Terms and Conditions, FAQs and Travel Tips

We prefer to have a straight-forward, open and reasonable relationship with you, our valued customer, and for you to have a reasoned and reasonable understanding of us as the supplier of your tour experience.

Our goal is for you to have a superb experience with us.

In the interests of clarity, safety and to abide by tour regulations, we have set out our terms and conditions below, along with answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) plus some tips and recommendations to help to ensure your tour and stay with us is the best experience it can possibly be.

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Terms & Conditions

These terms and conditions refer to tours provided by Andrew and Diane Nicholson, operating as Highland Personal Development Photography Tours, of Culloden, Inverness, herein referred to as ‘The Operator’.

Our tours are designed for reasonably fit and mobile adults. By prior agreement will accept teenagers between 14 and 18 years old when accompanied by a responsible adult.

For couples or individuals, you will travel in comfort throughout the highlands in a modern, spacious, air-conditioned, all-wheel drive Subaru Outback. You will reach your destination relaxed and ready to explore. Larger groups will travel in a hired vehicle, the nature of which will depend on the group size and tour requirements.

Tour participants must bring clothing and footwear suitable for the tours conditions and highly variable Highland weather.

Smoking is not permitted in our vehicles or accommodation. We cannot accommodate pets on our tours.

All non-UK clients must be in possession of a valid passport. Your specific passport and visa requirements, and other immigration requirements are your responsibility and you should confirm these with the relevant Embassies and/or Consulates.

By booking, reading, and agreeing to our terms and conditions at time of booking you are agreeing to be bound by these. The person booking the tour (the lead person) does so on behalf of all the other individuals included on it, so that all are bound by the booking conditions.

The content of the pages of this website is for your general information and use only. It is subject to change without notice. Neither we nor any third parties provide any warranty or guarantee as to the accuracy, timeliness, performance, completeness or suitability of the information and materials found or offered on this website for any particular purpose. You acknowledge that such information and materials may contain inaccuracies or errors and we expressly exclude liability for any such inaccuracies or errors to the fullest extent permitted by law.

Your use of any information or materials on this website is entirely at your own risk, for which we shall not be liable. It shall be your own responsibility to ensure that any products, services or information available through this website meet your specific requirements.

Payment Options

We accept:

  • Bank Transfers (our preferred option)
  • PayPal Payments
  • Card Payments over the phone or in person

Bookings and Cancellation charges

A minimum deposit of 20% is required to confirm a booking and reserve your desired dates. If you are booking within 60 days of the start date, full payment will be required. A confirmation email will then be e-mailed to you along with a Tour Requirements Form for you to complete.

The ‘lead participant’ is the person who makes the booking on behalf of all participants in a multi-person booking. It is your (or on bookings involving more than one person, the lead participant’s) responsibility, as the customer, to check the accuracy of your booking including your travel dates.

The payment and receipt of a deposit does not imply acceptance of a booking. A contract is only made between you and The Operator upon your booking being confirmed and accepted through written communication thereof to either you/participant or your authorised Travel Agent.

Full payment is required by a date no later than 60 days prior to the date of tour commencement. If the full payment has not been received by this date, as specified in our confirmation, we reserve the right to treat the booking as cancelled.

Number of days prior to start of tour Cancellation fee as % of total price
60 days or more 20% (deposit) forfeited
59-30 days 35%
29-15 days 50%
14 days – date of tour commencement Any refund is at our discretion

Bookings are non-transferable between participants.

If you wish to cancel your booking please do so in writing via email, the date received being the date of cancellation.

If we have to cancel the tour for any reason, we offer a 100% refund on the tour or an alternative date agreed by the customer. In the unlikely event that we become unable to provide a significant proportion of the services you have booked after you depart, we will make alternative arrangements for you at no extra charge, or if this is impossible, we will provide you with transport back to the point of arrival and a pro rata refund for the cost of the remainder of your holiday.

In accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992”, all participants booking with The Operator are fully protected for the initial deposit and subsequently the balance of all money paid to us, arising from cancellation or curtailment of your travel arrangements due to the insolvency of The Operator.

Accommodation and Travel

When booked directly with us, your tour does not include travel to Inverness. Your tour with us starts when we pick you up at an agreed place in Inverness.

It is your own responsibility, or that of your authorised Travel Agent to make international flight arrangements and travel arrangements to the agreed pick up point in Inverness. Whilst we will do our best to accommodate any unforeseen changes to your travel arrangements, The Operator cannot take responsibility for changes or alterations to any flights or any travel delays.

Meals and accommodation are not included as part of your Highland Personal Development Photography Tours package and price. You may be required to directly book and pay for third party accommodation and meals with the third party supplier. Alternatively, your tour with us may be booked via a third party travel agent, who may book travel (e.g. flights or trains) and accommodation on your behalf.What should I bring?

Camera Gear

If you are coming for photography guiding or mentoring then you will probably want to bring your camera equipment. If you have lots of equipment, then you probably need to limit what you bring if you are flying. In any case, we’d recommend restricting it to one bag/rucksack of gear. If you have a compact/lightweight tripod then bring that. If not, then we can lend you a tripod.

If you are an advanced photographer, then you will know what you want to bring.

If you are an intermediate photographer, then what you bring will to some extent depend on what you want to photograph i.e. you will want a wide-angle lens for landscapes and buildings, a low f-number wide angle lens for night skies and aurora, and a telephoto lens for wildlife and sports photography. If you shoot with a Canon EOS DSLR then we have a variety of lenses and filters that you can try out. If you want to be out in all weathers then you might want to consider a waterproof cover for your bag and your camera/lens, unless your camera is weather-proofed.

If you are a beginner or intermediate and you don’t have a decent camera, then you are welcome to use and try out our equipment, which we can give you advice in using. You do not need to bring your own camera equipment if you are a beginner. We can also include, as part of your tour experience, advice on equipment purchases and a trip to Ffordes Photographic, on of the leading UK photographic equipment retailers, with a large stock of new and pre-used kit. Take a look at our blog post for more about a trip to Ffordes Photographic.

Clothing

The weather in The Highlands is best described as changeable. That is great, because it provides a varied set of light conditions and moods to shoot. Combined with the many and varied subjects and landscapes right on our doorstep – this makes the Highlands a photography heaven. There is something for everyone and no shortage of fabulous subject matter.

Whatever, the season, we recommend some good quality walking shoes or boots and good quality walking socks. We don’t generally stray too far from the car (this isn’t a walking holiday!), but having a good grip and good protections for your feet is essential. If you aren’t too mobile and prefer to stay on flat and firm ground, that is absolutely fine, we can do so.

Bring clothes that will keep you warm and dry. Again, we won’t force you out into gales, rain or blizzards; however you may wish to be out enjoying the elements, so dress accordingly. If your luggage space is limited then we can probably loan you a coat or an extra jumper/pullover/sweater (check with us regarding available sizing), hat and gloves. We have umbrellas too.

Flexibility

We will endeavour to meet any reasonable requirements and your desires for the tour, both in terms of what has been agreed and outlined in advance, as well as during the tour. Should there be any significant costs to any additional requirements, you may be asked to pay for these.

Despite being a relatively small country, one of the most surprising things about the Scottish climate is just how much it varies from one region to another. It’s often the case that you can drive for 20 minutes and find that the conditions are completely different.

The type of tours that we offer require flexibility in order to make the best of tour weather and photographic conditions. For this reason the outline itinerary and tour description must be taken as an indication of what may take place on the tour, and not as a contractual obligation on the part of The Operator.

Liability and Force Majeure

The Operator does not accept any liability for loss, damage, delay, inconvenience, or direct or consequential loss, however caused, unless due to our negligence, in which case our liability is limited to a maximum of the tour cost. Any activities such as walks or visits to attractions are completely at the client’s own risk. We advise to our best knowledge each tours physical, dietary and clothing requirements but we can’t make decisions for you.

Our tours can involve travel in remote and/or mountainous regions, where amenities and medical facilities are not readily accessible. Every effort is made to ensure your safety and wellbeing. However, bookings are accepted on the understanding that you appreciate the risks and hazards associated with this sort of tour. The Operator will not accept responsibility for accidents, injury, lack of fitness, carelessness, illness, negligence or lack of punctuality attributable to the customer.

If you have any disability or illness, please inform us prior to booking the tour so advice can be given on the suitability of the tours and accommodation options. Participants must be able to walk/move around reasonable distances, including up slopes and carry their photography equipment and personal possessions with them.

We, The Operator will use all reasonable and legal means to ensure that the tour starts on time agreed and that it reaches its destination on time. The Operator will not incur any liability whatsoever in the event of any delay due to causes or circumstances beyond its control. These circumstances include but are not limited to: weather, roads, traffic, civil disturbance, industrial action, strikes, wars, sickness, floods, any other or events beyond our reasonable control, or force majeure.

The Operator does not accept liability for death, bodily injury or illness unless this arises from the negligent act and/or omission of a representative of The Operator whilst acting in the course of tour guiding and your stay with us.

The Operator does not accept responsibility for any loss of valuables, including camera equipment, during your tour and stay with us.

Insurance and Your Safety

We cannot accept responsibility for conditions which are outside our control, e.g. the weather, the closure of visitor attractions etc. We reserve the right to alter or cancel our tour itineraries where necessary due to weather conditions, road closures, etc.

It is a fundamental booking condition that you accept the potential hazards and risks involved in visiting remote areas. That said, we do not include any obviously hazardous or risky activities on any of our tours, unless, by prior agreement and involving a suitably qualified and insured guide e.g. for any mountain walking.

All participants must be fully insured for the duration of the tour. Participants are responsible for arranging their own travel insurance, which must cover at least medical expenses, injury, death and repatriation. It is advisable that you also have cancellation and curtailment as part of your insurance policy. In addition, you should be insured against loss of or damage to baggage and personal possessions including all your camera equipment.

Complaints

If you should have a complaint about the tour, then we request that you let us know straight away so that we have the option to discuss and if possible, rectify the issue. Any outstanding complaint must be made in writing and received by The Operator within fourteen days of the end of the tour.

In the unlikely event of any sort of dispute arising, the Law of Scotland shall apply. If the dispute cannot be resolved directly between us within 6 weeks of written intimation of the dispute, both The Operator and our customer shall attempt to settle the dispute by Mediation. A Mediator will be selected with the assistance of the Law Society of Scotland. If the mediation is unsuccessful, the Sheriff Court at Inverness shall have jurisdiction.

Security and Privacy

We are committed to ensuring that your information is secure in order to prevent unauthorised access or disclosure.

We have put in place suitable physical, electronic and managerial procedures to safeguard and secure the information we collect online.

We take your security and protection of your personal details very seriously. We will not disseminate personal information about our customers to any third party. We will comply with any customer’s request to discard their telephone number, e-mail address and their address details when made in writing via our contact us page.

Our website may contain links to other websites of interest. However, once you have used these links to leave our site you should note that we do not have any control over that other website. Therefore we cannot be responsible for the protection and privacy of any information which you provide whilst visiting such sites and such sites are not governed by this privacy statement. You should exercise caution and look at the privacy statement applicable to the website in question.

FAQS

Getting to Inverness

As the capital of the Highlands, Inverness is well connected to the rest of the UK and worldwide. Inverness airports has direct flights to and from:

  • International – Amsterdam (KLM, with worldwide connections), Geneva (EasyJet, seasonal), Jersey, plus indirect flights to USA/Canada (via Dublin, Aer Lingus), Middle east (via Manchester, Ethiad), Asia (via Manchester, Cathay Pacific).
  • UK – London Gatwick (EasyJet), London Heathrow (British Airways), Luton (EasyJet), Amsterdam, Belfast City (Flybe), Birmingham (Flybe), Bristol (Easyjet), Dublin, and Manchester (Flybe).
  • Highland Islands (all with Flybe) – Stornoway and Benbecula in the Western Isles, Kirkwall in Orkney and Sumburgh in Shetland.

Inverness has direct road, bus and rail links to the rest of the UK. Full details of how to get to Inverness can be found on our Connect To Your Potential website Getting To Inverness page.

About Inverness

Inverness, from the Scottish Gaelic: Inbhir Nis, means “Mouth of the River Ness”. It is the northernmost city in the United Kingdom and is regarded as the capital of the Highlands

Around a quarter of the Highland population lives in or around Inverness. Inverness is one of Europe’s fastest growing cities (according to National Records Scotland, 2012). The population of the Inverness area rose by 18 per cent to over 79,000 in just a decade according to the 2011 census; Highland Council has said it expects the city to top 100,000 by 2035. Currently, the population of the city of Inverness is only one tenth of that of Glasgow or Edinburgh.

With the nearest cities or major conurbations being just over 100 miles away (Aberdeen and Perth), Inverness is very self-contained, with ‘everything on your doorstep‘.

Surveys in 2014 and 2015 by property website Rightmove suggested Inverness as the happiest place in Scotland and the second happiest in the UK.  Inverness ranked fifth out nearly 200 British cities for its quality of life, the highest of any Scottish city.

About The Highlands

The Highlands, also referred to historically as “the place of the Gaels” are a historic region spanning the North West of Scotland with a population of 234,000.

Geographically, The Highlands comprises the area north and west of the Highland Boundary Fault along with an area to the East of the faultline which borders on Aberdeenshire. Perthshire is to the South. Download a map of the Highlands here.

The Highlands are one-third of the area of Scotland and 11.4 per cent of Great Britain. This is 10 times larger than Luxembourg and nearly the size of Belgium. Much of the Highlands is sparsely populated, with many mountain ranges dominating the region, and includes the highest mountain in the British Isles, Ben Nevis (1344 metres). Before the 19th century the Highlands was home to a much larger population, but due to a combination of factors including the outlawing of the traditional Highland way of life following the Jacobite Rising of 1745, the infamous Highland Clearances, and mass migration to urban areas during the Industrial Revolution, the area is now one of the most sparsely populated in Europe.

The Scottish Highlands is the only area in the British Isles to have the ‘Taiga’ biome, featuring concentrated populations of Scots pine forest. Apart from the oceans, the Taiga, also known as boreal forest or snow forest, is the world’s largest biome, characterised by coniferous forests consisting mostly of pines, spruces and larches. Taiga covers most of Sweden, Finland, much of Norway, some lowland/coastal areas of Iceland, much of Siberia, Northern Japan, Russia, Canda and North America.

Culturally, the Highlands and the Lowlands diverged from the later Middle Ages into the modern period, when Lowland Scots replaced Scottish Gaelic throughout most of the Lowlands.

Tips and Recommendations

Outdoors

Since much of our tours incorporate the Scottish outdoors, we advise that you look at the Outdoor Access Code before your visit.

midgesMidges

Parts of the Highlands at certain times of the year have become synonymous with the Midge. It is true that if you go to rural parts of the West Highlands between June and September, you could well be bothered and/or bitten by midges.

Thankfully, where we are in Inverness, we don’t get bothered by midges. You’d have to go out into the countryside late at night to be really bothered.

Midges like damp and humid conditions with little wind. Midges don’t like dry, sunny or windy days. A cold but dry spring/summer will reduce the midge population, whereas a warm and humid spring/summer will increase the population and extend their activity well into September.

Generally, we’d recommend avoiding places, weather conditions and times of day when midges are likely to be a bother. Alternatively, if that part of the Highlands is important for you to visit, then we recommend using insect repellent (containing citronella). It is also said that eating garlic and plenty of vitamin B/B1 is a repellent. Smidge is said to be a safe and effective repellent. It can be purchased online or in local shops.

We also have head nets for use outside the car when the midges are very active.

Wildlife

When wildlife watching, or when near wildlife, we will observe Scottish Natural Heritage’s (SNH) Responsible wildlife watching guide.

The Weather in The Highlands

To check out the current weather conditions, click on the BBC Weather for Inverness.

Scotland has four distinct seasons; spring, summer, autumn, and winter.

In common with Scotland, Inverness has an oceanic climate. Its sheltered location makes it one of the driest areas in Scotland. That said, Scotland occupies the cooler northern section of Great Britain, so temperatures are generally lower than in the rest of the British Isles. Scotland’s climate is actually quite moderate and very changeable, although on occasion we get really hot or really cold weather. As the old Scottish saying goes, ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes!’

Mean annual temperatures over the Highland region at low altitude vary from about 9°C (48°F) close to the Moray Firth and on the westernmost isles to about 7°C (44°F) on Shetland. This compares to an 11 °C (52°F) in Cornwall and the Channel Islands. Over the higher ground temperatures are generally lower; at the summit of Cairngorm Mountain the annual mean is just below 1°C (34°F).

Met Office climate reporting indicates that:

  • January or February is the coldest month, with mean daily minimum temperatures varying from about 2 °C on west-facing coasts and in the Western and Northern Isles, to less than -1 °C over higher ground.
  • July or August is the warmest month, with mean daily maximum temperatures at low levels around 19 °C in areas close to the Moray Firth (where we are based).
  • Moray Firth region also receives the most sunshine in Northern Scotland, 1300 hours, which compares to 1750 hours for the south coast of England. Dundee is Scotland’s sunniest city, with an average of 1,523 hours of sunshine per year.
  • Much of Northern Scotland is exposed to the rain-bearing westerly winds, particularly the Western Isles and the west coast. This results in an average annual rainfall of at least 1700 mm. The wettest area is Fort William (4000+ mm per year). However, where we are – the Moray Firth – in the lee of the mountains, annual rainfall is only about 700 mm. This compares to 500 mm in the driest parts of eastern England. According to VisitScotland, the eastern part of the country, from Inverness across to Aberdeenshire and down to Angus, Fife and the Lothians, enjoys an annual rainfall that is actually similar to (or less than) New York, Barcelona, Rome or even Rabat in Morocco.
  • Rainfall creates the breathtaking waterfalls, rushing rivers, rainbows, luscious countryside, dense forests, and beautiful Highland gardens. Plus, as the proverb goes, ‘today’s rain is tomorrow’s whisky!’
  • On average, the number of days with snow falling varies from less than 30 per year along the west coast to over 100 days over the Grampians. Over most of the Highlands, snowfall is normally confined to the months from November to April. That said, there are often snow capped mountains, on The Balck Isle, to be seen from our back garden well into June. Snow cover typically persists on the highest Highland peaks for 6 to 7 months of the year.

In common with the rest of the United Kingdom, the prevailing wind is from the south-west.

Milky Way over Culloden Viaduct at ClavaNight Sky

Scotland’s high latitude means that although winter days are short, in summer there are very long daylight hours and often an extended twilight. On the longest day of the year there is no complete darkness over the northern isles of Scotland.

The long dark winter nights are some of the best times to see amazing constellations of stars or the Aurora Borealis, just wrap up warm. That said, some my best night sky and aurora shots have been taken in August (at midnight).

As well as a clear sky, the best viewing of stars, constellations, meteor showers and the Aurora comes when there is a new moon (no or little moon showing in a clear sky). This is the best time to photograph the milky way and create star trails with a series of long exposure shots. Click here to see the moon’s phases and the lunar calendar for Inverness.

dolphins breachingTide Times

Tide times are very important when it comes to seeing the amazing Dolphins breaching at Rosemarkie. They can also be important for coastal landscape shots or forecasting as good time to photograph waves breaking on rocks or harbour walls.

In the UK we mostly experience a semi-diurnal tide which means we experience two high tides and two low tides each day. These occur approximately every 12 hours and 25 minutes.

Click here for a six-day tidal forecast for Inverness.

Click here for a 28 day tidal for Aberdeen.

Long range tidal forecasts are generally available only by subscription. A 42 day forecast is available by subscribing to tidetimes.org.uk. Alternatively, an annual printed tide timetable for Inverness (or other areas), now including sunrise and sunset times, can be purchased.

 

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