Scottish Highlands Back to Scotland


Courtesy of Glen Affric

Though Scotland’s sovereignty has been contested since the Middle Ages, its national identity has never languished. No region of the country more readily evokes the indomitable spirit of the Scottish people than the Highlands. Once home to seasoned crofters and fiercely loyal clansmen, it is still a land of distant moors and defiant mountainscapes.

Cheat Sheet

  • Play…golf until the midsummer sun goes down, usually around 10:00 pm.
  • Splurge…on a few nights at a private hunting lodge in bewitching Glen Affric.
  • Learn…some new skills at Gleneagles‘ renowned gundog and falconry schools.
  • Savor…cozy naps on drizzly afternoons.
  • Visit…the ruins of Urquhart Castle on the banks of storied Loch Ness.
  • Indulge…in a whisky nightcap and a classic novel before drifting off to sleep.
  • Eat…a meal at the Three Chimneys on Skye’s remote northwestern coast.
  • Know…that pesky Highland midges are most likely to strike on humid summer days.

Lay of the Land

Culturally and historically, the Highlands are tantamount to Gaelic-speaking Scotland. Geographically, they are a vast and lonely sweep of crags, bogs, lochs and glens that reach northwest from the rugged Grampian Mountains, comprising one of the most sparsely populated territories in all of Europe. Though the region’s eastern periphery resists orderly delineation, Highlands and Lowlands are theoretically divided by the Highland Boundary Fault, which bisects Scotland on a diagonal, running from the Isle of Arran to Aberdeen.

Somewhat confusingly, while “Highland” is the name of one of Scotland’s thirty-two administrative subdivisions, the “Scottish Highlands” traditionally span a larger area, spilling over into the subdivisions of Moray, Perth and Kinross, Stirling, Argyll and Bute and Na h’-Eileanan Siar (as the still predominantly Gaelic-speaking Western Isles are known). Thus the Highlands extend west from the whisky distilleries and salmon fisheries of Speyside to the baronial estates of the Great Glen to the abandoned crofters’ cottages of the Outer Hebrides – emerging as one great green wilderness flecked with drowsy flocks of flaxen sheep.

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Beyond… Scottish Highlands

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