North Highlands & Western Isles
This is Scotland at its most rugged, with mountains, wilderness and flow country where there are more sheep than people, idyllic seascapes and inland classic Scottish glens. Roads are few, many single track making journeys time consuming. The 3 billion year old islands of Skye, Harris and Lewis, and the smaller ones of Barra, Eriskay and Benbecula are the oldest parts of Scotland. Visiting needs at least a week!
Stunning Landscapes and Views with the ‘Wow’ Factor
- Views down Loch Ness - The infamous loch that stretches for 23 miles (36 km) is part of the Caledonian Canal. Sighting the monster is highly unlikely but the view more than compensates for it.
- The Torridon Hills and Loch Maree -The Wester Ross sandstone and white quartz mountains dominate the stunning landscape with ancient Caledonian pine covered islands on several of the lochs.
- The Quirang on the Island of Skye - The single track road clings to a route around ancient rock features and landslips that have created a series of precipitous peaks. A famous pillar rock in the area is The Storr.
- The Bealach na Ba Pass to Applecross in Wester Ross - Not for the faint hearted a single track road with altitude and attitude that offers awesome views over Strathcarron. Simply stunning.
- The Cullin - A mountain range on the Isle of Skye formed from the oldest rocks in Scotland. Very distinctive jagged peaks, visible all over the island are a constant backdrop to spectacular views.
- Glen Affric Nature Reserve - One of Scotland’s natural jewels. Virtually the last place with ancient Caledonian pines and a rare wealth of wildlife like capercaillie and pine martin. Scenic lochs and glens.
Some Attraction Ideas
- Gardens.- Highland gardens contend well with harsh winters and summer weather that can see all four seasons in a day: two of the best are Inverewe Gardens and Attadale Gardens. Completely different and innovative is the experimental Coigach Hydroponicium (Garden of the future)
- Castles - Wide selection available; Eilean Donan Castle (Loch Duich), Dunvegan Castle (Isle of Skye), Urquart Castle (ruins perched above Loch Ness), Castle of Mey, (now owned by Prince Charles), Kisimul Castle (Isle of Barra), Castle Varrich (a Norse legacy ruin), Carbisdale Castle (neo Gothic).
- The village of Ullapool - A small but quaint fishing village, one of the embarkation ports for crofters forced to seek a new life in the USA and Canada during the Highland Clearances.
- The Caledonian Canal - Four natural lochs of the Great Glen interconnected by man-made canals to form a waterway that divides Scotland. Built in the early 1800’s it has 29 locks with one flight of eight called Neptune’s Staircase.
- Dornoch and Moray Firths -The best coastline from which to watch dolphins, whales and seals that often come in-shore. The many little villages and bays along the coast provide good vantage points.
- The white sandy beaches of South Uist - Deserted, endless beaches that rival any in the Caribbean.
A Small Selection of Historical Sites
- Gearrannan Blackhouse Village, Lewis - A restored village depicting island life and traditional crofting. Thatched roof cottages called Blackhouses, due to burning peat for heat and cooking and tiny windows.
- The Glenelg Brochs - Built in the Iron Age these 2,000 year old partially ruined circular towers would have been occupied by the Picts when this area of Scotland was known as PIctland and fought over with the Gaels, who occupied the islands. Unusual as there are two together although not well preserved.
- Glenfinnan and Loch Shiel - A tower now stands at the end of Loch Shiel to mark the place where Bonnie Prince Charlie gathered the highland clans to fight for him in the 1745 rebellion. Fantastic viewpoint from the top of the tower; west down Loch Shiel and then to the east the famous Glenfinnan railway viaduct.
- The Commando Monument, Spean Bridge - Commandos trained here during WW2, now commemorated in a magnificent bronze statue that has Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis as its backdrop. The Commando Museum is nearby.
- The Calanais Standing Stones, Isle of Lewis - A cruciform pattern of tall standing stones with an inner circle of 13 stones and a central 4.8m high monolith. Erected over 5,000 years ago (Neolithic period) they are older than the Pyramids of Giza.
- The Corrimony Cairn - A good example of a chambered cairn near Loch Ness. Thought to be the burial chamber of a Chieftain, around 3,500 years old.
Some Sleepy Sporran Off Grid Secrets
- The Mam Ratagan Pass and Glenelg Ferry to Skye - The old Drover's road and still the most atmospheric way to approach the mythical Isle of Skye. A route definitely not lacking in views and wildlife.
- The Falls of Measach - This 164 foot cascade of glacial melt waters offers spectacular viewing from a precarious viewing platform or a swaying Victorian suspension bridge.
- The village of Sandaig - Site of the house where naturalist Gavin Maxwell and his otters lived in 1950’s, culminating in the film, Ring of Bright Water. Fantastic loch and mountain views and probably otters.
- The stunning views from Elgol, Isle of Skye - A long winding single track road leads to the little remote harbour of Elgol with rewarding views. The place where many traditional highland wedding parties are piped ashore following their romantic ceremonies across the bay at Loch Coruisk.
- The free range Duirinish Highland Coos - A village that loves its highland coos so much they have the complete freedom to wander where and when they wish. An opportunity to get up close and personal!
- The white sandy beach on the Isle of Bernaray - Where the only sound is likely to be crashing waves.