True Highlands Blog
The clocks have changed and the Beltane bonfires built, so it seems like the right time to plan adventures for the summer. The Highlands have so much to offer it would be impossible to experience everything on one visit, but here are a selection from each of our True Highland areas to add to your to-do list.
Savour a single malt on Speyside
Glenfarclas is one of the last remaining independent distilleries in Speyside having been owned by the same family for more than 150 years. A tour and tasting of some of the family’s own 50 year old casks in the unique splendour of the Ship’s Room, created from the fixtures of the infamous colonial ship the Empress of Australia is truly an exceptional experience.
Watch the sun set on the West Coast
Callanish standing stones is one of the most atmospheric places in Scotland, it is free to access the site and an absolutely stunning location to watch the sun go down. On the longest day of the year people from all over the country congregate here to catch the sunrise in the same way our Neolithic ancestors would have over 5000 years ago.
Catch a wave in Kintyre
Macrihanish Beach is a stunning stretch of golden sand that faces out to the Atlantic. This is one of the factors that make it one of the most reliable surf spots in the country. Tuition and rentals are available on site and the wide open spaces mean you should never have to queue up for that perfect wave.
Step back in time in Caithness
Whaligoe Steps are like a miniature history lesson. As you descend the steep stone stairs down the side of a sea cliff you travel back to an era of industry and hardship. The remarkable remnants of the miniature harbour and salt store at the bottom serve as a reminder of the incredible physical toll of carrying salted barrels of fish up the 360 steps.
Get Fed in Lochinver
Skye by boat and single-track road
Now the Kyle ferry is just a cherished memory, the most evocative way to arrive to Skye is on the Glenelg Ferry. This tiny boat is the last manually operated turntable ferry in operation, a throwback to old fashioned days of slow travel. The drive to the pier is also a worthy excursion in its own right, at the end of a twisty but oh so scenic single-track road.
Putt for par on Royal Dornoch
The best course in the country? Don’t just take our word for it, Royal Dornoch was recently voted No.1 in Scotland by none other than Golf Digest. No small accolade when you consider the competition. A second but equally scenic course the Struie has been built nearby and offers entertainment for the whole family with a modest green fee.
Get down with dolphins on the Black Isle
Nowhere beats Chanonry Point for its reliability or ease of access for spotting dolphins. The newly upgraded facilities means it’s easier to park there than ever, but in a way it would be a shame to miss out on the beautiful walk to the lighthouse over the sandy beach from Rosemarkie.
Climb a castle ramparts on the shores of Loch Ness
Urquhart Castle is a fabulous ruin with picturesque views over the Loch. It is interactive and child friendly and has more reputed Nessie sightings than any other place along the loch. The site is expansive with loads to explore and should be the one castle on every visitor’s agenda.
Peer inside a volcano on Ardnamurchan
It has been a million years since the last volcanic activity on Ardnamurchan but the remnants of a massive crater remain clearly visible today. Geology students have long been aware of the significance of this site but now with its new Geopark status more and more visitors are investigating the fascinating history of this area and hiking along the volcanic ring dyke and caldera, evidence of the area’s turbulent past.
Ogle an old man in Orkney
The Old Man of Hoy is one of the most iconic rock features in the country. A gravity defying sea stack that rises 140 metres vertically from the ocean. It can be seen from the Stromness ferry or a highly recommended walk from Rackwick, along the spectacular sea cliffs. For experienced climbers it is one of the most sought after ascents, a once in a lifetime opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Sir Chris Bonington.
Outlander around Inverness
The Clava Cairns have become, since the mega success of the Outlander books and TV series, the number one attraction in the area. Quite apart from their new found celebrity is the fact that they are also an interesting attraction in their own right. The three burial cairns have stood here on the outskirts of the town for four thousand years and align with the midwinter sunset. Crawl along the passages that link them and see if you can spot the cup-and-ring marks and examples of prehistoric rock-art.
Bag the Ben in Lochaber
Ben Nevis is Britain’s tallest mountain and a must do for any reasonably fit visitor to Fort William. Although the tallest of the Scottish Munros it is by no means the hardest to summit as the beginning of the walk is relatively easy to access and the path to the top is well maintained, but never underestimate the difficulties that can be caused by the fickle Scottish weather. On a clear day the views from the summit are breath-taking, a panorama encompassing the west coast, the islands and the Grey Corries.
Sail to St Kilda
A number of companies on the Hebrides offer day trips to this, one of the most remote outposts of Scotland. The dramatic scenery, incredible social history and fascinating natural history are just some of the reasons to visit. It’s a truly unique experience to set foot on this UNESCO world heritage site, a well preserved window to what seems now like a completely different world.
We’re sure you have your own suggestions for must-do’s in the Highlands and Islands and would welcome your comments and suggestions for others!Tags: ardnamurchan geology, Ben Nevis, black-isle dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, bucket list, callanish, clava cairns, dornoch golf, fishing history, glenfarclas, inverness attractions, kintyre, Loch Ness, lochinver, machrihanish, moray firth dolphins, old man of hoy, orkney stacks, Outer Hebrides, outlander, sail to st kilda, Scottish mountains, scottish produce, skye ferry, speyside whisky, struie golf, sunset, surfing, sutherland, things to do in scotland, urquhart castle, visitor attractions in the highlands, volcano, whaligoe steps