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Top 5 Epic Scottish Landscapes

Posted on Jan 28, 2013 by Robin McKelvie

I’m pleased to share my top 5 epic Scottish landscapes after many years of enjoying them. Scotland is one of those few countries whose landscapes look like they must have been touched up on a computer or reworked in a glitzy Hollywood studio.

Surely the craggy mountains just cannot be so utterly dramatic, the mist-shrouded lochs just cannot shimmer so poetically in a glint of sunshine and those wild Atlantic waters just cannot be so cobalt blue? I make 20-30 trips around Scotland a year as a travel writer and I can reassure you they are and they do.

Scotland’s epic landscapes never cease to amaze me. Many people think of Scotland as a small country. It may only be home to five million people, but it is certainly not small. Scotland boasts over 10% of Europe’s total coastline, over 800 islands and even when you take away those myriad islands the nation’s littoral is still vaster than that of either England, France or Germany.

Then there are the mountains, which come in all shapes and sizes, hewn from an array of rocks from Torridian Sandstone through to the exotic sounding Lewisian Gneiss. Some 282 of them are classified as Munros, which are, of course, mountains that vault up over 3,000ft (a touch over 914m). There are, though, myriad more mountains, hills and mounds worth rambling up and around.

I’ve been lucky over the years to get to experience so many different landscapes, often on trips with Wilderness Scotland. Their guides have had me awestruck seeing the Paps of Jura from a yacht, appreciating Speyside whisky country in a totally different way on a mountain bike and up more mountains than my knees care to remember. Wilderness Scotland offer direct access into some of the most dramatic, remote and utterly wild corners of Europe, corners that I never tire of discovering and corners that they seem to have an never-ending treasure trove of to offer.

My Top 5 Epic Scottish Landscapes to Visit

 

1. St Kilda

St Kilda

So remarkable that UNESCO have placed the islands on their coveted World Heritage list not once, but twice. Once for their nature and again for their intriguing human heritage. I fell in love with them for their epic nature. St Kilda is an otherworldly escape of sheer cliffs, Tolkien-esque rocks and deserted hills. It is an oasis alive with everything from species only found here, through to killer whales and a fifth of the world’s gannet population.

2. Knoydart

Knoydart

You cannot get into the most remote spot on the UK mainland by road, rail or plane, so it’s a long hike or a boat ride in. It is worth it, though, for the sweeping Munros, the lochs of ‘heaven’ and ‘hell’ and a landscape where man definitely plays second fiddle to nature. That you can view the epic peaks of Skye across the water just makes Knoydart more irresistible still.

3. Outer Hebrides

The Outer Hebrides

This sinewy 130-mile long archipelago stretches its tentacles across the remote Atlantic in a riot of remarkable landscapes. In the west the islands are fringed by starched white sand beaches that are backed up by machair flowers in the sweeping sand dunes. Inland lie more rugged, little explored hills, while the east coast has its own charms, especially Harris with its otherworldly volcanic scenery unlike anywhere else in the UK.

  • Check out all of our holidays that visit the Outer Hebrides here.

4. The Cairngorms

Cairngorms

The UK’s most extensive mountain plateau is a remarkable natural oasis with not a town or village in sight. This vast natural playground is a Mecca for walkers and climbers year round, as well as Winter Sports enthusiasts. This mountain studded harsh wilderness is unrelenting, unforgiving and starkly, wonderfully beguiling.

5. The Cuillin

Cuillin

The most striking mountain range in the UK offers some of the continent’s finest climbing. Mere mortals can just gaze from afar at the paper maiche-like peaks or hike around Loch Coruisk on the Isle of Skye taking in the epic natural panoramas that unfold all around. The landscapes of the Cuillin never fail to impress me especially after a few months without them and they are right up there with anything I have seen in over a decade and a half of travelling to 100 countries.

Check out some more of Scotland’s most iconic places on our Locations page.

Like this post? Read Top 5 Most Dramatic Walks in the Highlands.

Essential Reading

 

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Robin McKelvie

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