Whenever we hear about the Highlands of Scotland, known just as the Highlands, our mind travels to endless valleys surrounded by mountains and impressive cliffs. Scotland is a land of legends and mysteries par excellence, the home of the famous Loch Ness monster. A territory of incalculable historical and cultural value, but also one of the great adventure locations in Europe. In this post, we will go into the sea of nature these Celtic lands hide to discover what to see in Scotland.
Do you dare to know the Highlands with us?
We begin our adventure stopping at Scotland’s best-known lake, Loch Ness. Who hasn’t heard of the legend of the most famous monster on the European continent?
Loch Ness is one of the main tourist attractions of the Highlands for the famous legend of the monster that lives there, Nessie. Although there are different theories and even pictures of this creature, it’s said it’s difficult to see, since this lake is the deepest one in Scotland. In addition, it’s full of underwater caves, ideal for Nessie to hide from tourists.
Leaving the legend aside, this lake is worth visiting; as it is the second largest lake in Scotland, with an extension of 37 kilometers, and is surrounded by an amazing landscape, typical of the Scottish lands. In the lake, we can enjoy several activities like a small boat ride, visiting a place dedicated to the famous monster and, of course, taking a photo with the statue of Nessie are some of the things we shouldn’t miss.
If these wonderful places are too far away from where you are, you can always change the route by boat on Loch Ness for a boat ride in El Tranco reservoir, within the largest protected area in Spain. We don’t have a monster, but the views are equally incredible.
Our second stop is the capital of the Highlands and the largest city in Northern Scotland, Inverness. Famous for its floral exhibitions in summer and for its particular landscape where the rivers flow among the meadows, where we can find sheep grazing. Much of the tourism it receives is due to its proximity to Loch Ness, as the Ness River runs through this city to reach the famous lake.
We continue our journey through the Scottish lands arriving at the Isle of Skye. If you are a true nature lover, you are in the right place. Green landscapes, waterfalls, cliffs… are some of the wonders you can see on this island. It’s essential for you to bring your camera, because you will want to have a memory of the wonderful places and animals that inhabit this place.
Strolling along the west coast of the island until reaching the Neist Point lighthouse is a delight for our senses. You will admire spectacular views where the main characters are enormous cliffs that will surely remind you of the incredible cliffs of Moher, in Ireland. This is home to numerous species of seabirds such as the kittiwake, boreal fulmars and shaggy cormorants. Also, it is a privileged space to watch several cetaceans such as whales, dolphins and the basking shark.
Other cliffs that will leave you breathless are the well-known Kilt Rock, located in the north of the island, just 10 kilometers away from Portree, on the Trotternish peninsula. These cliffs owe their name to their resemblance to the folds of the typical kilt. In them, you can see the Mealt Waterfall, an impressive 60 meters high waterfall which flows into the sea.
Also, on the Trotternish peninsula we find the Quiraing, probably one of the most famous spots on the island. It’s a magical place where we can watch an authentic volcanic landscape, the result of massive lava flows running towards the sea. If you want to enjoy and know in depth the wonders that this part of Scotland hides, wear on comfortable footwear and take the full route. Surely, it will be 4 hours of your life that you’ll remember forever.
On our trip to the Trotternish peninsula, when going on the search of the famous Quiraing, we can’t miss the chance of seeing the real Scottish cow. There is a herd of these magnificent cows in a small farm that is between Portree and Uig. Time to take a selfie with one of them!
If you enjoy photographing the Scottish cows, don’t miss this chance to photograph the largest mammal in Europe, the bison, a distant cousin of the bovine family.
As well as finding imposing cliffs, on the Isle of Skye, we highlight the mountain landscape of basaltic origin of the Cuillins mountain range, where we find the well-known Old Man of Storr.
It’s a 55 meters high rock monolith that looks like a sat man facing the ocean. This place is ideal for enjoying a little hike in the mountains and discover the heart of this area, where Lake Coruisk is located.
While climbers will be fascinated by the Black Cuillin, which is the Cuillins’ highest and steepest peak, hikers will enjoy the more accessible land that sits among the pink granite mountains, the Red Cuillin. In your ascent to these mountains, you will meet the famous Fairy Pools waterfalls, forming swimming pools along the Brittle River. If you are a brave adventurer you can even enjoy a dip in them.
Finally, you can go to the Coral Beach located in Claigan, north of the island. Beach characterized by white sand, which is actually formed by the remains of the red seaweed Maërl. In this coastal spot you can see the seals fishing on the shore. You can also spot colonies of friendly seals in Elgol, southwest of Skye, from a nice cruise ship that leaves from the port.
The valley of Glencoe is our next destination, a place full of history and where we can see some of the most beautiful landscapes in the Celtic lands.
This valley was the scenery of the famous massacre in 1962, when 38 members from the MacDonald clan were killed, in addition to 40 other women and children who died when they ran out of shelter. Undoubtedly, a sad chapter in the history of Scotland that happened in this place, which Charles Dickens baptized as “the cemetery of a race of giants”.
But Glencoe, besides being known for that awful fact, offers us an enviable landscape. In fact, it owes its geography to the presence of ancient glaciers that conquered these lands. This valley hosts many alpine species such as forest hyacinths, covering the soil of the ancient Scottish forests with color.
As for the wildlife, deer, martens, otters and wild cats are the most common inhabitants of this place. But they are not the only ones; We can find golden eagles that, together with gulls and ducks, are the most characteristic avifauna of the place. Finally, it should be said that there is an exhibition about the history and nature of Glencoe in its visitor center. If you are curious and you have a bit of time, you can visit it and learn more about this valley.
CAIRNGORMS NATIONAL PARK
In our eagerness to discover the most beautiful corners in Scotland, we arrived at the Cairngorms National Park. And you will wonder: what is special about this place? Well, it’s the largest National Park in the United Kingdom and one of the few remaining wild spaces in Europe. We are in front of 4,500 kilometers where old forests are combined with valleys and majestic mountains, finding here the highest peaks of the country.
This National Park is home to the red deer, wild cats, golden eagles and red squirrels. If your passion is discovering natural spaces, you can’t miss this gift from the Scottish lands. If what you really like is the mountain and you feel at home thanks to snowy areas, don’t hesitate to visit the ski resort that is right after Glenshee. Warm up and enjoy this winter landscape!
Our trip ends in the Wester Ross region, located in the northeast to the Highlands. Undoubtedly, the wildest side of Scotland and one of the most beautiful regions of these lands.
Right in front of us, inhospitable landscapes appear, enchanted and full of mystery places; where the Loch Maree rests between two mountains, waiting to be discovered by the most curious visitors. And the fourth largest lake in Scotland welcomes several islands covered by vegetation in its waters, among which the Maree Island stands out, presenting some clear evidence of some people living in it, the Scottish druids.
But this is not all. The Loch Maree is really known for the healing properties of its waters and because it’s home to a relative of Nessie. Yes, indeed, Loch Ness is not the only lake having a monster living in its waters. Surprised?
The Scottish Highlands hide several secrets and places to discover. You’ll find great natural spaces, landscapes to fall in love with, infinite lakes, beautiful cliffs, life and more life in every corner to explore here. They are a gift for our senses and you won’t be able to get this place out of your mind.
What are you waiting for?