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As the Independence Referendum is about to take place, it’s a better time than ever to reflect on Scotland. Deep-fried Mars Bars, bagpipes, Irn-Bru and tartan aside, one of the best things Scotland has contributed to Britain is the Highland’s beautiful scenery and picturesque towns. From the rugged coastlines, to the towering mountains and blankets of heather on the moors, there’s something for everyone – from cyclists, ramblers, families or even those just looking for a little break from the humdrum of everyday life.
As you approach this oasis of activity in the Highlands, it’s impossible to miss the imposing power of Ben Nevis. Settled in its shadow, the town itself is alive with intrepid hikers, backpackers and mountain bikers. You can follow a footpath from the town to the top of the mountain, or if you’re more of a sit-back-and-relax holidaymaker, you can explore the West Highland Museum, the quaint town or look out over Loch Linnhe, which looks stunning rain or shine.
There are so many things that make the Isle of Skye special, but a favourite amongst tourists is the Quaraing. Roads lead you between incredible views of the range of mountains that dominate the island, and round every corner is another weathered landscape reminiscent of an oil painting. Head to the northern most point of the island – Neist Point for the chance to spot sea eagles and minke whales and dolphins.
The Isle of Mull is popular with cruise passengers and explorers alike. The colourful ‘capital’ of Tobermory is a flurry of brightly-coloured independent shops selling soaps, scented candles, souvenirs, handmade chocolates and even the island’s own whisky are filled with tourists from the morning onwards. The local distillery is one of the oldest in Scotland, and well worth a visit if you’re a fan of the local brew, but somewhere you have to visit is the Tobermory Bakery – they do sweet tarts and Danish pastries the size of your head.
Head to Aros Park or Calgary Beach for peaceful walks and trails, easy for your family.
Just driving through Cairngorms allows you to experience the sheer beauty and enormity of the National Park, even if you don’t stop and explore. Aviemore is home to Loch an Eilein, a peaceful loch embedded in the forest of Rothiemurchus. You can enjoy the views from the Highland castle, retrace the steps of past Highland cattle raiders, spot red squirrels, deer and other Scottish wildlife in one of the best picnic spots in Scotland.
Less isolated than our other top Scotch spots, Inverness is capital of the Highlands. The castle looms above the city and inspires travellers with legends and mysteries of royals and ghosts. Bridges straddle the River Ness, where you can sit and enjoy a coffee in one of the many cafes and restaurants that line the riverside with classic Scottish buildings.
One of the most photographed castles throughout Britain, Eileen Donan is a dramatic foreground to the backdrop of the Highlands. One of the most iconic images of rural Scotland, the castle is located at a point where three massive sea lochs meet. Truly majestic, and well worth a visit with the family if you’re interested in the Scottish Jacobite and clan history.
If you’re planning on visiting Scotland, before or after the vote, make sure you invest in quality travel insurance. Although it may seem as though you are pretty much on home turf, you’re at the same risk of personal possession damage, theft or loss as you would be anywhere else in the world. Travel with peace of mind, with travel insurance from Holidaysafe.
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