Destination Guide: Scottish Highlands Covering the Northern-most region of Britain the Highlands are a vast and untouched wilderness of breath-taking natural beauty
The Scottish Highlands cover the Northern-most region of Britain and are a vast and untouched wilderness of breath-taking natural beauty.
An expansive and sparsely populated region of Scotland, the Scottish Highlands cover a vast area which stretches northward from the vibrant cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow all the way to the most northerly point of the British mainland at John O’Groats. With few centres of population the region is characterised by a vast and dramatic geography and natural wildlife.
The primary appeal of the Highlands is in her often barren but always beguiling landscapes; Scotland’s northern territories are synonymous with towering mountain ranges, desolate moorlands, heather-swept glens, crystal rivers and icy lochs. It is home to some of the UKs most famous natural features including Ben Nevis, the UK’s tallest peak, and Loch Ness, Britain’s largest body of water by volume. Not to mention it’s many lesser known but equally impressive geological points of interest.
The inhospitable terrain has left the Scottish Highlands largely unsettled which means today they offer a truly tranquil retreat where visitors can escape the bustle of modern life and enjoy clean fresh air and nature. The remote landscapes provide thriving natural habitats wildlife and birdlife alike home to everything from mountain hares, red squirrels and wild deer to moorland grouse, puffins and golden eagles. Scotland’s Highland rivers are renowned for their freshwater salmon whilst the coastal waters are home to harbour-seals, bottle-nose dolphins and even whales.
The Scottish Highlands are a bastion of Scottish culture – the remote landscapes are punctuated by hallmarks of Scotland’s long and bloody human history and the clan-culture that prevailed here for centuries. The region is home to ancient castle ruins, tumbledown settlements, impressive baronial manors and desolate battlefields including the iconic sites of Culloden Moor, Eilean Donan Castle and Urquhart Castle. More recently the unique landscapes of the Highlands have inspired and featured in popular TV and film productions including the ever-popular Outlander series, The Crown and the Harry Potter films. The Eastern Highlands are closely linked to the British monarchy; Balmoral Castle, the Scottish residence of the Queen, sits in Royal Deeside where many of her preferred local establishments proudly display their Royal Warrant of Appointment. Culturally however, the Highlands are possibly best-known for their world-famous export, the Scottish “Water of Life”. Scotch Whisky is produced here by traditional method in distilleries dotted throughout the region and include global brands such as Talisker, Oban and Glenfiddich.
There are few large centres of population in the Highlands; Aberdeen and Inverness are the primary cities which each have their own charm whilst Stirling, which was once the Royal Seat of Scotland before Edinburgh, played a central role in Scotland’s rich history. Otherwise the region is characterised by smaller market towns and villages which include some real gems like Braemar set deep in the Cairngorms, the Victorian spa town of Pitlochry and Portree the principal town on the Isle of Skye which is set around a picturesque harbour against the backdrop of the Cuillin Mountains.
Home to truly captivating scenery, abundant wildlife and a rich heritage, the Highlands are an epic destination waiting to be explored.