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The Traveller's Magazine
  •   3 min read

Is anyone surprised that Scotland is predicted to be one of the hottest (in terms of popularity, not weather) summer destination for UK travellers? The Scottish Highlands feed the poetic soul in a way that no other destination can. Grab your kilt, it’s off to the Highlands we go!

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The Scottish Highlands are a mysterious sort of place. It has deep lakes, covered in mist in the mornings, tall peaks, the highest in Britain. The history is soaked in bloody battles fought ages ago over castles now crumbled. Mythical creatures and stories of Vikings… it’s not all grey clouds and melancholy here though. The summer afternoons are blessed with sun, so there’s no reason not to hit the Highlands this year.

Scotland’s north is rugged and expansive, to say the least. To get there you will need to catch flights to Aberdeen and from there, head north in a rental car.

[googlemap src=”http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=211324119081008894713.0004a16946bff03c5b604&z=6″]

Hermaness

Puffin

Does playing with puffins suit your fancy? Head to the far north of Britain and you’ll find these happy birds in their nesting grounds. Hermaness is the northern-most point of Unst, an island of Shetland. The landscape is all about sea cliffs and moorland here, the perfect place for puffins. You won’t just find puffins here though, other animals and birds using this area for breeding include: fulmars, gannets, shags, great skuas and guillemots.

Cuillin Hills

Cuillin Hills

Rugged hills and tricky climbs, these hills on the Isle of Skye are not for the faint of heart or the weak in legs. If you do take them on though, the rewards and views are worth every step. Black Cuillin is distinguished by its very rough rock, making it quite easy to climb up. You can reach most of the peaks quite easily following the pre-established routes or follow the traverse which takes you across the entire ridge which takes 15-20 hours to complete.

Mousa Broch

Mousa Broch

If you thought Vikings only live in stories today, Mousa Broch will convince you otherwise. It’s the best-preserved Iron Age broch tower in the world today, standing just over 13m tall in Shetland. It’s considered one of the finest prehistoric buildings in all of Europe, constructed around 100 BC. What is a broch? It’s a hollow-wall structure, circular in shape, used for (some think) military or defensive purposes but it’s not clear. In any case, if you find one along your way, stop and check it out!

Cawdor Castle

Cawdor Castle

10 miles from Inverness, driving up to this castle is like stepping back in time. You can almost see Shakespeare’s Macbeth pacing the hallways are you tour the inside. Built in the mid-1400s, it’s not just a collection of stone walls, but a complete restored mansion which is still in use today by the Cawdor family. Apart from the castle, there are beautiful gardens and even a 9-hole golfing course nearby, if you’re into the whole golfing thing.

Find more information at cawdorcastle.com.

St Magnus Cathedral

St Magnus Cathedral

This stunning Romanesque church dominates the cityscape of small-town Kirkwall on the island or Orkney. Is was founded in 1137 and built out of local sandstone, distinguishably red.  Unique from other churches in Britain, there is a dungeon in the basement of this one with a holding cell. Prisoners in the 16th century used to be pushed down a slide from a trapdoor in the floor into Marwick’s Hole, leaving the prisoner in total darkness and with no way of escape.

Have you ever toured the Scottish Highlands? Which places did you visit?

Imgs: thumb: carly & art / puffins: pete + lynne / cuillin hills: wiki / mousa broch: swifant / castle: tyo / cathedral: robert scarth, Flickr cc.

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