Refresh your spirit and choose the remotest, wildest and least-inhabited corner of the British Isles for your sketching/painting holiday in Scotland, amidst the astonishing scenery of Assynt and Coigach.
IntroductionWindswept WildernessField of the yellow haired boyYour sketching dayAre these holidays for me?How to book
scotland-intro - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Scotland
The far Northwest – further than most people have ever heard of, let alone visited – is one of the last true wilderness regions in Europe. Now with global ‘Geopark’ status, these rocks are believed to be the oldest in the world and looking at the landscape, it is easy to imagine the scene unchanged since the dawn of time. Yet this ancient, primeval land, where golden eagles soar above heather-clad mountains, has seen human habitation since Man first colonised these isles. The remains of their cottages, byres and much earlier “brochs” can be seen in the remotest corners, firing the imagination with images of a simple, yet harsh life living off the land which at first glance appears so empty, although it has a rich and diverse ecology.

In pockets of original Caledonian forest, rare mammals such as the Scottish wildcat and pine marten maintain their final stronghold, while the shoreline is home to families of seals, often seen clumsily hoisting themselves onto rocks for a spot of sunbathing or fixing their big, brown eyes on the fishing boats in Lochinver harbour. The elusive otter, now on the increase, is notoriously difficult to spot although the locals will tell you you’re almost sure of a sighting on a summer evening as they frolic playfully amongst the rocks of the river Inver.

Culkein - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Scotland

While the area is steeped in history and the proud locals guard their culture and traditions, a painting holiday to this region is mostly about the incredible landscape: seeing it, smelling it, feeling it.

My Scottish programmes run from Lochinver in Sutherland and Achilitibuie, Ross-shire. These small villages are 36 miles and 26 miles north of Ullapool. Just 18 miles apart via the ‘Wee Mad Road’, public transport is scant in this area so even if you bring a car (strongly recommended) you should base yourself in the appropriate village to join the holiday.

You may decide to tie in a sketching week with time exploring further afield, or to bring along a non-painting partner. The area is a magnet to those keen on hill walking, climbing and fishing as well as simply relaxing in a peaceful environment with a few good books!

The two Scottish itineraries can also be combined to form a thorough, 2 week exploration of this unique region and I am always happy to advise on accommodation options.

In addition to these itineraries, sketching day trips and painting workshops are sometimes available. Please get in touch to enquire about this possibility.

Many people have told me that they had never really ‘seen’ the landscape so completely as when they started to paint it, and that it has changed their whole way of looking. See the Northwest Highlands in a new light, in all its windswept, majestic, breathtaking glory, where the city seems a million miles away and Nature always has the final say.

scotland-windswept_wilderness - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Scotland
  • Next Trip(s): June 3rd 2018, June 2019, August 2019 (please enquire for exact dates)
  • Duration: 6 days from Lochinver
  • Medium: Watercolours and drawing materials
  • Price: £380 per person (please enquire if you would like to include an accommodation package for this holiday.)

This small corner of Scotland is home to an almost endless array of stunning natural sights and is the perfect destination for anyone who loves raw nature in all its moods, and enjoys remote isolation.

capturing-the-scene - Sketching & Painting Holidays in ScotlandAlthough we are not moving from place to place for where we sleep, I have classed this as a ‘Journey’ rather than a ‘Break’ due to the full and active nature of the itinerary. Thus it will suit people with an adventurous spirit keen to see and experience everything that is unique, surprising and beautiful in this incredible area, and capture it in a sketchbook.

With an impossibly beautiful sight around every corner, choosing becomes very difficult. I have tried to give as comprehensive an overview as possible for the short time we have, taking in the best of the iconic views as well as some hidden gems well off the beaten track. In this vast landscape with its ever-changing light, the same mountain will look different each day. Understanding this, the itinerary is busy, visiting specially selected viewpoints as well as including some classic short walks , with the option of further exploration.

Immersion in this landscape no matter what the weather, with nothing but the sound of birds overhead and the smell of bog myrtle under your feet, is simply soul-cleansing.
Highlights:
Up close and personal with the most indescribable landscapes you’ve ever seen; exhilarating wilderness walks; learn to sketch quickly in fast-changing light; wide white sands and impressive sea stacks at Balnakeil and the mighty Suilven from all angles.

(The following itinerary is subject to ‘shuffle’, and is weather-dependent. Wet weather contingencies will be made) Please ask for a more detailed itinerary!

  • Day 1: Walking and sketching at ‘Boat Bay’ within the Inverpolly Nature Reserve
  • Day 2: Three perfect beaches; one waterfall; the incredible ’Split Rock’ and the matchless lineup of the Assynt and Coigach peaks. Sketching and strolling along the beaches
  • Day 3: River and woodland scenes closer to home; a pretty circular walk and the definitive view of Lochinver village.
  • Day 4: Sweeping sands and sea stacks at Balnakeil as we venture north towards Cape Wrath.
  • Day 5: Walk to the Kirkaig Falls and beyond with a superb view of Suilven.
  • Day 6: Pine-studded Loch Assynt, Ardvreck castle and a prefect hidden picnic spot. Early evening drink at a lovely local hotel with imagnificent view over Lochinver, for a fitting end to a fun week.

The price for this trip includes:

Cul-Mor - Sketching & Painting Holidays in ScotlandEscorted travel to exceptionally scenic, sometimes hidden sketching spots and short walks; expert guidance with your sketching as and when required, and regular progress reviews; packed lunches as specified in the itinerary and a visit to the renowned Pie Shop; chocolate blowout at Cocoa Mountain; final review with complimentary drink on the last evening and Art Pack containing the sketching materials you will need for the trip and beyond.
The price does NOT include:

Accommodation (unless you have included an accommodation package); transport to Lochinver, or while on trip except by your own vehicles as arranged; meals except lunches as stated in itinerary (and breakfast with accommodation package); optional/extra drinks or snacks.

Important note:

As this is a remote area with little or no public transport to the less accessible locations we’ll be visiting, cars are ESSENTIAL. We will be using one or two cars every day, and the trip can not run without this. In wet weather we might also be painting from the car. You will need to bring yours (or hire one, if flying to Inverness) and be happy to take passengers! We’ll operate a car-sharing rotation scheme and all chip in for petrol so hopefully no-one will be lumbered with all the driving, however pleasurable it is on these quiet, scenic roads!
If a non-driver would like to join the trip this is fine, as long as there are enough cars to take us all to our sketching destinations (based on 4 people in each car). This will be advised on booking and a small contribution towards fuel costs will be required.

Enquire Now

  • Next Trip(s): May 2019, August 2019 (please enquire for exact dates)
  • Duration: 6 days
  • Start/Finish: Achiltibuie, Ross-shire
  • Medium: Watercolours and drawing materials
  • Price: £450 per person (please enquire if you would like to include an accommodation package for this holiday.)

The ‘field of the yellow haired boy’, from the Gaelic ‘Achilitibuie’, is a scattering of crofts, within a straggle of settlements hugging the salt-sprayed coastline. Strewn across an often tumultuous, occasionally docile sea are more than a dozen islands: Some no more than rocks, some covered in pink ‘thrift’, others concealing caves, arches and blowholes, these are the famed ‘Summer Isles’, a magical place where gulls wheel and shags line the rocks with their drying wings spread wide.

Like neighbouring Assynt, this land has an ancient, complex geology and a sense of true isolation. At the very end of a long, twisting single-track road, anyone who comes here does so on purpose.

For a painter, the chance to combine island-studded seascapes with high peaks in one view is irresistible; add a strong sense of history and dramatic, fleeting light to the mix and you have one of the world’s top sketching destinations.

Highlights:
Matchless beauty of the Summer Isles; far-reaching views across Loch Broom and Ennard Bay; empty, pink sand beaches and the iconic Stac Pollaidh

(The following itinerary is subject to ‘shuffle’, and is weather-dependent. Wet weather contingencies will be made) Please ask for a more detailed itinerary!

  • Day 1: Start the week on one of Scotland’s most spectacular beaches. Flanked by grassy dunes, Achnahaird’s wide, pink sands are overlooked by the area’s most distinctive peaks.
  • Day 2: At the opposite end of the village, we’ll discover thundering waterfalls and an iron age ‘broch’
  • Day 3: The most distinctive view of the Summer Isles and a sweeping panorama of Achiltibuie village, the Ben Mhor group and across Loch Broom to the Torridons.
  • Day 4: Sketching the magnificent Stac Pollaidh and Cul Mor, followed by a pretty loch beach
  • Day 5: A visit to Old Dornie Harbour to sketch boats, creels and all things fishy, after a stroll around the headland with a wonderful view of the islands.
  • Day 6: A truly spectacular view towards Suilven and the Assynt giants from the hauntingly desolate Garvie Bay.

The price for this trip includes:

Daily transport to and from scenic spots (on a car-sharing basis); all lunches (either picnic or in local cafes); all painting materials needed for the trip; expert tuition/guidance as required

The price does NOT include:

Transport to and from Achiltibuie; accommodation (I will be happy to advise on where to stay); meals, apart from lunches; drinks or snacks

Important note:

As this is a remote area with little or no public transport to the less accessible locations we’ll be visiting, cars are ESSENTIAL. We will be using one or two cars every day, and the trip can not run without this. In wet weather we might also be painting from the car. You will need to bring yours (or hire one, if flying to Inverness) and be happy to take passengers! We’ll operate a car-sharing rotation scheme and all chip in for petrol so hopefully no-one will be lumbered with all the driving, however pleasurable it is on these quiet, scenic roads!
If a non-driver would like to join the trip this is fine, as long as there are enough cars to take us all to our sketching destinations (based on 4 people in each car). This will be advised on booking and a small contribution towards fuel costs will be required.

Enquire Now
your-sketching-day - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Scotland
On the ‘Windswept Wilderness ‘journey’, we’ll try to set off quite early most days as there is much to see. We’ll take a packed lunch to maximise our time in the location and sometimes we’ll be far from a settlement. Each day there will be at least two exceptional viewpoints and we’ll be sketching quite quickly, aiming to capture and experience as much of the region as possible. In addition there will be a short but spectacular walk, sometimes with the option of a longer one in place of some sketching, especially if we have a wet or windy day.

We don’t need to drive too far in this area to see spectacular sights. Yet we do need transport. Each morning we’ll decide on the driver/s for the day; if it’s cold or damp we might do some sketching from the car and the itinerary is built around this possibility. There are no special ‘tasks’ on this trip as there are on the other ‘Journeys’ as we have less time in each place. However I’ll be on hand at all times to give personal advice when needed.

We’ll aim to arrive back in Lochinver by late afternoon, with a couple of longer days. Timings and stops will be ultimately determined by the interests and needs of the group. Leaving your evenings free to do as you please and perhaps spend time with a non-painting partner, we’ll aim to have a group appraisal every couple of afternoons where we can see how we’re getting on.

Lone-bothy - Sketching & Painting Holidays in ScotlandEach itinerary bears in mind the possibility of bad weather and alternatives will be offered. Never forgetting that this is YOUR holiday, no day’s attendance is compulsory. The trips have been designed to maximise your enjoyment of the area within the short timespan but if you feel like a day ‘off’, or if the group as a whole would like a change to the itinerary, it is flexible enough to allow for this.

Are-these-holidays-for-me - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Scotland

The Scottish Highlands, and the West Coast in particular, is for anyone who loves wild, dramatic, spectacular scenery and the feeling of being miles from anywhere in a remote and isolated community. It is not for those who need to be near fancy shops, cinemas and clubs, although we do have bars and restaurants! You also need a somewhat flexible approach to the weather and an understanding of the saying: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”.

If you don’t mind the odd wet day and can see beauty in a howling gale; if you are comfortable with miles of twisting single-track roads where there are likely to be more sheep than cars, and if you are eager to leave the stresses and pretentions of a city lifestyle behind, then it is certainly the place for you! It might even be life-changing.

Suilven-from-Glen-Canisp - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Scotland‘Windswept Wilderness’ Sketching ‘Journey’ will suit:

Experienced sketchers who want to discover the best views and spend time with a like-minded group; those new to sketching quickly outside who like the idea of practising the skill by visiting lots of stunning locations; those who would like a fairly active holiday in this area and to see as much as possible, yet fancy a bit of sketching as well, rather than climbing the mountains; those new to rough walking and to sketching who would like to try both in one of the most beautiful yet little-known parts of Britain.

It is possibly less suitable for complete beginners requiring a lot of intensive tuition due to the short amount of time we’ll be spending in some of the locations. It is also unsuitable for those with an aversion to walking; the walks are not strenuous but are on uneven terrain and up to 4 hours in length.

How-to-book - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Scotland
You may reserve a place on any trip with payment of a 10% deposit All the trips will run subject to the minimum number of participants being reached 6 weeks prior to departure. In the event of insufficient or excess bookings, you will be offered an alternative holiday or a later departure. If this is not suitable your deposit will be refunded. Anyone wishing to join a scheduled trip departing within 6 weeks may do so, subject to availability.

quinag-reflections - Sketching & Painting Holidays in Scotland

  1. Firstly, please use the contact form to send an e-mail to me, and let me know which trip you are interested in. If you are unsure which will suit you best, I will contact you so that we can go through the options.
  2. When you are ready to make your booking, send me an e-mail. I will confirm exact joining dates, advise on recommended flights (if relevant) and give you payment details so that you can pay your deposit.
  3. I will confirm your booking and your place on your chosen programme, on receipt of:
    The full name, address and phone number of all members of your party
    A 10% non-refundable deposit made by direct bank-to-bank transfer, or (cleared) cheque paid into my UK bank account (NOT posted as I may not be in the country)
    It would also be helpful to include a short summary of your painting experience to date.
  4. I will send you essential information about how to join the group if you are not being met at the airport; advice on choosing flights (if applicable) and what you need to bring with you on your holiday, as well as a more detailed daily itinerary and your Useful Information fact-sheet for the country you will be visiting, if you have not already requested these.
  5. The balance of your payment is due in British pounds, 2 weeks before the commencement of your Sketching Holiday. You may make a bank transfer (recommended), or if you prefer to pay by cheque (in pounds sterling), this must be presented and cleared in my account well before the commencement of the holiday.

Non-UK residents may choose to pay in cash on arrival at the destination but please speak to me about this first.
By making your booking you are agreeing to our ‘Terms and Conditions’, which can be found below.

Contact information:
Email: hello@sketchingholidays.co.uk
Phone: 00 44 (0)798 281 2842 (active only when I am in the UK).
Ask for my Skype name.