Geographically, Scotland can be divided into three distinct areas: the Southern Uplands, the Central Lowlands and the northern Highlands and Islands.
The Highlands comprise dramatic mountain ranges of sandstone and granite, which rise to their greatest height at Ben Nevis, which is Britain’s highest mountain; it also has the deepest and longest inland waters embracing both the most northerly and most westerly parts of mainland Britain. Although this region accounts for more than half the total area of Scotland, it has few major population centres apart from the cities of Aberdeen, Inverness and Dundee.
Of Scotland’s 790 islands, 130 or so are inhabited. The major groups include the Inner and Outer Hebrides off the west coast, the Orkneys and the Shetland isles which lie to the northeast of the mainland.
The Scottish Highlands have so much to offer – spectacular mountains, majestic glens and mirror-like lochs form the perfect backdrop to picturesque towns, isolated crofts, towering castles and pagoda-topped distilleries. A startling variety of wildlife also makes its home in the sea-lochs and glens where an unbroken thread of human history reaches back into the mists of time.
Inverness is the regional capital and, in March 2001, became Scotland’s fifth city.
Inverness has an enviable location at the head of the Great Glen and on the shores of the Moray Firth, so makes an ideal base for exploring. Highlights include the beautiful River Ness, Eden Court Theatre and the superb Inverness Aquadome.
In and around Inverness, you can choose from numerous places to visit and things to do. The city is dissected by the charming River Ness, where the Ness Islands demand to be explored, and overlooking the river is Inverness Castle.
On the slopes around the castle you will see some fine example of the city’s superb floral displays, and nearby in Castle Wynd you will find Inverness Museum and Art Gallery.
History, legend, romance and the great outdoors combine seamlessly here to guarantee visitors a warm Highland welcome and a truly memorable holiday. Whether you are looking for an action-packed adventure, a taste of the local culture and history, or just complete peace and quiet, the Highlands of Scotland is the place to come, especially if you love Scotch Mist.
Fort William Mountain Film Festival When: February
For nine days in February, during the best winter walking and climbing conditions of the year, a varied and very full programme of lectures, films, activities and exhibitions will entertain visitors to the Lochaber district.
Inverness Music Festival When February
The Festival is a competitive event which attracts over 1000 competitors of all ages to venues throughout the city.
Aviemore Walking Festival When: May
Come and enjoy the best of British countryside with fine walks suitable for all skills, through magnificent scenery.
Inverness Highland Games When: July
Inverness – The largest Highland Games in the Highlands. Set on the banks of the River Ness, the Inverness Games features heavy events. Highland dancing, piping and traditional music, stalls, aerobatics and parachute displays.
West Highland Yachting Week When July
This event is held in Craobh, Oban and Tobermory, West Highlands One of the leading international yachting events providing an attractive combination of round-the-buoys and passage racing, supported by an excellent social programme
Highland Feast When: September – October
This year’s vibrant Feast menu features an abundance of tempting options ranging from dinners served with a side of drama, glitzy ceilidhs and cruises, to porridge-making championships, farmers’ markets and the family-friendly Nairn Fresh Food Funday.
How to get there
Inverness Airport is the air gateway for the Highlands and Islands of Scotland (and just over 1½ hours from London) and handles more than 330 scheduled flights a week to Scottish and UK destinations. It is the largest of 10 airports serving the region.
Scheduled flights operate daily to Inverness from London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Luton, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stornoway in the Western Isles, Kirkwall in Orkney and Sumburgh in Shetland.
The airport is located 9 miles east of the City of Inverness just off the main A96 trunk road and its facilities include on site car hire, restaurant and bar, shop, and 650 pay car parking spaces. Taxis are available at the airport and buses operate to and from the airport terminal to Inverness city centre and towns to the east
The A82 (Glasgow-Fort William-Inverness), the A9 (Stirling-Perth-Inverness-Thurso) and the A96 (Aberdeen-Nairn-Inverness) are the three arterial routes to and from the Highlands.
Daily services to and from Inverness and Fort William connect the Highlands with Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh and all the major UK cities. Rail services from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh, Wick and Thurso, and Fort William to Mallaig (where steam trains run in the summer) provide opportunities to take in the spectacular scenery. The Caledonian Sleeper service operates from London Euston to Fort William and Inverness.
Caledonian MacBrayne operate car and passenger ferry services to the islands on the west, while the Glenelg ferry links Skye. Northlink Ferries and Pentland Ferries operate car and passenger services from Scrabster (near Thurso) and Gills Bay respectively to Orkney. John o’ Groats Ferries offer passenger-only services to Orkney.
Several bus operators run daily services to the Highlands from Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh, with connections from all other parts of the UK.
There is a full programme of Highland Games across Scotland throughout the summer season. One of the most famous is held in the late summer at the Braemar Gathering, traditionally attended by the Royal Family. Most Highland Games are on a far smaller scale, and many of them are still genuine community events.
Eating Dining Shopping
It’s easy to eat well in the Highlands, with so many ways of enjoying quality food produced within the area.
You could browse through an Inverness delicatessen, search out the branch of Harrods at Shin Falls, catch a Farmers Market at Portree. There are smokeries in Strathspey (and other places), and special home-made pies in Lochinver. Highland cheeses a special delicacy.
There are whisky distilleries from Old Pultney in the north to Ben Nevis in the south and Talisker on Skye. There are traditional breweries – Skye, Black Isle, Kinlochleven and even Food and Drink Festivals around Inverness & Nairn and Skye & Lochalsh as well as a fish week in Ullapool. In short, the food and drink is one more reason to visit the Highlands.
In the Highlands, the past is all around. Ancient cairns and stone settings, the later brochs
(defensive round towers), then the Picts with their mysterious carved symbol stones have all left their faint traces on the landscape.
Useful telephone numbers
Emergency Number 999
Airport Information (Inverness) Tel: 01667 464000
Train station :( National Rail Enquiries) Tel; 08457 48 49 50
Tourist Office: (Inverness) Tel; +44 (1463) 234 353
Holiday rents online:
National Transport Line
24 hour medical service