The Scottish Highlands, a place for fantasy

The poet Robert Burns dedicated one of his fieriest poems to them. Queen Victoria wanted to lose herself in them and the queen of pop, Madonna, got married in one of her castles.  There is no doubt that the Highlands have something special. Forget Middle-earth in ‘Lord of the Rings’, the Scottish Highlands have the power to make any fantasy come true. There it is possible to go on safari, hunt ghosts, look for stars, throw logs for sport and of course try the best whiskey in the world. And we are in luck, the next few months (until the end of September) are the ideal ones to visit them. A season of Scottish nature, traditional games and revelry known as ‘ceilidhs’ has just started.

The Highland Games

At first, the idea of ​​seeing strongmen in skirts throwing heavy objects into the air may seem like little more than malt-driven delusion. Nothing is further from reality. The Highland Games are a renowned sporting championship and a jewel of Scottish cultural heritage.

And it is not simply about throwing a caber (trunk) of 5.5 meters in length and almost 70 kilos. You have to train hard all year to get the piece of wood to fall the right way. And if not, ask the Scotsman Jamie Barr, whose credentials include the Strongest Man titles in Scotland, Great Britain and Europe, among others. The month of September is the high point of the games with events in Blairgowrie, Pitlochry and Braemar, the competition that the Queen never misses.

The highlands attract both romantics and bon vivants, exemplified by the Blas festival, dedicated to Gaelic culture. With music, songs, dances and feasts on boats and emblematic buildings.

On safari in Scotland

For some years now, the Highlands have been positioning themselves as one of the main European destinations for nature tourism. With projects to reintroduce near-extinct wildlife (like the one at the Alladale Wilderness lodge), 4×4 safaris and dog sledding, the highlands are an animal and wildlife lover’s paradise. The deer are the ones who rule these places.  But you can also see dolphins in the Kyle of Lochalsh, seals in the Loch Fleet, moose and wild boar in Sutherland, golden eagles and wildcats in the Cairngnorms and otters on Skye.

Counting stars

Highland nights are as beautiful as their days. These lands have some of the least polluted skies on the European continent. It is not uncommon for the aurora borealis to be witnessed, a phenomenon restricted to areas close to the arctic circle. Dark Sky Scotland collects a selection of romantic dark sky parks to be closer to the stars.

Sleep like a king

Carbisdale Castle on the Kyle of Sutherland, is probably the most luxurious youth hostel in the world. Eating breakfast in front of a collection of Italian statues and sleeping in the same rooms that housed princes and king’s costs about twenty pounds a night. The price includes alternating with the different ghosts that inhabit the castle.

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