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Photographing the NC500 Cycling Tour of Scotland

A Photographic Journey by Chris Page.

June 2023, I was invited to joined the Vintners Velo Cycle Team on their NC500 charity ride of Scotland. However, thankfully not as one of the cyclist, but as the photographer to record the event.

Cyclists in the Scottish Landscape
Nikon 850 - 200mm - cycling in the landscape

Having previously traveled the majority of the 500 mile rout in 2021 I had a good idea as to what to expect from this wonderful part of Scotland, and so was able to do some pre-planning; decided to take five cameras and an assortment of lenses for each. My prevouse solo trip had been dedicated in photographing the remoteness of the landscape, but now there was a new agenda, People! Yes, a very diffrent focus of subject matter. Normally I would exclude human activity from my photographs, but on this trip the Cyclists are to be the centre of attention.

Applecross mountain pass scotland
Hasselblad X1DII - 80mm - spot the four cyclists coming up the Applecross Mountain Pass

Seeing the Cyclist “in the landscape” I felt was important to give one a sense of distance, scale and grandeur of the bonny country of Scotland. However, in the Collection you will also find plenty of shots without a cyclist in sight! Finding view points to set up to take these shots became the constant daily challenge, not for the lack of stunning locations, but the suitability to be able to see the Cyclists coming towards me from a distance

Cyclist riding through cloud to the top of Bealach-na-Ba Scotland
Nikon 850 - 82mm - through cloud to the top of Bealach-na-Ba

In addition, I wanted to take some portraits, and had been thinking about those “Heroic” Edwardian Adventures and Explorers, and how they were depicted in early photographs. Although, I wanted to capture them in a modern way rather than with a traditional look, a direction worth trying out in creating portraits of our four hero's! The portrait set below I took handheld in the clouds at the summit of Bealach-na-Ba, just after they had completed the 2,000ft climb.

Portraits of Cyclist at the summit of Bealach-na-Ba
Hasselblad X1DII - 42mm - we can be Hero's (just of six days)

Over the six days it was filled with plenty of “behind the scenes” photo oppertunities to get those candid snap shots. The morning prepartation, tea stops along the way and the evening get togethers of all that were involved.

Morning cuddles while cyclist are getting ready to start their ride.
Leica Q2 - 28mm - morning cuddles

Finally, there was then those photographic moments when I went “ off-piste”, moved away from the cycling and went were my eye took me. These are the shots that give the mood of the moment, either in the wide open spaces or in the finer details that sparked my interest.

Trees on a rock island on Loch Assynt Scotland
Hasselblad X1DII - 30mm - Tir Bho Sheann, 3 million years in the making

So with all the above in mind, I have broken down the overall NC500 Vintners Velo Collection of photographs into four sub-collections each with their individual themes:-

Please explore our journey in each of the collections, which I hope you will enjoy!

Vintners Velo NC500 Cycle Tour Team at the finish point in Inverness
Leica Q2 - 28mm - NC500 Cycle Tour Team at the finish point in Inverness

In addition to the Photography Collection I took plenty of video footage of the cyclist with the Leica Q2. Glenn Roberts has pulled all the videos together along with his GOPRO and Drone footage and has produced a fabulous video that creatively documents the event. Not only does it capture the cyclist in action but it also shows off Scotland at it best, I encourage you to watch it! click on the link below.

Cycling the North Coast 500 in Scotland is an incredible adventure that takes you through some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country. The NC500 is a scenic route that covers approximately 500 miles (800 km) around the northern coastline of Scotland, starting and ending in Inverness.

Scotland is renowned for its stunning landscapes, and the NC500 showcases the best of them. From the dramatic cliffs and golden beaches of the North Coast to the majestic mountains of the Highlands, surrounded by natural beauty throughout the journey. The NC500 takes you through diverse terrains and breathtaking scenery, including stunning coastlines, rugged mountains, rolling hills, and charming villages. The highlight for me was the Bealach na Bà mountain pass, rising from sea level to 2,054 ft (626m) in about 3.7miles (6km), the greatest ascent of any road climb in the UK.

wild cotton grass in the wind in scotland
Leica Q2 - 28mm (macro) - cotton grass wild in the wind

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37 views3 comments


Michael Rossi
Michael Rossi
Jul 01, 2023

Not much of a cyclist myself but love the landscapes. Also love your picture essay on Lockdown. Could go on forever.

Replying to

For me looking at Lockdown that was so very fresh at the time, it now seems today that it has drifted into "Then" - and may it stay that way and never become a "Now" again! - thanks Mike for your comments - Chris

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