Scottish Highlands: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ben Nevis from the path to the CIC Hut alongside the Allt a' Mhuilinn
Scottish Highlands
Lowland-Highland divide
United Kingdom
Time zone GMT/BST

The Scottish Highlands (Scottish Gaelic: A' Ghàidhealtachd, Scots: Hielans) include the rugged and mountainous regions of Scotland north and west of the Highland Boundary Fault, although the exact boundaries are not clearly defined, particularly to the east. The Great Glen divides the Grampian Mountains to the southeast from the Northwest Highlands. The Scottish Gaelic name of A' Ghàidhealtachd literally means 'the place where Gaelic is spoken', and therefore, within Gaelic, no longer really refers to parts of the Highlands where a complete language shift has occurred, and therefore also refers to the Outer Hebrides. However, it seems to have become solidified into use in present day due to use by the Scottish Government.

The area is generally sparsely populated, with many mountain ranges dominating the region, and includes the highest mountain in the British Isles, Ben Nevis. Before the 19th century the Highlands was home to a much larger population, but due to a combination of factors including the outlawing of the traditional Highland way of life following the Jacobite Rising of 1745, the infamous Highland Clearances, and mass migration to urban areas during the Industrial Revolution, the area is now one of the most sparsely populated in Europe. The average population density in the Highlands and Islands is lower than that of Sweden, Norway, Papua New Guinea and Argentina.

The Highland Council is the administrative body for much of the Scottish Highlands, with its administrative centre at Inverness. However the Highlands also includes parts of the council areas of Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll and Bute, Moray, Perth and Kinross, and Stirling. Although the Isle of Arran administratively belongs to North Ayrshire, its northern part is generally regarded as part of the Highlands.



Culturally the area is very different from the Scottish Lowlands. Most of the Highlands fall into the region known as the Gàidhealtachd, which was, within the last hundred years, the Gaelic-speaking area of Scotland. The terms are sometimes used interchangeably but have different meanings in their respective languages. Highland English is also widely spoken.

Some similarities exist between the culture of the Highlands and that of Ireland: examples include the Gaelic language, sport (shinty, hurling), and Celtic music.


The Scottish Reformation, which began in the Lowlands, initially achieved only partial success in the Gaelic-speaking Highlands. Roman Catholicism remained strong in much of the Highlands, aided by Irish Franciscan missionaries who regularly came to the area to celebrate Mass, as they were culturally and ethnically entwined. The Highlands are often described as the last bastion of Roman Catholicism in Great Britain, with significant strongholds such as Moidart, Morar, South Uist and Barra. The Scottish Highlanders' strong Catholicism led to much of their historical antipathy towards the Protestant English. This was in contrast to the Lowland Scots, most of whom converted to Protestantism and thus were more willing to unite with the English to create the Kingdom of Great Britain. On the other hand, some Outer Hebrides islands (like Lewis and Harris) have large populations belonging to the Free Church of Scotland or the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland.

Historical geography

Inverness, the administrative centre of the Highlands

In traditional Scottish geography, the Highlands refers to that part of Scotland north-west of the Highland Boundary Fault, which crosses mainland Scotland in a near-straight line from Helensburgh to Stonehaven. However the flat coastal lands that occupy parts of the counties of Nairnshire, Morayshire, Banffshire and Aberdeenshire are often excluded as they do not share the distinctive geographical and cultural features of the rest of the Highlands. The north-east of Caithness, as well as Orkney and Shetland, are also often excluded from the Highlands, although the Hebrides are usually included. This definition of the Highland area differed from the Lowlands by language and tradition, having preserved Gaelic speech and customs centuries after the anglicisation of the latter; this led to a growing perception of a divide, with the cultural distinction between Highlander and Lowlander first noted towards the end of the 14th century. In Aberdeenshire, the boundary between the Highlands and the Lowlands is not well defined. There is a stone beside the A93 road near the village of Dinnet on Royal Deeside which states 'You are now in the Highlands', although there are areas of Highland character to the east of this point.

A much wider definition of the Scottish Highlands is that used by the Scotch Whisky industry. Highland Single Malts are produced at distilleries north of an imaginary line between Dundee and Greenock,[1] thus including all of Aberdeenshire and Angus.

Inverness is traditionally regarded as the capital of the Highlands,[2] although less so in the Highland parts of Aberdeenshire, Angus, Perthshire and Stirlingshire which look more to cities such as Aberdeen, Perth, Dundee and Stirling as their commercial centres. Under some of the wider definitions in use, Aberdeen could be considered the largest city in the Highlands, although it does not share the recent Gaelic cultural history typical of the Highlands proper.

Highland council area

The Highland Council area, created as one of the local government regions of Scotland, has been a unitary council area since 1996. The council area excludes a large area of the southern and eastern Highlands, and the Western Isles, but includes Caithness. Highlands is sometimes used, however, as a name for the council area, as in Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service. Northern, as in Northern Constabulary, is also used to refer to the area covered by the fire and rescue service. This area consists of the Highland council area and the island council areas of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.

Highland council signs in the Pass of Drumochter, between Glen Garry and Dalwhinnie, saying "Welcome to the Highlands", are still regarded as controversial.

Highlands and Islands

Much of the Scottish Highlands area overlaps the Highlands and Islands area. An electoral region called Highlands and Islands is used in elections to the Scottish Parliament: this area includes Orkney and Shetland, as well as the Highland Council local government area, the Western Isles and most of the Argyll and Bute and Moray local government areas. Highlands and Islands has, however, different meanings in different contexts. It means Highland (the local government area), Orkney, Shetland, and the Western Isles in Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service. Northern, as in Northern Constabulary, refers to the same area as that covered by the fire and rescue service.

Historical crossings

There have been trackways from the Scottish Lowlands to the Highlands since prehistoric times. Many traverse the Mounth, a spur of mountainous land that extends from the higher inland range to the North Sea slightly north of Stonehaven. The most well known and historically important trackways are the Causey Mounth, Elsick Mounth,[3] Cryne Corse Mounth and Cairnamounth.[4]


Liathach seen from Beinn Eighe. With the Munro “Top“ of Stuc a' Choire Dhuibh Bhig (915 metres) in the foreground and the two Munro summits in the background.
The main ridge of the Cuillin

The Scottish Highlands lie to the north and west of the Highland Boundary Fault, which runs from Arran to Stonehaven and contains some of the most interesting geology in Europe. This part of Scotland is largely composed of ancient rocks from the Cambrian and Precambrian periods which were uplifted during the later Caledonian Orogeny. Smaller formations of Lewisian gneiss in the north west are up to 3,000 million years old and amongst the oldest found anywhere on Earth. The overlying rocks of the Torridonian sandstone form spectacular mountains in the Torridon Hills such as Liathach and Beinn Eighe in Wester Ross.

These foundations are interspersed with many igneous intrusions of a more recent age, the remnants of which have formed mountain massifs such as the Cairngorms and the Cuillin of Skye. A significant exception to the above are the fossil-bearing beds of Old Red Sandstones found principally along the Moray Firth coast and partially down the Highland Boundary Fault. The Jurassic beds found in isolated locations on Skye and Applecross refelct the complex underlying geology. They are the original source of much North Sea oil. The Great Glen is a transform fault which divides the Grampian Mountains to the southeast from the Northwest Highlands.[5][6]

The entire region was covered by ice sheets during the Pleistocene ice ages, save perhaps for a few nunataks. The complex geomorphology includes incised valleys and lochs carved by the action of mountain streams and ice, and a topography of irregularly distributed mountains whose summits have similar heights above sea-level, but whose bases depend upon the amount of denudation to which the plateau has been subjected in various places.

Places of interest


See also


  1. ^ "Scotch Whisky Association". 
  2. ^ "Inverness". Internet Guide to Scotland. Retrieved 1 November 2009. 
  3. ^ "C. Michael Hogan, Elsick Mounth, Megalithic Portal, editor: Andy Burnham". 
  4. ^ W. Douglas Simpson, "The Early Castles of Mar", Proceedings of the Society, 102, 10 December 1928
  5. ^ Keay, J. & Keay, J. (1994) Collins Encyclopaedia of Scotland. London. HarperCollins.
  6. ^ Murray, W.H. (1973) The Islands of Western Scotland. London. Eyre Methuen

External links

Coordinates: 57°07′N 4°43′W / 57.12°N 4.71°W / 57.12; -4.71

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Cliffs in Highlands
Cliffs in Highlands
Applecross Highlands
Applecross Highlands

The Scottish Highlands is the rugged northern and north-western portion of Scotland. This is the Scotland conjured up by visions of tartan, kilts, Bonnie Prince Charlie and all.

Map of the Highlands
Map of the Highlands
Argyll and Bute

Other destinations

The Scottish Highlands contains some of Europe's most extensive wilderness areas, some of which have been proclaimed as National Parks:

  • The Cairngorms National Park - Scotland's largest National Park
  • The Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park - Scotland's first National Park
  • Kylesku - Delightful village in the middle of nowhere with nothing around you for about 15 miles, excellent bar and restaurant at the Kylesku Inn with great views and if you drive on after Kylesku for about 20 minutes, some of the best scenery in Scotland is to be had. An hour north of Ullapool. Go on a ferry to see Scotland's highest waterfall Eas-Coul-Aulin which is 650 foot high or Kerrachar Gardens which are both only accessible by boat from Kylesku.
  • Dunrobin Castle - Gorgeous castle with fantastic exterior, gardens and falconry demonstrations from 11am and 2pm every day. About an hour and a half north of Inverness. Adults £8.00, children £5.00 OAP's and students £7.00 for castle and gardens. It should be noted that there are no falconry demonstrations on Sundays.
  • Applecross - See the views from Scotland's highest mountain road on the way to Applecross at about 2000ft! Isolated peninsula known for its rugged beauty. Seal trips with Calum's at Plockton guarantees seals on your excursion or your money back. Not far from Kyle of Lochalsh area.
  • Inverewe Gardens - Lovely National Trust For Scotland garden, an hour north of Kyle of Lochalsh.

Get in

By Plane

The main airport serving the Scottish Highland region is Inverness Airport [1], with scheduled flights to destinations around Scotland and England. There are smaller airports within the Scottish Highland region at Campbeltown and Oban that offer scheduled service to connecting flights in Glasgow.

By Rail

First Scotrail offers highland service from Glasgow and Edinburgh (via Perth) and Edinburgh (via Aberdeen) north towards Inverness several times a day. The West Highland Railway runs from Glasgow's Queen Street Station is offered to Oban, Fort William and Mallaig. There is Caledonian Sleeper Service available from London's Euston Station to/from Fort William and Inverness both via Edinburgh. This overnight service must be booked in advance.

By Bus

Scottish Citylink offers frequent service along major Scottish Highland highways from bases in Glasgow, Perth and Inverness. West Coast Motors offers service throughout the Argyll and Bute region as well as to Glasgow's Buchanan Street Station. Rapsons Coaches offers frequent regional service from their Inverness base. Some communities are served by the Royal Mail's Postbus service.

By Car

There are numerous highways from the Central Scotland region into the Scottish Highlands. One of the most scenic involves the drive along Loch Lomond, out to Oban then north toFort William and along Loch Ness to Inverness.

Get around

Scottish Citylink, West Coast Motors and Rapsons should help to get you moving around the region if you are not in a car. Air service means connections in Glasgow while there are only a few train lines through the region.


Many of the roads, especially in the more remote areas of the North West are single track with passing places. Driving there is a pleasure.


Hitchhiking is a good way to get around in the Highlands, but has two significant downsides. First, the road network is quite sparse in places. Also, many of the country roads that do exist have very low traffic density.


Try hiking one of the long distance footpaths that cross the Highlands:

Try cycling the highlands, especially:

  • The Great Glen Cycle Route

Hike in the Torridon mountains.

The Cairngorms National Park - located within the heart of the Grampian Mountains


scottish holiday houses 5-bedroom holiday house to rent in Western Highlands

Get out

After the Highlands, the next logical place to explore are the islands: the Hebrides, the Orkney Islands, and the Shetland Islands lie to the northwest and northeast.

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Simple English

Scottish Highlands
Lowland-Highland divide
United Kingdom
Time zone GMT/BST

The Scottish Highlands is an historic region of Scotland. It is the area to the north of the Highland Boundary Fault. The fault separates the hard igneous and metamorphic rocks to the north from the softer sedimentary rocks of the Scottish Lowlands in the south.

The Highlands are divided in two parts. The Great Glen divides the Grampian Mountains to the southeast from the Northwest Highlands.


The area is generally sparsely populated, with many mountain ranges, and includes the highest mountain in the British Isles, Ben Nevis.

Before the 19th century the Highlands was home to a much larger population but, for several reasons, the area is now one of the most sparsely populated in Europe. The average population density in the Highlands and Islands is lower than that of Sweden, Norway, Papua New Guinea and Argentina.

The reasons for the low population include the harsh nature of the land. Also, the outlawing of the traditional Highland way of life after the Jacobite Rising of 1745, the infamous Highland Clearances, and mass migration to urban areas during the Industrial Revolution all had their effects.


Like the Scottish islands, the Highlands are a stronghold of Protestant churches. There is the Kirk (the national Presbyterian Church of Scotland), but the Wee Frees (Free Church of Scotland, several versions) are the typical religion of the Highlands and Islands. Old-style observance of the Sabbath is typical of these areas.

File:Ben N Face
The annotated face of Ben Nevis

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