Pocket Britain
Britain > Scotland > Scottish Highlands

Taking up more than half of the country's mainland, the Highlands embody all the images of the rugged, mountainous Scotland that can be seen on countless postcards and photographs

Listen to this article
Taking up more than half of the country's mainland, the Highlands embody all the images of the rugged, mountainous Scotland that can be seen on countless postcards and photographs. It is vastly different to the populous and urban valleys of the Lowlands, to the south. In fact, there are very few people living here at all - it is less crowded here than almost anywhere else in Europe.
The Highlanders that remain are quite likely to speak Scottish Gaelic, a traditional language which has been declining in recent years. Street signs here will use Gaelic - but don't worry, they always have English too! Locals speak English too, but often with a strong dialect, known as "Highland English".
Much of the area is dominated by mountains, in particular the Grampian range, which stretches most of the way across the country. It includes the highest peak in Great Britain, Ben Nevis, which rises up to 1,344 metres above sea level. The mountain is ascended by up to 100,000 people a year, and is one of the UK's most popular sites for both rock and ice climbing. The summit itself contains a ruined observatory from the 19th century, as well as a memorial to those who died in World War II. Slightly more unusually, and to their immense surprise, recent climbers discovered a full-size grand piano up there! It is thought to have been carried up by removal men around 20 years ago, as a stunt to raise money for charity.
The Highlands are also home to many of Scotland's lakes, including Loch Lomond, the largest in the UK by surface area, and Loch Ness, the largest by volume. The latter is also, of course, home to the mythical Loch Ness Monster, a huge, dinosaur-like beast that may or may not be hiding in the murky depths. The lakes are also popular for water sports, meaning that there are very few outdoor activities which can't be indulged in here, whether it's hanging off a mountain, or speeding across the water on a jet ski.
But the Highlands aren't all wilderness. The area's capital - and only city - is Inverness, a place that's actually growing faster than anywhere else in Europe. It has a popular and growing university and college, which attracts young people from across the nation. It has been described as the most important development in the entire Highland region. Inverness also has a strong cultural presence, most notably hosting the most important bagpiping competition in the world. The city also puts on annual music festivals, sports competitions, and the Highland games, a celebration of Scottish culture that includes games, music, and dance.
So make sure not to write the Highlands off as a backwater area with nothing going on. With its numerous sports, a rapidly-growing city, and of course, some of the most impressive views in the country, there's very little here that you can't do.

Back ~ Top ~ Home ~ Index

Pocket Britain is optimised for use on a smartphone or tablet with internet access. All content is subject to copyright. All reasonable methods have been used to ensure information supplied is accurate at the time of publication. However, it is advisable to check information before relying on it. Privacy Policy