Scottish Highlands conjure up images of rolling hills carpeted with heather and rugged mountain peaks, proudly independent tartan-clad Scotsmen and bagpipes, and romantic castles. This is a deeply historic and cultural region that takes up most of the north and western parts of the country, including the Inner and Outer Hebrides off the west coast and the Orkney Islands off the northern coast. The boundary follows the Highland Boundary Fault in an almost straight line from Arran to Stonehaven.
Its administrative center is the city of Inverness, the most northerly city in the British Isles. Within its boundaries are some of the country's most beautiful and celebrated natural landscapes. The Highlands of Scotland are home to magnificent lochs (lakes), including famous Loch Ness and Loch Lomond. There are several mountain ranges, including the Grampians with Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the UK at 4,000 feet. Some of the most extensive wilderness in all of Europe is located in this beautiful region, including two national parks—the Trossachs National Park where Loch Lomond is located and Cairngorms National Park. The breathtaking Scottish Highlands also include numerous rivers and streams, woodlands, and moors. Birdlife is abundant, including ospreys, eagles, capercaillie, crossbills, and puffins. There are also deer, wildcats, otters, and rare red squirrels. Along the coast, you can see colonies of seals and dolphins frolicking in the waves.
The entire Highlands of Scotland region is very sparsely populated, with only one city (Inverness) and a scattering of towns and villages that are almost all located along the coast. With all this wilderness and natural beauty, it is only natural that many of the most popular things to do in the Scottish Highlands include the great outdoors. Walking is a popular pastime throughout the UK, and here you will find several hundred miles of hiking trails, including some long distance footpaths. The West Highland Way is 95 miles long and runs from Milngavie (not far from Glasgow) to Fort William; Speyside Way is 84 miles long, from Aviemore to Buckie; and the Great Glen Way runs for 73 miles between Inverness and Fort William. There are also cycling and mountain biking paths, as well as rock climbing and technical mountain climbing. The region has excellent fishing, with trout fishing particularly popular.
There are numerous places for camping, but you will also find lodging in various hotels (mostly in the city of Inverness and larger towns), numerous bed and breakfast inns, and a variety of vacation rentals. If you're looking for something with unique character and history, you can try Glengarry Castle Hotel in the town of Invergarry, which is located just to the west of Loch Lomond. It is located in a stately country mansion near the famous ruins of Invergarry Castle, which dates to the 17th century. The Highlands of Scotland are dotted with numerous castles, including Eilean Donan Castle, one of the most recognizable castles in the world. It is located in the far northwest of the region, and has appeared in numerous films, including Highlander and the James Bond thriller The World Is Not Enough.