With its grand landscapes of rugged mountains, lush valleys and vast tranquil lochs, the Scottish Highlands have long been a great inspiration to those who pass through, from historic figures to filmmakers, all of whom added to the stories this landscape has to tell. Read on to find out why you should travel to the Scottish Highlands and what to see while you’re there.
This famous loch stretches across a length of 20 miles and reaches 700 metres at its deepest point. Perhaps it’s the sheer size of this lake that makes the stories of the Loch Ness Monster that much more believable to the many people who think there’s truth in the legend. But the lake has plenty to offer the non-believers, too, with boat trips across the tranquil water, scenic surroundings to hike through, and small villages to explore, including Fort Augustus, which sits on the southern tip of Loch Ness, close to the Great Glen Way.
Great Glen Way
Spanning the entire expanse of the Scottish Highlands, over 100 kilometres from coast to coast, The Great Glen Way follows the natural course of a vast fault line that divides the Scottish highlands. By exploring small sections of the Great Glen, visitors can see some of the dramatic scenery that the Highlands are famous for, including the forested landscape that surrounds Loch Ness, with many people setting out on hikes from Fort Augustus.
Stirling draws many visitors in for it medieval castle, which overlooks the rest of the city. By stepping into the castle’s Royal Palace, visitors are met with an engaging insight into the history behind it, with costumed performers adding a touch of drama to the experience. Other sections of Stirling Castle that are open to exploration include The Great Kitchens and Regimental Museum. Outside the castle walls, wander through Stirling’s Old Town, and pay a visit to The National Wallace Monument, a tower that has been erected on a hilltop near Stirling, in honour of Sir William Wallace.
Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park
Loch Lomond has the impressive claim of being the largest body of water on the mainland of the United Kingdom, surrounded by the mountains and glens of The Trossachs, which together are encompassed within Scotland’s first national park, along with the small village of Aberfoyle. Situated on the banks of the River Forth, this village is within a section of the national park called Queen Elizabeth Forest Park. While exploring Aberfoyle, take a look inside the Trossachs Discovery centre, before setting off into the surrounding parkland.
Glencoe is often regarded as the Highland’s most scenic glen with dramatic mountains, tumbling waterfalls, and the vast open moorland of The Great Moor of Rannoch. But it’s also held in high regard for being the place where Celtic hero Fingal made his home. In fact, the land here has a long and rich history to reveal, and in more recent times, it made history again by becoming the film set for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
As the largest town in the Highlands – second in size only to the city of Inverness – Fort William is an ideal base for further exploration of the wild local landscape, especially as the town is overlooked by Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis. Walk along the shores of Loch Linnhe, which the town lies alongside, and take a trip on The Jacobite steam train that became the Hogwarts Express in Harry Potter.
The Famous Grouse Experience
The Glenturret Distillery is Scotland’s oldest whisky producer, making it the ideal setting for delving into the traditions surrounding Scotch whisky. Situated in the town of Crieff, which lies at the foot of The Highlands, the distillery experience is easily combined with time spent exploring the Scottish landscape. Join in on tours and tastings, and tuck into local produce at the distillery’s restaurant, Wilde Thyme.
Header image: Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands © iStock / Martin McCarthy.