Whisky and Mountains in the Scottish Highlands but What about the Blooming Monster?

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The Scottish Highlands region has been described as one of the last great wilderness areas in Europe. Having grown up in lowland Scotland I knew about the highlands but it was only before I left the country to go travelling that I finally travelled there. What did I find?

Loch Ness but no Monster

I wasn’t gullible enough to expect to catch a glimpse of Nessie but, well, actually I was. This famous beastie has been getting talked about since St Columba apparently became the first person to see it in the 6th century. I know that it is highly improbable that a community of prehistoric beasts have been living in the loch since then without any sort of definitive evidence ever being produced. Anyway, I felt a twinge of excitement when I got to Loch Ness but I soon forgot about the unlikely beast possibly living there. Instead, I was captivated by the splendour of the loch and the natural beauty of the area. If the Nessie stories are ruses to get more tourists to visit the place then long may they continue. I stayed a couple of nights in the nearby city of Inverness, which is pretty and tidy without ever being spectacular.

Ben Nevisness

You almost certainly already know that Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the UK. What you might not know is that it is also relatively easy to walk up to the top. I know this because…I read about it on the internet. I was genuinely excited at the thought of walking up to the top of Ben Nevis. I woke up early in the hostel in nearby Fort William, bought some bananas, water and a newspaper. I was all set. The doubts began to set in when I walked towards the old mountain and never saw a single other person, only some delightfully hairy cows. I began to worry that maybe I would be all alone on the country’s biggest mountain. As well as being a bit dangerous that would be, frankly, a trifle boring. In the end, I went and watched a game of shinty being played instead. This is a game which is a bit like hockey, a bit like Irish hurling and a lot like a bunch of burly blokes knocking lumps out of each other while holding sticks.

Oban

I mentioned the wonderful isle of Iona in a previous post so I won’t go over it again here. However, to get there I travelled to the mainland town of Oban. This is a brilliant little place which appears to have forgotten to move into the 21st century. The highlight is the Roman style folly that overlooks the town for some reason and offers a magnificent view. I also took a few wee drams of whisky here and really felt at home. The ferries out to the islands leave from here, so it is a good place to go in order to explore further afield.

Skye

I joined an international group of tourists in hiring a car to explore this magical island. It is great way of seeing Skye, as it is a big island to try and see in any other way. The mountains here are unbelievably dramatic, there are a couple of pretty towns and we discovered at least one lovely castle on our meandering drive. There is a bleak, brooding feel to parts of the Highlands, such as Culloden and Glencoe but in our car opinions were divided about Skye. I thought that is was a welcoming sort of place but a couple of the other tourists felt that that the mountains freaked them out. You’ve got to give it a try and see for yourself what you think.

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