2) The Scottish Landscape – Where to go
Where in Scotland should you visit? The Highlands and Islands are home to most of Scotland’s mountains, and hence are where most people like to hike. But there is tremendous variation from area to area so one place is very different from another. We break it down into the following regions:
The West Highlands
A stunning view of the Black Cuillin mountains on Skye
Scotland is a small country that boasts nearly 10,000km of coastline. The West Coast is the most famous and is home to hundreds of spectacular mountains, glens and lochs. This is classic Scotland, with high shapely peaks, stunning greenery and rich in coastal wildlife such as basking sharks, dolphins and otters.
The North West Highlands
Descending Stac Polly in Assynt
The further north you go the wilder and wilder it gets. The towering mountains are more spaced out up here and you can explore landscapes made of truly ancient stone. The coast is a blend of rocky shore, sandy beaches and towering cliffs. Inland you can find vast empty spaces and quiet lochs.
The Cairngorms and Central Highlands
Waiting for the Steam train in Aviemore
In the middle of the country the hills are wide and rolling, covered in heather. Perhaps not quite the drama and fame of the west coast but that’s made up for with beautiful ancient forests, rare wildlife such as osprey, red squirrel and pine marten – plus slightly drier weather! In late summer and autumn these areas really come into their own.
The Inner Hebrides
These are the Scottish islands that lie closer to the mainland than their cousins in the Outer Hebrides. They are astonishingly varied from jagged black mountains of the Isle of Skye to the gentle hills of Islay. The Small Isles just off the coast of Arisaig are a true Scottish gem and as different as they are beautiful.
The Outer Hebrides
A world apart, the Outer Hebrides are a haven of wilderness on the Atlantic fringe of Europe. Unique landscapes including rolling green hills, blue lagoons and white sand beaches to die for. The weather is constantly changing, but when the sun shines you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven as you stroll through the coastal wildflower meadows.
Shetland and Orkney
Walking around the incredible landscapes of Orkney
Scotland’s ‘Northern Isles’ each have their own character, but in both places, you’ll find astonishing history from ancient times to modern, abundant wildlife and green islands bounded by dramatic shores. In springtime, they are a fantastic place to visit to find rare birds and enjoy the long, long daylight hours.