The Scottish Highlands is a vast area in Scotland that sits above the Lowlands, covering parts of the coastline that overlook the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The Highland Council area includes a total distance of 25,657 square kilometers, accounting for over 11% of the entire landmass of Great Britain.
While this region is the largest in Scotland, the Highlands is home to less than one-seventh of the country’s population. So if you’re looking for a vacation with remote spaces, untouched natural landscapes and traditional towns and villages, this is a fantastic destination to add to your bucket list.
The Geography of the Highlands
In traditional Scottish geography, the Highlands area refers to the land located northwest of the Highland Boundary Fault. This boundary line crosses the mainland from Helensburgh to Stonehaven, dividing the Highlands from the Lowlands.
The whole region is very sparsely populated, and mountain ranges and lochs dominate the lands. With the famous Ben Nevis towering over as Britain’s highest peak, and the Great Glen dividing the Grampian Mountains to the southeast from the Northwest Highlands.
Culturally, the Highlands and the Lowlands were differentiated throughout the later Middle Ages and into the modern period, after Lowland Scots replaced Scottish Gaelic throughout most of the towns and villages.
Visiting the Islands
The Scottish Highlands also includes the Isles, with the “Highlands and Islands” being an official electoral region used in Scottish Parliament. The islands are Orkney and Shetland, the Western Isles (also known as the Outer Hebrides), most of the Argyll and Bute and Moray local government areas. For first-time travelers, the islands are a must as there is so much to explore beyond the mainland.
Known for their unique culture, their traditional way of life (with some places still using Gaelic as a language) and their prolific whiskey production, an island adventure is not to be missed when you’re in Scotland.
Major Towns and Cities
The ‘capital’ of the Highlands is Inverness, a beautiful city on the northeast coast, where the River Ness meets the Moray Firth. It is home to a stunning Old Town, featuring a 19th Century Inverness Cathedral and an 18th Century Old High Church, and it also makes a great base for exploring the world-famous Loch Ness.
Another major town in the Highlands is Fort William, a bustling community with quaint shops and cafes, and easy access to Ben Nevis. Our luxury lodge is located close to here, making it easy to travel to towns such as Mallaig, Glencoe and Fort Augustus. In the far north, the largest towns are Ullapool and Thurso, and major communes of the Islands include Portree (Isle of Skye) and Stornoway (Lewis and Harris).
Some of the most famous landmarks in the Scottish Highlands include Scotland and Britain’s tallest peak Ben Nevis, Loch Ness and its mythical Loch Ness Monster, the vast and beautiful Loch Lomond, the spellbinding Glencoe Pass (A82) which is perfect for road trips, the many historic castles, as well as the countless whiskey distilleries. Whatever you decide, won’t run out of things to do in the Highlands.
No matter what time of year you visit, there’s always something to see and do in the Highlands. Find out more about some of the activities you can do on our estate, or discover our unique world of authentic Scottish gastronomy.