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Loch Ba, Scottish Highlands
Loch Ba, Scottish Highlands

Holiday Cottages in The Scottish Highlands & Islands

Our guide to the Scottish Highlands and Islands

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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.

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HighlandScottish IslandsCairngormsMoray
 

Highland

Polar bears playing in water, Highlands, Scotland
Highland Wildlife Park in Kingcraig, Scottish Highlands

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.

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Scottish Islands

Colourful cottages on the waterfront of Portree, Isle of Skye, Scotland
Portree, the Isle of Skye's largest town, Scotland

Scotland has hundreds of beautiful islands dotted around its shores with the Hebrides (both inner and outer), the Shetland Isles and The Orkney Islands being the three main groups. Many islands are uninhabited but those that are, make wonderful holiday destinations with their crystal clear waters, carribean white sands, incredible wildlife and welcoming laid back charm.

One of the easiest islands to access is the Isle of Skye. Whether you visit for a day or spend a whole holiday on the island, a trip across the Skye Bridge will reward with scenery that will haunt you in the most moving of ways forever. Hop on a ferry and discover the magic of Lewis and Harris, Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, the Isle of Islay with its outstanding whiskies or the quiet desserted beaches of Colonsay. Whether you plan to spend your holiday island hopping or want to simply unpack, relax and unwind, every Scottish Island is a unique jewel and one to behold.

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Cairngorms

View over the water of Loch Morlick, Cairngorms, Scotland
Loch Morlich, Cairngorms, Scotland

Commanding prime position at the very heart of the Scottish Highlands, the Cairngorms is the UK's largest National Park. Encompassing more than 4500 square kilometres of dramatic rugged beauty, the Cairngorms is double the size of the Lake District National Park and even outsizes the country of Luxembourg. Simply put, the Cairngorms is vast and magnificent, and possibly the most awesome of all outdoor playgrounds.

There are majestic snow-capped mountains to climb and ski, heather-clad moorland to ramble, forests with logging trails and rock traverses to challenge the hardiest of mountain bikers and gleaming rivers and lochs for fishing, paddling and getting wet. The diverse landscape is home to some of the UK's rarest endangered wildlife including Red Squirrel, Golden Eagles and the Scottish Wildcat.

You may be tricked into thinking that the Cairngorms is all about adventure, but it is every bit as appealing for those wanting downtime. Rich in culture and heritage there are picturesque villages offering a warm Scottish welcome, distilleries for sampling a dram (or two!) and ancient castles and historic sites where you can step back in time and soak up the Highland culture. With all year round appeal, the Cairngorms is a top holiday destination and surprisingly one that is easily accessible by train. For those without a car, there's no excuse not to visit with train access into the popular Highalnd village of Aviemore from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness and even London.

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Moray

Dolphin leaping out the water, Moray, Scotland
Dolphins in the Moray Firth, Scotland

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. Finish an active day with a relaxed meal in front of an open fire, with a glass of the finest Scottish malt whisky. Bliss.

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