I love the Highlands of Scotland; I can’t stay away. Here’s why.
#1 The Weather Seriously, I love the weather! But then, I only visit Scotland in September or October. I know better than to go in summer when the biting midges are thick as tourists. Autumn in the Highlands can be glorious, even hot, as it was when my husband and I sat in blazing sun and 85˚ temps watching the Pitlochry Highland Games.
Or the weather can be grim: drizzling down my neck, a mass of low clouds not letting us see the mountains surrounding Glen Coe two out of three times through.
But I love it. Something about the air in the Highlands makes the ever-changing clouds stand out in vivid color; purple, gray, and blue clouds boil up and morph again, driven by Highland wind.
#2 Sparse Population At a population density of fewer than twenty-five people per square mile, the Highlands is a good place to get far from the maddening crowd. Some areas it seems there are more sheep than people, especially when cresting a blind summit on a hairpin turn and encountering a small flock of the blighters who aren’t in a hurry to get out of the single track road. A blind summit, by the way, is when your car hood is pointing up at such an incline you can’t see over it, and therefore, you can’t see the road.
#3 Water It’s everywhere: the sea, rivers, rushing burns, lochs. I love water! And I’m never far from water in the Highlands. Amber-tinged burns tumble down the hillsides over rocks and slip quietly under overhanging heather. I once observed a dapper-suited gentleman get out of his car and walk a short way up the hill to bend down and dip a jar in the peaty stream—presumably collecting branch water for his single malt.
#4 Mountains Driving through the mountains in Wester Ross, the northwest part of the Highlands, I was struck that the mountains there are no less grand than the Rockies in the US. Granite crags jut up forming majestic mountain ranges that aren’t easy to drive through; the roads are much more narrow than we’re used to in the US.
#5 The History The British think 100 miles is a long way, and Americans think 100 years is a long time. I’ve pressed my hand against the Callanish Stones erected on the Isle of Lewis between 2900-2600 BC.
I stood at the base of the steps running between the walls of Dun Carloway, a broch built in the first century for a community residence and defense.
But a historical high was staying in the keep of Kilravock Castle near Croy, northeast of Inverness. Our bedroom was just below where Mary Queen of Scots slept when she visited in 1562 . The keep, dating to 1460, was already a hundred years old by the time Mary got there.
I love the Highlands of Scotland!