Questions from US pilot visiting Scotland as Hobbyist, looking for location advice

This forum seems like a lucky find! I’m an American drone op/cinematographer coming over to Scotland to visit family in November. I’ll be doing a week through Skye/Inverness as well, and of course will be attempting to do as much drone videography along the way - but as a hobbyist, non-commercial (did the operator/flyer ID already) as it’s not worth going through the process for a week for what is ultimately personal footage anyway.

I was hoping that those of you with experience in the Glencoe/Loch Ness/Sky area could give me some pointers - I’ve been doing all the research I can and trying to keep track of what’s Forestry Land vs National Trust vs Private Landowner and trying to determine who the owners are… but ultimately it’s hard to keep track of, and I know that when doing the drive I’ll ultimately see things on the side of the road that are worth a stop.

So if anyone is willing to give pointers to figuring this out in those areas, it would be much appreciated. I’m going to get UK insured no matter what, so that’s not an issue.

Is there any realistic chance of being approved by NTS for Glencoe, with a reasonable flight plan, if it’s a non-commercial 20 minute flight? (And does anyone know of good places for this, as best I can figure is to go to some of the ‘viewpoints’, and go 50 yards from the carpark for takeoff, and know where the hiking trails are to avoid overflight).

Is this moot now? I saw the 10 pound fee, then I see people saying that’s outdated. I totally get why they wouldn’t want anyone to go there, it would annoy the hell out of me if I owned the land, but hard to pass up if it’s a possibility on the way to Mallaig.

Pretty clueless on a lot of this land ownership despite using ScotLIS, especially around Storr.

Cliffs around Skye:
Does this qualify as owned by the king if it’s water-adjacent?

Urquhart/Ness, Eilean Donan, and any other small castles along the way:
Would it be safe to assume that these are not as much of a problem in November in a “take off a few hundred yards down a loch and stay 50 yards away” capacity, or do they really dislike this legally? Those sort of areas that feel grey-ish would be great if someone could clarify. Or is Historic Environment Scotland reasonable with requests? It throws me off a little that they mention needing the CAA operational authorization for permission, but does that sort of authorization differ from regular personal use? (In the US, it’s Pt.107 Commercial or it’s Hobbyist TRUST and it’s pretty black and white.)

That’s a lot longer of a question than I intended to ask, but I do greatly appreciate any help. And if anyone wanted to meet along the way at any point, I’ll be easy to spot as the idiot wearing the tartan hat with the red hair poking out you find in all the gift shops. (That’s not true.)

Hi Dan and welcome to GADC.

Re Glencoe, I fly there a lot. NTS do not own the whole glen, in fact some of the best images can be had from just outside their boundary. Check out some of my photos here - Rannoch Moor & Glencoe all shot outside NTS land. To be honest, even if you did go right in to the Glen and TOAL, there is not normally anyone going to question you. Just watch out for low flying military aircraft.

Re Glenfinnan, I’ve not been there in a while but I found it easier just to pay the £10 fee. Chatting to Alastair the estate manager, he told me only three folk had paid that day, yet I saw a lot more than three drones in the air.

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Another thread where Glencoe and NTS is discussed - Glencoe and the Scottish national trust - #8 by NTSA93 You will see a map where I’ve marked a parking spot, the land to the north of this is not owned by NTS.

Some sound advice there from @Drumsagard , we also have a few other members who live and have travelled up there.

My only tip would be bring a big coat.

Oh and welcome to GADC


And probably a warm hat.

Maybe a GADC hat? :joy:

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Wow, thank you for this! For Glencoe, I’m almost glad I hadn’t yet emailed NTS about authorization as that exact point happens to be one I’d marked as potentially viable - just on the other side of the road. Great to know which side to stay on!

With regard to Glenfinnan, I read a post on the DJI form from last October that it’s now a no-drone policy not a £10 fee. Which is understandable but unfortunate, hell I’d pay 5x that to be able to do it for a battery or two, but I get that during the summer they must be inundated all day which has to get old.

Mind my asking, is there anywhere else particularly noteworthy that you’ve had experience flying between Inverness and Skye, and Fort William and the general direction of Perth? (I’m not putting a lot of forethought into flying in dundee/edinburgh/crieff area other than the Arbroath cliffs - if it happens it happens, but the northern/western locations are where I’m spending the first week)

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I have a little kilt for my Air 2s to wear as well - although if my Uncle from Dundee is with me at that part of the trip, I can’t use it, as he’ll figure out why there was a square cut out of his kilt after a wedding over here last month. Best to keep him guessing.

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As you head west on the A87 to Kyle of Lochalsh & the Skye Bridge, worth stopping at Shiel Bridge/Ratagan, some stunning views from the Old Military Road above Ratagan. Following the road along the side of Loch Duich brings you to Dornie and Eilean Donan Castle, a must stop! There are no drone signs in the car park, but they do allow TOAL out of hours. However you can fly from outside their property at any time. Best spots I’ve found are the beach near the castle and a great view point is the small road opposite the castle at the Dornie Community Hall and Toilets. On Skye, worth checking out Elgol, Old Man of Storr from Loch Leathan, Neist Point Lighthouse to name a few.

While in the Glencoe area, check out Lochan-nah-Achlaise on Rannoch Moor by the A82 with views to the Blackmount. Also Glen Etive/Loch Etive area. Best thing about Fort William is the road out lol, the A830 is known as the road to the isles. It takes you out to Glenfinnan and beyond to the white sands of Morar and ends at Mallaig. Lots of parking restrictions around the white sands now, but should be less busy in November. A detour to the south of the A830 will take you to Castle Tioram on Loch Moidart, always worth a visit.

My favourite spots around Perth are to the north around Killiecrankie, Loch Tummel and Loch Rannoch which are stunning in the autumn.