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The Almost Ultimate Guide to the Scottish Highlands

Highlands

After travelling around many cities and seeing alot of the European architecture, we were up to get out of the route a little and get the chance to see the natural beauty, to find out what kind of landscape and natural views we could really get in the North Hemisphere. Coming from South America, we knew that our conception of nature would be really different than the European one, and that we would see landscapes that we have never seen before, but on TV.

When we decided that we would be going to Scotland, the first thing that came to our minds was “the Highlands!”  I, probably just like every kid who grew up watching Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings movies, always had this dream of visiting valleys and badass mountains with snow on top, or that long green grass waving at the wind with those fluffy sheeps  grazing around!

I can assure you, the Highlands are pretty much how you imagine Scotland to be! Think about Scotland….yeah, this thing you just thought, exactly like that.
So if you are willing to visit some movie like  scenario *Middle Earth feelings* that’s a place for you. Not only that though, if you are a nature lover, or enjoy hiking, or even, if you just want to see yourself what a small creature you are compared to the world, this is a place for you.

It does look like something literally magic, not magic like “yay my little pony” but magic like “blood, death and spells all over”  specially after reading some of the stories behind the Highland and the gaelic culture. There are all kind of stories you can hear here from Vikings stories to magic stones and highlander clans.

 

The Highlands

 

Highlands

Scotland is divided in Highlands in the north and Lowlands in the south. Back in time, the Highlands were occupied by the Gaels, an ancient people who had their own culture and language, while the Lowlands were the land of the Scottish people. With time, due to many factors, the Gael people started to migrate to the Lowlands, leaving the Highlands little populated.

Although the Gael culture almost disappeared, many people in the Highlands still preserves part of it, including the language. In some areas it is still taught in schools and some elders are still able to comunicate in this language. Some words used in Scotland are also from the Gaelic vocabulary, such as Loch (lake) and Glen (valley).

The Highlands are not only rich in beautiful places but also in history, there are many historical places to visit, such as many castles, battlefields, old villages and standing stones. Many battles happened in the highlands from the invasion of Viking to the occupation of the british army and the rebellion of the Jacobites. With time, these conflicts and the increase in industrialisation in the central belt promising work for the now ex-farm labour forced the population to migrate to the south part of Scotland, leaving behind, small populated villages.

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Villages and Cities

 

Highlands

The Highlands are made of mostly small cities and villages, besides Aberdeen, all big cities of Scotland are located in the south part of he country. Highlands is perfect to spend some vacations if you are seeking a chill place away from the crowd to rest.

 

Callander

There is always divergences in pointing where exactly the Lowlands end and the Highlands start but in general, we consider Callander to be the first city, the gateway to the Highlands.Highlands

It is a pretty small city with a population of only 3,000 people. There is nothing much to see and do in the city, BUT from there you can have access to the Callander Crags, as well as many other trails and walks.

 

Highlights:

  • Callander Crags
  • Loch Lomond
  • Trossachs National Park

 

Inverness

Known as the capital of the Highlands, Inverness was first established by the 6th century and is located close to two important battle sites, one in the Aird that took place in the 11th-century and the other located in Culloden Moor that took place in the 18th-century.

IHighlandsnverness stands in the mouth of the famous River Ness, so it is really easy to get to Fort George and Loch Ness from here. Home of strong tradition and culture, many will remember this city from the Outlander series. Inverness also has its own castle, built in 1836, unfortunately it is not open to public, but you can admire the building from outside.

Highlights:

  • Loch Ness
  • Fort George
  • Inverness Castle

 

Fort Augustus

Another small city, accoringly to the last census, the city has only 650 residents, BUT its here that you can take the cruise for the Loch Ness, which I really recomend!Highlands

Besides that, there you can also see the locks of the Calledonian Canal, a very intereating construction, you will find it exactly in front of the dock where you take the Loch Ness Cruise.

Highlights:

  • Loch Ness
  • Calledinian Canal
  • Loch Ness Monster Statue

Natural Place

 

Glen coe

 

Highlands

Home of the beautiful complex of mountain called Bidean nam Bian, where the most famous part is known as the Three Sisters of Glen coe. The Glen coe is part of a National Park and considered one of the most beautiful places in Scotland!

Glen coe also keep a bloody past, it was here that one of the most famous event that took place in Scotland happened in 1692, known as the Massacre of Glen coe, when the MacDonalds were persued and killed by their guests for not prompt pledging allegiance to the new monarchs.

A more modern fact though, is that Glen coe was the place chosen as the location of the Hagrid’s hut, the Harry Potter character. Unfortunately his place is not there anymore to be visited. Harry Potter was not the first movie to use the Glen coe as scenary though, another dear one was Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail.

 

Loch Ness

 

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Highlands

Do I really need to describe it?! The location of probably the most famous legend of the world: Lake Ness Monster! There are many cities on its boarder but the most famous one to visit the is Fort Augustus, there you can take the cruise and hunt for the monster. Lake Ness is long in extension and really deep, the water is so dark it looks like coke.

For those who are not really into cruises or doesnt like the idea of being in a dark, black and cold river, you can drop it and have a pic-nic instead, there are many places in it’s boarder where you can have a beautiful view while you enjoy your meal.

 

Commando Monument

 

Highlands

This is actually a man made memorial in honor of the British Commando Forces during the World War II. The memorial stands on the top of a hill, and from there, you can get a beautiful view from the Highlands!

 

Castles

 

Urqurhat Castle

 

It’s a castle besides the Loch Ness, the ruins date from 13th and 16th century but the fortification was built on another fortification dating Highlandsfrom early medieval period. The castle was held as royal castle from the 14th century to the 17th, when it was abandoned.

Now a days it is the most visited castle in Scotland and considered. It is open to the public and from the castle that sits on the top of a hill, you can have a view from the Loch Ness.

 

Eilean Donan Castle

 

HighlandsThis is probably the castle that appears more often photos. One of the most well preserved of Scotland. He is located on its own little island, and a stone bridge leads to its entrance. The castle overlooks the Isle of Skye and is surrounded by a forest.

The castle was built in the 13th as a stronghold of the Clan Mckenzie, but it was destroied in 1719 during the Jacobite rebellions. In the 20th century the castle was reconstructed, producing what we see today.

 

This is just a small list of the cool things you can visit in the Highlands. But of course the list goes on. It is impressive the number of unique places to visit in such a relativately small piece of land. There are many other castles, loads of mountains to admire and, if you are an adventure person, to hike, islands and beautiful cities.

There are tours leaving from the major cities of Scotland almost everyday. You can find many tour companies in the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. The option are many, you can take tours that goes from 1 day to 20 days! Yeah, I told you there are many things to see in the Highlands!

 

Highlands

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18 Comments

  • Reply
    Frank Hubeny
    29 de março de 2017 at 17:43

    Very nice description. It makes me want to visit there sometime.

    • Reply
      Isadora
      29 de março de 2017 at 17:55

      You should if you ever get a chance!! It is an amazing trip!!

  • Reply
    Reena | Just24Days.com
    1 de abril de 2017 at 11:48

    Gorgeous! Adding this to my travel wishlist!

  • Reply
    Madi | Restless Worker
    1 de abril de 2017 at 11:52

    Love this post! I’ve wanted to visit Scotland for as long as I can remember, I just haven’t had the chance yet. Definitely saving this for my next trip 🙂

  • Reply
    Erin
    1 de abril de 2017 at 12:10

    I studied abroad in Edinburgh and went to the highlands a couple of times! I would definitely also visit Culloden battlefield as that has a big significance in Scottish history. This post makes me want to go back!!

    • Reply
      Isadora
      1 de abril de 2017 at 23:31

      I agree with you!! Thats one of the reasons I want to go back there, last time I didn’t have a chance to visit it! :/ I definitely should

  • Reply
    Kaisa Lee
    1 de abril de 2017 at 12:11

    I love seeing anything with Urquhat Castle and Highland Cows. Awesome to see a post about the Highlands that isn’t aaaaaaalll only about Loch Ness 😛

    • Reply
      Isadora
      1 de abril de 2017 at 23:30

      hahahah Highlands has so many things to be seen, it is not fair to forget all the rest for the Loch Ness hahaha 😛

  • Reply
    Becky
    1 de abril de 2017 at 12:58

    Wow I have no idea why I have never really explored Scotland that much. I think maybe I need to book a trip and check it out!! Stunning photos too 🙂

    • Reply
      Isadora
      1 de abril de 2017 at 23:19

      You really should, you will not regret!! 😀

  • Reply
    Penelopi
    1 de abril de 2017 at 14:57

    Love Highlands!!! I was studying in Edinburgh for a year and I had the chance to visit all areas in the highlands!! Magnificent!! 🙂 Between your photos are great!!

  • Reply
    C-Ludik
    1 de abril de 2017 at 16:46

    I visited most places you describe in your post ! The city of Inverness has many beautiful old monuments, including a red sandstone castle built in the Victorian style overlooking the river Ness. Driving along Loch Ness, we passed beautiful scenery, majestic valleys and mysterious ruins like Urquhart Castle… so much good memories 🙂

  • Reply
    Brooklyn
    1 de abril de 2017 at 16:49

    Wow beautiful photos! I would love to explore the Scottish Highlands.

  • Reply
    Renee
    1 de abril de 2017 at 18:17

    Love this post! I have always dreamed of visiting Scotland so thank you for sharing your tips 🙂

  • Reply
    Helen
    2 de abril de 2017 at 06:27

    Lovely pics! I’m from the UK and still haven’t visited the Highlands, I think that needs to be fixed soon 🙂 Thanks for this useful list of sights!

  • Reply
    Delilah
    3 de abril de 2017 at 06:09

    Such an informative guide! I like all the contemporary and historical facts you included. (I feel like) Scotland is really underrated, and this guide totally makes me want to go.

  • Reply
    Stephanie
    3 de abril de 2017 at 07:39

    This looks amazing and is definitely on my list of places to go! I hadn’t considered going in winter but something about the snow makes your photos look so charming! I especially am intrigued by the two castles 🙂 so beautiful! Great to know that there are tours as well in the case that you didn’t want to rent a car. Great post !

  • Reply
    Paul
    26 de abril de 2017 at 17:48

    Beautiful Scotland is one of our favorite countries. Thanks for sharing!

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