Jan 16

Explore Four Favorite Gems of Scotland’s Highlands and Islands

The northern reaches of Scotland are a wild landscape that holds a natural purity and mystery that is unmatched across the British Isles. Panoramic vistasfrom rugged mountains, windswept coastlines, and expansive moorlands, all contribute to the unique character of the region. While the landscape itself may be foreboding, it finds a particular sweetness in the local forests and wildflowers, and the local population is as welcoming as can be. For those with a yearning to explore the farthest corners of Scotland, this trek beckons, showcasing some of the most exceptional locations, including Eilean Donan Castel and the Horns of Alligin.

The Village of Callander

Callander has been a critical market town connecting the northern and southern highlands since the time of the Romans, and it still lives up to that descriptor today. The winding main street is dotted with dozens of pubs and shops, where local craftwork, fine wool clothing, and a cold pint of beer are all only steps apart from each other. The village’s historic church, Roman camp and chapel, and original layout are all still visible today. The nature surrounding Callander is equally charming, with the local beech forests serving as a muse for the 18th-century poet Alexander Campbell.

Trossachs National Park

The Trossachs National Park is a precipitous slice of nature, where the impressive Munroe mountains (the highest in Scotland) meet the deep lakebeds of the Trossachs themselves. These lochs are often described as fingers because of their long thin shape, with many of the lakes spanning miles in length but a fraction of that in depth. What makes the Trossachs so impressive though, is how steep the shores are leading down from the mountains to the lakes, leaving little space for any construction other than the occasional winding road. While Loch Lomond is the largest and most famous of the lakes, the smaller and less visited ones are perhaps even more enchanting.

 

Castle Eilean Donan

Castle Eilean Donan is one of the classic medieval castles. Its sheer stone walls rise high above three sea lochs, Loch Long, Loch Alsh, and Loch Duich, which gives the castle a particularly intimidating visage. Originally part of a “wall” of castles that stretched across Scotland, the castle itself would trade hands between the many clans of Scotland throughout the 14th and 15th centuries. It would later serve a role as a crucial stronghold during the Jacobite uprising. In modern times the castle has been beautifully restored and is one of the most iconic castles in Scotland, if not the entire world.

The Horns of Alligin

The Horns of Alligin are a trio of rocky peaks that are part of the Torridan Mountains, a chain of mountains that boasts the most dramatic views on the Isle of Skye. From below, these peaks can appear almost impregnable, as the summits quickly ascend into rocky spires and sharp ridges. The Horns of Alligin themselves are home to an exceptional ridge walk that takes intrepid hikers between the two summits, with the unique stone sculptures of the Torridans spreading out in every direction.

Embark on our inaugural journey, May 19 to 29, 2024, of our new Scotland: Highlands and Islands trek. Traverse awe-inspiring mountains, summit dramatic peaks, ramble through mossy forests, and embrace the elements in one of the world’s most enchanting locations.

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