WARNING: Wanderlust triggering pictures ahead – the so-called Scottish Highlands effect
Scottish Highlands: setting the expectations
People told me: ‘the Scottish Highlands are amazing! You will going to love it’. Ones who know me know that I rather not set any expectations. I am afraid that as soon people tell me that something is amazing, I will be dissapointed with the reality.
I can already share one thing with you guys: the Scottish Highlands exceeded my expectations to the fullest. Yes, the weather was horrible most of the time, but the breathtaking views made well up for it.
We stayed on the southern point of Loch Ness, in a small village called Fort Augustus. It is one of these villages that are as teeny tiny as can be, but are visited by tons of tourists everyday. Not just because of Nessie, but also because of the Caledonian Canal and the series of locks that lead boaters to the Lake.
Fort Augustus proved to be an excellent starting point for day trips around the unbelievably stunning Scottish Highlands. I would recommend to come either by car or rent one, as distances are quite big and public transport can only get you this far.
Highlights of the Highlands
The highlights in the Highlands are endless. I know guys, I know! I am only using superlatives in this post, but I must say that this area only deserves these. From the picturesque Fort William – foothill of Ben Nevis (British tallest mountain) – to Glenfinnan (known by Harry Potter fans because of the railway bridge known from the movies), and from Cairngorms National Park to Uruqhart Castle on Loch Ness.
But if you ask me to pick one (alright, three) highlights: that must be our day trip to the Isle of Skye, our hike in Glencoe and the seal watching cruise in Plockton.
We took the A87 to Skye, and it turned out to be a road that we would take another time in the same week, simply because we could not get enough of the striking views. Once on the island, views of the sea, green hills, peaks and waterfalls took our breath away.
Halfway the week we took a trip to Glencoe where we hiked to a pub for lunch while tall mountains loomed up in front of us. After lunch we returned to our car and took the A82 about 30min southbound for more photo-taking spots. Honestly though, there is no way I can explain this to you in words. And even the pictures only touch reality slightly.
A few days later in Plockton, a secluded village on the seaside, the colourful houses and palm trees made us feel like being somewhere in Southern Europe. And I am saying this even when it was raining most of the day. This did not stop us from joining Calum and his daughter on one of his seal watching cruises. When I told him that I work for a riverboat company in London he brought out a captain’s hat and told me to take over the wheel: ”this is great picture material for your colleagues’! he told me enthusiastically.
And did we see seals that day? Oh yes we did! Several, even quite a few little babies.
Life in the Highlands seems to move much slower than anywhere else. For someone who lives in one of the world’s largest and busiest cities this is an amazing thing. Everyone we talked to, in shops, restaurants and at our accommodation, they all seemed so relaxed! Unwinding definitely was the keyword of this week in Scotland.
Not only did I have a chat with Calum on the boat, but I also talked with his daughter who had lived in London herself for several years. The contrast between secluded Plockton and London is one of the biggest you can imagine. But even the temptations of such a major city could not keep her away from the picturesque village for long. Big is not always better so it appears. It sounds like a utter cliche, but this trip made me realise once again how important it is to enjoy the little things in life. I have the feeling that this is a trip that for some reason will stay with me for a very long time. When can I go back?