moor up to the Hills, and look from there at the Abbey. Such a marvellous human creation lies in the wilderness of the rugged hebridean coasts. From there, it seems hidden like a secret.
The name Iona comes from the isle of Colm Cille (Saint Columba), here's the birthplace of christianity in Scotland, due to the mythical figure of that Irish priest, prince and saint.
The Abbey was built in 1200 AD where the ancient monastery stood, and the nearby St. Oran's chapel found its birth in the place where 48 Kings of Scotland and Norway had their resting place. Hear the whispers, the shadows, wander in silence and meditation; learn.
the Island of Mull of the inner hebrides, a wide place of mountains and sea, home to the White tailed sea eagles, has got great castles (Duart upon all), a delicious township (the colourful Tobermory), standing stones, a wild coast (expecially along the Ross of Mull) and it's, of course, the gateway to the sacred Island of Iona.
Fair Isle is a true gem.
Lying in the ocean between Orkneys and Shetland, it's reachable from Shetland by a little airplane (from Tingwall) or by boat (the Sea Shepard).
Plenty of wildlife, birds from all over the world - never saw puffins so close - seals, a world-known bird observatory, and above all a living community of 65 (more or less) people pride of the land and joyful to share their beautiful world. A richness for the photographers and the walkers, perhalps the best island I've seen.
Go there, stay at the South Lighthouse, or at Tommy's B&B (the Auld Haa Guest House), and for a hot cup of tea go to the Bird's Observatory. You'll come back.
Shetland Islands show a deep beauty,
these are the most scenographic islands I've seen.
Nature is the true owner of all: strong winds lead to cloudless skies, heavy fog or million of clouds painted in the wide skies.
Summer dim can make You go out and wander during the night, giving You a strange and beautiful sensation, to be there alone, walking in the beauty, part of that beauty.
More than a lot of wildlife including the little ponies, wild rabbits, seals everywhere, dolphins, orcas, gannets, razorbills, shags, puffins, arctic terns (here called "geeks"), great skuas (here called "bonxies": they can "dive-bomb" You!) and more.
The Norse heritage is strong here, as well as the pride of the friendly Shetlanders fot their land.
A must for the island's lovers. At least, my must.
Orkneys are more than 70 islands, in most of them people are more farmers and breeders than fishermen. There's a sense of deep tranquillity here, nearly mystic, expecially near to the prehistoric evidences that are, more or less, everywhere on Mainland. Ashtonishing menhirs at the ring of Brodgar, as You can see from the images...some spectacular spots include Yesnaby's cliffs, the brough of Birsay, and Mull head.
Here's the Queen o'the Isles, Westray lies North from Orkney Mainland, a beauty to explore.
The best place in Orkneys to see Puffins (Castle O'Brian), the best of the Orkneys' lighthouse (the gorgeous Noup Head Lighthouse), and not to mention last ... the best fish and chips in the UK (at the PIerowall Hotel. ps. it's true). Add a peaceful township (Pierowall) with an ancient castle, rich neolithic evidences (here was found the Westray Wife), a nearby lovely Island with a great nature reserve (Papa Westray) and You'll have the best Island to visit of all the Orkneys.
Lewis is the biggest of the Western Islands, a magic land made by wind, water, stones and the everchanging light of the sky.
Here is indeed "four sesons in a day"!ike the locals say.
The best part is at the extreme north, where You can find within walking distance: Port of Ness (delightful tiny village and port), the Butt of Lewis (lighthouse and cliffs), and Eoropie (wide sandy beach and dunes).
To stay in this zone, go to Edna and Angus MacLeod: exquisite ospitality (www.lochbeag.co.uk).
Other wondeful beaches on the west side (Dalbeg, Uig sands, the beach at the extreme end of Bernera island) and on the east side (Tolsta beach).
Cliffs at Garannan, with a gorgeous walking trail alond (almost) the entire west coast.
... and not to forget the psychedelic part of Lewis, I mean a journey back in time with the Callanish stones' circles.
The island is a little unerestimated by the "official" tourists (.. that's not bad indeed...) and You can stay in deep contact with nature and peace.
Island of contast, infinite sands, blue water, grey stones, a paradise for the walkers.
Harris, which is the southern part of Lewis, is slightly different and shows a true beauty to the photographer's eye. The west side is a succession of infinite beaches where You can indeed loose Yourself between the crying of the wind and the crashing of the waves. Typical is the deep blue and turquoise of the sea.
At the extreme south You'll find a gem: the medioeval Rodel Church (St. Clement) , and also the Hotel there, in a natural harbour that's one the best I've seen.
The east side is a wild and rocky land, the so called Golden Road ('cause it costed a lot...) will take You to the remote village of Huisinis with its beach.
Linked to Harris by a bridge, Scalpay is and island of rocks and moorland, home to a fishing community and the ancient Eilean Glas Lighthouse.
The island was owned by Mr. Fred Taylor as he heredited it from his father, until he recently gave it back to the 322 residents as a gift. Now the residents are very active in trying to keep the island alive, there is a post office, a delicious tea-room, plans to bring the lighthouse back to its ancient splendour, so go visit them!
An island with a lot of faces, as it has mountains, iconic lighthouses (Neist Point above all), few but idyllic sandy beaches (the Coral beach above all), castles (Dunvegan above all), a bustling maintown (the beautiful Portree), charming micro-villages (del delightful Stein above all).
All too perfect? Perhalps... does not seem to have the crispy wilderness of the Outer Hebrides, or the wild charm You'll find in the Shetland, and in full summer could be a little more touristic than You could wish.
But: it is a truly photographic island and - I think - it deserves a second visit to be appreciated a little out of season and in its less famous places, to show the beauty of its soul.
These incredible lands may seem absurd at a first glance (see the aerial image): endless lakes, bays, beaches, more water than land.
Visiting the Uists can be a deep and rich experience, it's Hebridean scenery in its rough side, a very moody (and sometimes muddy) Island, divided into North Uist, Grimsay, Benbecula, South Uist, all linked by tiny causeways.
Some of the greatest and widest beaches of all the Scottish islands (the west side of South Uist is almost an endless pattern of sand and dunes), a shark-shape mountain (Eaval), lot of ancient Crofts, often hidden between clouds and mist, as You can see from my photographs.
In these islands lived Angus McPhee, the so called Weaver of Grass, read his emoitional lifestory, and see some of his weird but fascinating works at the folk museum in South Uist.
the hills called "Langhe" in the northwest of Italy, are included in the Unesco world heritage list, for their unique landcapes, cradle of some of the most exquisite wines like barolo, barbaresco, nebbiolo. I got interested in their winter essence and caught the little villages and castles while still sleeping or kissing the first sun and caressing the first mists... so...the dreaming Hills.