These are the five picturesque places you should visit if you are planning a staycation to the Scottish Highlands according to Louise Chandler.
Using the opportunity of a brief visit to the Scottish Highlands to complete her ‘Three Peaks Challenge’, having conquered Scafell Pike (England) and Mount Snowdon (Wales) in 2021, broadcaster and PR professional Louise Chandler recently completed the challenge by hiking up Ben Nevis, Scotland’s largest mountain.
Louise said: “I’ve always wanted to visit the Scottish Highlands and it did not disappoint.”
However, while there, she realised that the Scottish Highlands made a wonderful destination for a staycation and set about exploring the local landscape and seeing the sights.
“It feels like another world that I haven’t experienced, and I can’t wait to go back.”
Read on for her recommendation on the five places to visit in the Scottish Highlands.
Conquer Ben Nevis
Ben Nevis (affectionately known as ‘The Ben’), attracts an estimated 125,000 climbers per year who bravely trek up the famous Mountain Track (aka the Pony Track) on a zigzag, rocky path along a cliff edge.
Located beside the town of Fort William, the summit is 1,340 metres high – oh yes, it’s a magnificent Munro – another word for mountain in Scotland. We were blown away by the stunning views throughout the eight-hour hike (up and down the peak).
The summit is covered in crisp, deep and crunchy snow and the scenery as you walk higher and higher up is superb. The views of velvety mountains, lakes, valleys and natural terrain left me feeling humble as I inhaled the freshest and cleanest air for miles.
Make no mistake, the climb was mentally and physically exhausting and my joints ached but if you’re up for the challenge, I would certainly encourage anyone to try it, though make sure you don’t forget your hat, gloves, walking poles and water for the hike!
By car it takes approximately 2 -3 hours to drive to Fort William from Glasgow and 3 – 4 hours from Edinburgh depending on traffic. The Caledonian Sleeper from London Euston is a direct train option to Fort William.
Go on the hunt for Nessie (the Loch Ness Monster)
A visit to the Scottish Highlands wouldn’t be complete without a detour to the beautiful Loch Ness near Inverness. The hauntingly beautiful lake comes complete with its very own myths and mysterious tales. Rumour has it that a sea creature called Nessie lurks in the deep and mirror-like waters. Did I see Nessie? Erm, no, but I did enjoy a lovely afternoon at this serene and vast lake.
I drove along the winding route and was blown away by the landscape; every twist and turn in the road is an Instagram-ready image begging to be captured.
You can also hire a boat to enjoy the loch and there are some great adventure sports on offer. Away from the water, there are nearby castles and solitary lighthouses dotted along the landscape that you can explore, all while keeping an eye out for Nessie!
The Loch Ness contains more water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined, making it the most voluminous lake in the UK!
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Follow the route of the Hogwarts Express at Glenfinnan
Harry Potter film fans will spot some familiar sights in Glenfinnan, a lovely hamlet in the Scottish Highlands. Some of the scenes in the second and third Harry Potter books, (Harry Potter and the Chambers of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) took place at Glenfinnan. The scenes where the Hogwarts Express is chugging along the famous Glenfinnan viaduct, situated 100 ft above the ground, are one of the most iconic.
Glenfinnan is a pleasant place for walking. It’s certainly worth a visit for taking some stunning photos and I spotted a wild deer roaming around which was quite a special moment to remember. Nature calls this place home.
Visit the Glenfinnan Monument and Visitor Centre to learn about the Jacobite clansmen who fought and gave their lives in support of “Bonnie Prince Charlie”.
Go off the beaten track with a visit to Arisaig
While driving along the highland coast, you will see various signs for quaint little villages to explore and that’s how I found Arisaig.
This pretty village boasts superb scenery and is filled with a picturesque collection of white-painted homes scattered along the harbour. After a full day of exploring, it also served as the perfect place to stop off for a fish and chips meal and a deep breath of sea-salty air. Just what we needed to rejuvenate us.
The beaches of Arisaig are known as the Silver Sands of Morar. Camusdarach Beach, just north of Arisaig in Lochaber, is praised as being one of the best in the UK.
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Check out the golden beaches: Silver Sands – Morar
When I was told there are golden, sandy beaches in Scotland, I couldn’t believe it. I had to see it for myself! Traveling to Morar almost feels like you’re driving to the end of the earth. The road to Morar has a landscape characterised by a rocky coast and blue seas… and then you see the white sand.
I was thrilled to find a beautiful sandy beach in Scotland, and it was as stunning as I’d heard. I felt like I was on holiday as I tip toed along the soft sandy shoreline.
The Silver Sands of Morar are a string of white sandy beaches; all accessible from the road and they can be enjoyed individually or as a trail.
For more things to do and see in the Scottish Highlands, go to the Visit Scotland website.