Landscapes - Gary Cook

Old Man of Storr

This eerie, weirdly shaped rock formation lies on the north-eastern slopes of the Isle of Skye, just north of the little town of Portree, in the Scottish highlands. The "Old Man" refers to the rock pinnacles in this image, while the "Storr" refers to the cliffs above, known as the Trotternish Ridge. Overlooking the Sound of Raasay, the rock formations have been formed from ancient land slips, leaving the pinnacle rocks standing vertically on the steep slopes.
By now, many of you will know that I rarely manage to take landscape images without suffering some kind of personal discomfort. You'll be relieved to hear that this occasion was no exception. In classic fashion I misread the map and assumed the map units were "feet" rather than the European "meters" they actually were. Consequently the Old Man of Storr was three times higher and three times further than I expected. The weather was also atrocious, with 70 miles per hour wind gusts and horizontal rain. The image here was snatched between momentary gaps in the clouds with piles of rocks weighing down my vibrating tripod in the gale.
This image also carries tragedy with it.... As I was photographing this, a tourist passed by who stared with incredulity that anyone would be crazy enough to attempt photography on a day like this. He disappeared into the clouds and rain and continued up towards the Trotternish Ridge. Later that week I watched aghast at the local news as they announced they had just recovered his body from the Ridge, with hypothermia and exposure being the suspected cause of death.