North Coast 500 Workshop

Loch Tournaig, Wester Ross


Dates: to be confirmed (please contact me to note interest)
Duration: 5 nights / 6 days
Start/Finish: Inverness
Grade: Easy/Moderate (suitable for beginners and intermediate photographers; most locations are within short walking distance; average level of fitness required)
Price: £2,000


  • Develop your photography skills in the spectacular landscapes of the Highlands.
  • Experience the Bealach na Bà, the steepest road in the UK, rising to 626m (2,054 feet).
  • Photograph the majestic Torridon mountains.
  • Feel inspired on the Knockan Crag geological trail overlooking the ancient Inverpolly landscape.
  • Photograph an underground waterfall in Smoo Cave, Durness.
  • Capture stunning windswept beaches on Scotland’s northern coast.
  • Learn from tutorials, one-to-one tuition in the field and critique sessions.

Balnakeil Bay, Durness, Sutherland


Spend six days developing your photography skills in the relaxed company of Karen Thorburn and enjoy exploring one of the top coastal routes in the world.

The internationally renowned North Coast 500 has been described as Scotland’s answer to the USA’s Route 66. This 500 mile photography tour around the North Highlands, starting and finishing in Inverness, is packed with stunningly beautiful locations including golden beaches, dramatic mountain scenery, romantic castles, old ruins, scenic towns and quaint villages.

I’ve been exploring these landscapes since childhood, long before the route was designated, seeking out the best locations for landscape photography. Experience some of the best scenery Scotland has to offer; ideal locations in which to improve your landscape photography.

Learn from tutorials and critique sessions with individual feedback which will be delivered in a positive way with the intention of inspiring you, as opposed to denting your confidence!

Ben More Coigach and Loch Cul Dromannan


Here is a sample itinerary. Expect this to change in order to take advantage of the weather conditions and best locations for photography.

Day 1: Inverness to Shieldaig

I will meet you under the main display board at Inverness railway station at 09:00 on Sunday morning. We’ll head west along the scenic south shore of the Beauly Firth and have our first stop at the impressive waterfall, Rogie Falls. The scenery will become increasingly dramatic as we pass through Garve and Achnasheen, heading for Lochcarron. We’ll take our time traversing the world-renowned Bealach na Bà; the steepest road in the UK rising to a height of 626m (2,054 feet). The scenery here is breath-taking; on a clear day we’ll be rewarded with views over to Raasay and the Skye Cuillin. We’ll descend into the picturesque village of Applecross and follow the road around the peninsula to the charming village of Shieldaig. We’ll settle in at our accommodation, relax over dinner and go over some theory.

Day 2: Shieldaig to Ullapool

We’ll begin the day by driving along the south shore of Upper Loch Torridon, pausing to capture the view of the magnificent mountain Beinn Alligin. We’ll shoot from the shores of Loch Clair looking towards the Torridonian giants of Liathach and Beinn Eighe. From Kinlochewe, we’ll head north west along the shore of Loch Maree, stopping to photograph the mountain of Slioch from various locations. We’ll take a break in the lovely little town of Gairloch before continuing north to Poolewe. The Wester Ross coastal route offers fantastic scenery; we’ll pause on the descent to Gruinard Bay to capture one of the finest views in the area. You can test your head for heights on the bridge and viewing platform overlooking the 60m deep Corrieshalloch Gorge, formed by meltwater at the end of the last ice age. We’ll end the day in the charming town of Ullapool where we’ll have another tutorial and look over the images from the day.

Day 3: Ullapool to Durness

Our first stop for the day will be Ardmair; a beautiful stony beach to the north of Ullapool, overlooking Ben More Coigach. Further north, we’ll be rewarded with views towards the distinctive profile of Stac Pollaidh. We’ll stretch our legs at Knockan Crag; an interpretive trail that brings to life the ancient geology of the Assynt region, boasting impressive views over the Inverpolly landscape. We’ll pause at Elphin to shoot the jaw-dropping mountain of Suilven before making our way around the northern shore of Loch Assynt, taking in the ruins of Ardvreck Castle. We’ll break for lunch at Lochinver before visiting the Bay of Stoer; a windswept beach peppered with photogenic rocks. We’ll follow the road along the north coast of Assynt which twists and turns across the landscape with views towards the magnificent mountain of Quinag. From Kylesku, with its views over Lochs Glendhu and Glencoul, we’ll head north, via Scourie, to Durness where we’ll spend the night.

Day 4: Durness to Thurso

We’ll start the day with a visit to the beautiful sandy beach at Balnakeil, before exploring the mighty Smoo Cave; home to an underground waterfall. We’ll spend the day working our way along the northern coast, pausing to capture the beautiful coastal scenery and stunning beaches around Loch Eriboll, Tongue, Bettyhill and Strathy. From Thurso, we’ll look out across the Pentland Firth to the Orkney Islands beyond. We’ll check in at our accommodation early and spend the evening with an extended critique session, going over the images captured during the previous four days.

Day 5: Thurso to Dornoch

We’ll start our penultimate day with a short detour to Dunnet Head, the most northerly point on the UK mainland. From the lighthouse we’ll look out over the Pentland Firth and scan the water for whales. We’ll continue east to the popular destination of John O’Groats before turning south. We’ll spend the afternoon working our way down the Caithness and Sutherland coast, taking in the dramatic ruins at Castle Sinclair Girnigoe near Wick, Dunbeath harbour, Brora beach and Loch Fleet nature reserve. We’ll stop for our final night in Dornoch; one of my favourite Scottish towns, just a stone’s throw from the North Coast 500 route.

Day 6: Dornoch to Inverness

The final day will begin with a visit to Dornoch beach. We’ll cross the Dornoch Firth and take a short detour to the red and white striped picturesque lighthouse at Tarbet Ness. We’ll re-join the route and head for Balconie Point near Evanton where we’ll stretch our legs, photograph the reed beds looking towards the Fyrish Monument, and take advantage of the open views over the Cromarty Firth towards the Black Isle. We’ll follow the official route and return to Inverness via the south side of the Beauly Firth. Our last stop will be Inverness Castle overlooking the Highland capital and the River Ness, before arriving back at Inverness railway station by 17:00.



The price is £2,000 per person and includes the following:

  • Five nights private accommodation in the Highlands of Scotland.
  • Breakfast, packed lunches and evening meals.
  • All transport during the workshop, starting and finishing in Inverness.
  • Tutorials, one-to-one tuition and critique sessions.

The price does NOT include the following:

  • Travel to and from the workshop start/finish point.
  • Any additional meals or snacks.
  • Alcohol and soft drinks.
  • Gratuities.
  • Insurance.
  • Equipment.
  • Any other items not referred to in the itinerary.

To make a booking, please consult the Workshop FAQs, complete a Workshop Booking Form and provide a 25% deposit (£500).

Karen Thorburn
Tel: +44 (0)7761985752
© Karen Thorburn