Things to Do in The Scottish Highlands
Hairpin bends aren’t just for the Alps. At Bealach Na Ba Pass in the remote Scottish Highlands, you can drive along the greatest road ascent in Britain. Full of twists and turns through the remote Highland landscape, the historic road runs from the pretty coastal village of Applecross right through the mountains up to 2,054 feet, making it the third-highest road in Scotland.
The drive can be a little scary at times, but just take it slow and be courteous enough to use the passing places. Local etiquette on Scotland’s single-track roads is to give the person who "gives way" a cheery wave or raise of the hand to say thanks. When you get to the top of Bealach Na Ba, enjoy the views across the sea out to the isles of Skye, Rum and the Outer Hebrides. From the top car park, there are some great peaks to explore if you’re an experienced hiker, and as you’re already over 2,000 feet up, half the work has already been done for you.
Duncansby Head, located in northern Scotland, is the northernmost point on the British mainland. It is a set of dramatic sandstone cliffs that overlook the sea. Some of the cliffs reach up to 200 feet high. Exploring the area along the coastal pathway will give you a great opportunity to see some of the region's unique seabirds and other wildlife. Some of the birds you might see include guillemot, kittiwakes, and puffins, depending on the time of year.
From Duncansby Head, visitors will have a view of the Duncansby Stacks, a group of large jagged sea rocks, and Thirle Door, a rocky arch. Sometimes it is also possible to catch a glimpse of some of the sea life here, including seals, dolphins, minke and killer whales. The nearby village of John O'Groats is the northernmost settlement on the mainland of Britain, and the Duncansby Head Lighthouse marks the northernmost point.
The Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition was established in 1980 to give insight and explore the biodiversity of Loch Ness in Scotland. The lake has become famous for the legend of the Loch Ness Monster, also known as Nessie, which has lived here for centuries, according to Scots. The Loch Ness Centre teaches visitors about Scottish folklore, Scotland's geological past, and the environment surrounding the lake. The museum explores the history of the region from its earliest history through present day.
The Loch Ness Centre presents facts about Loch Ness and Nessie in an interesting and entertaining way. There are seven themed rooms and uses a mixture of animations, lasers and special effects. Visitors are given the opportunity to learn about the research that has been done and make their own decision about the legend of the Loch Ness Monster.
Brodie Castle is a 16th-century castle near Inverness, Scotland. It was the seat of the Brodie Clan from 1567 until 1980 when the National Trust took over ownership. The castle retains some aspects of its 16th-century construction, such as the vaulted guard house, along with elements from its 19th-century renovations. The National Trust has restored the castle to show what everyday life might have looked like for one of Scotland's most ancient clans. Visitors can explore the towers, passageways, and different rooms of the castle. The castle contains artwork, antique furniture, and other unusual artifacts, and the library holds approximately 6,000 volumes.
The outside of Brodie Castle is worth exploring as well. The estate covers an area of about 175 acres including landscaped gardens, a large pond, a walled garden, a wooded walkway, and a nature trail with observation hides for viewing wildlife.
Established in 1951, Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve in the Scottish Highlands is Great Britain's oldest national nature reserve. It covers an area of more than 18 square miles ranging from lochs to mountains. The nature reserve is home to many rare plants and protected animals, including red deer, golden eagles, and pine martens. Several hiking trails of varying difficulty are available for exploring the area. Three paths that start near the visitor center are open all year. For those looking for longer hikes, there is a woodland trail that goes through the ancient pine forest, and a mountain trail that climbs into the mountainous terrain and offers a more strenuous excursion. Beinn Eighe itself is a huge cluster of rugged mountains, ridges, and scree-covered slopes between Loch Maree and Glen Torridon. This area offers opportunities for more challenging trekking for more experienced hikers.
The wooded hilltop of Tomnahurich, or the ‘Hill of the Yews’, is one of Inverness’ most prominent landmarks, a glacial esker located a mile out of the city center. The summit, a steep 67-meter peak overlooking the Caledonian Canal, is home to a war memorial and the 18th and 19th century cemetery of the same name, with notable burials including Major-General Sir Robert Adams and submariner Rear Admiral Sir Anthony Capel Miers – both holders of the Victorian Cross medal.
Despite its poignant memorials, Tomnahurich remains most famous for its folklore legends. If you believe the myths, the hill is the seat of the Fairy Queen and a local fairytale tells the tall tale of the two traveling fiddlers who were tricked into playing for the fairies and disappeared for a hundred years.
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