Self-Catering Cottage Holidays in the Scottish Highlands and Islands
Explore the Scottish Higlands and Islands
Everything you've heard about the Scottish Highlands is true. It's a land of fierce pride, a history chequered with conflict and divided clans, incredible mountain passes and a sense of space and peace that's difficult to find in modern life. There was a time when the sovereign held no authority in the Highlands and that sense of independence and self-reliance is still strong today.
It isn't until you see the true Scottish Highlands for yourself that you realise just how extensive this region is. Included in its borders are Caithness, Inverness, Sutherland, John O'Groats - the most northerly point on the UK mainland, Lochniver and Fort William.
Loch Ness is the second largest loch in Scotland, or the largest when you take into account its depth and volume. It's the perfect hiding place for a legendary monster. There are several beautiful lochs along the Great Glen Fault - the natural fault line which gives Highland so much of its character. It's the perfect destination for those who like to get their adrenaline kicks by throwing themselves down a mountainside on a bike, or who appreciate the sense of achievement that can only come from scaling the crest of a mountain for a view not many people will ever see.
The Orkney Islands are off the most northern tip of Scotland, separated from the mainland by the Pentland Firth. There are 70 islands in the archipelago and while only 20 are inhabited, some of them have been lived on for more than 8,500 years! It's a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the superb condition of the age of its Neolithic sites.
They might be far away, but getting to Orkney is easy by plane or ferry, with connections seven days a week. You can take your car, or leave it on the mainland and explore the island by bicycle. While you're there you can see Viking sites (Orkney was once part of Norway), check out museums, enjoy the beaches, or simply sit back and watch the wildlife, which includes seals and sea birds.
National Geographic voted Skye the 4th Best Island in the World, making it a safe bet for an amazing self-catering Scottish island holiday! The landscape is so pristine and unchanged it almost feels like you will stumble upon an ancient crofting family as you walk the Cuillin mountain range. Lie back on a blanket outside at night and you'll be amazed at the number and brilliance of stars in one of Europe's darkest skies. Being isolated from the mainland by unpolluted waters has meant that wildlife can thrive. You're as likely to see a red deer as you are a sea eagle, whale, or pine martin.
The Moray Firth is one of the best places in the UK to see bottlenose dolphins. The local pod of around 130 often come close enough to be seen from the shore, but there are a number of responsible tour companies who can take you out in a boat to see dolphins and whales. On land you'll see otters, ospreys, red kites and incredible flora which thrive in the protected conditions. With Aberdeen on one side and Inverness on the other, Moray is a handy location to base yourself for exploring some of Scotland's most breathtaking landscape, including the Cairngorms National Park. Finish an active day with a relaxed meal in front of an open fire, with a glass of the finest Scottish malt whisky by your elbow. Bliss.
Sitting in the Atlantic Ocean of the north-west coast of Scotland, the Western Isles - also called the Outer Hebrides - includes the Isles of Harris and Lewis, North and South Uist, Benbecula and the Isle of Barra. Each island has its own distinct character with Gaelic still being widely spoken. The Outer Hebrides is incredibly beautiful with an abundance of wildlife and friendly population. The beaches are some of the best in the world and with the only real town being Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, it's the sort of place you can escape and find yourself.
The Scottish Highlands has all the culture and excitement you could want, coupled with unbelievable space and serenity.