Historic Highlands Guide
by Ben Johnson
Facts about the Highlands
Population: Approx. 290,000
Famous for: Amazing scenery, being one of the most sparsely populated regions of Europe
Distance from London: 11 – 15 hours
Highest Mountain: Ben Nevis (1,344m)
Local delicacies: Highland Whisky, Haggis, Scotch Broth
Airports: Barra, Benbecula, Campbeltown, Dundee, Inverness, Islay, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Sumburgh, Tiree, Wick
The mysterious Highlands have always conjured romantic images of wind ravaged hilltops, majestic lochs and imposing castles. They may be difficult to get to, even from Glasgow or Edinburgh, but once you arrive you’ll be glad you made the effort.
One of the most popular tourist attractions in the region is also one most recognisable castles in the world; Eilean Donan (pictured at the top of this page). Made famous by the Highlander films, the castle is situated in the middle of a loch and can only be reached by an ancient causeway.
The rugged western coastline is also home to some picturesque villages and towns including Plockton, notable for its charming and historic centre and also for being home to umpteen palm trees which benefit from the warm climate delivered by the Gulf Stream.
The Highlands is also home to the highest mountain in the UK, Ben Nevis, which stands to a height of 1,344 metres above sea level. Also in the Ben Nevis area is Inverlochy Castle, built in 1275 by John the Black Comyn, chief of the Clan Comyn. It's surprisingly well preserved for its age and is now considered one of Scotland's oldest stone fortresses.
Three major battlesites are also located in the Highlands. The first of these is the wonderfully named Battle of the Spoling Dyke, a brutal example of how clan warfare was still alive and well into the late 16th century.
The second major battlesite is the Battle of Glen Shiel where in 1719 the Jacobites joined forces with the Spanish in an attempt to oust King George I from the throne.
The final battlefield is the much more recent Battle of the Braes, where a mass protest by Isle of Skye crofters ended with 50 policemen from Glasgow being called in to restore law and order.