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DAY TRIPS IN SCOTLAND: THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS

Driving through the rugged and remote Scottish Highlands we felt like we had entered a magical land. The Highlands are the most mountainous, least inhabited, and most scenic part of Scotland – the perfect place for a mini road trip.

A red Jeep Wrangler pulled up to the hotel with our welcoming kilted chauffeur, from Discreet Scotland Tours, ready to take us out on a Scottish adventure. We were told we were about to see some of Scotland’s most picturesque landscapes and was he right! Only after 20 or so minutes on the road we had left the city and were surrounded by vast open plains, nature all around.

It was time for a day spent in the highlands …

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Doune Castle

Our first stop for the day was at the medieval Doune Castle. Built in 1390 by 1st Duke of Albany Robert Stewart, it was later used by Mary Queens of Scots before its use as a prison.

Today it is more famously known as the castle from Monty Python’s The Holy Grail and also Winterfell from Game of Thrones. Both being big GoT fans we were excited to finally find a taste of the television series here in Europe.

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The Wildlife

A favourite of ours when exploring the highlands was getting to see some Highland Coo. These Scottish cattle are found throughout the region, known for having a beautiful shaggy coat and incredible horns.

During the tour we found out Scotland’s national animal was the mythical unicorn. The unicorn felt fitting for such a fascinating country, rich in history and steeped in myths, legends and magic. We ran into two unicorns during our time in the highlands… unfortunately they had both lost their horns!

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The Lochs

Something that makes the highlands, and Scotland in general, so spectacular is the many beautiful lochs scattered throughout the country. As the majority of lochs are found in the Scottish Highlands, we of course passed many during our drive. Some so completely still and flat that they acted as a mirror, reflecting the stunning scenery surrounding it. 

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The Munros

A Munro is a mountain in Scotland with a height over 3000 feet, and the highlands are full of them!

Compared to other continental ranges, Scottish mountains are not the highest, but climbing them can be incredibly treacherous due to their latitude and exposure to Atlantic and Arctic weather systems. Many people aim to climb every Munro, known as Munro bagging.

The most incredible Munro we came across was Buachaille Etive Mor, and many would agree. It stands at the entrance to Glencoe and is one of the most photographed Munros in the country.

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Glencoe

After a long scenic drive we finally arrived to Glencoe – a main stop over for travellers exploring the highlands.

Glencoe is broodingly beautiful and steeped in history, having quite the dark past. The most famous case is the Sack of the MacDonald’s: On the 13th of February 1692, almost the entire MacDonald clan were massacred in their beds on order from the English King, William 3. Around forty people were immediately killed, the rest fled to the mountains where they soon perished due to hunger and the cold winter winds.

But Glencoe is not only known for its dark past – it also happens to be the birth place of a famous Secret Agent: James Bond. 007.

For those of you who have seen the previous Bond-film, Skyfall, you may remember that Bond heads back to Scotland, to his birthplace Skyfall. Many of these scenes were filmed here in Glencoe. Which is pretty cool as many of you may not be aware, but Skyfall is in fact a real place. And this place is were a little boy named Ian Fleming once grew up (the creator of James Bond)!

Not only did Ian Fleming create one of the most famous secret agents of all time, he also allowed him to grow up in the very same place as he himself had… at Skyfall.

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How To Explore The Highlands

If you are staying in Edinburgh we highly recommend taking a day out of your schedule to experience the beautiful Scottish highlands. As the highlands is quite the drive, taking over 6 hours from Edinburgh to Glencoe and back, we feel it is best taking a private tour out for the day. We explored the highlands with Discreet Scotland Luxury Private Tours. For 10 hours we were taken out in a private Jeep to experience the highlands in all its beauty! 

Book the Scottish Highlands Tour from US$619.

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Have you explored the Scottish Highlands? We would love to read about your experience.

Flying The Nest was kindly invited by Discreet Scotland Tours to experience the highlands, however our opinion is, as always, our own.

Stephen and Jess signoff

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  • Great post! I love the Scottish Highlands, especially in autumn. I did a great day tour through the West Highlands and fell in love the magic of Scotland! I particularly loved Inveraray Castle

  • I have always wanted to visited the Highlands, I’m only in London so I should definitely make the trip, looks beautiful.

  • This looks like such a beautiful trip! The views are amazing. Once the kids get a bit older, I’d love to travel more!

  • Beautiful photos! That looks like such a beautiful country. I’ve never been to Scotland- not sure if I ever will be able to!

  • Vera Sweeney

    The country side of Scotland is breath taking!!! I would love to visit the castles there they are beautiful!!!

  • Rachel

    Wow, everything about those pictures is just stunning. What a magical country.

  • Wendy

    Scotland and Ireland are the next places on my list of vacation spots. Can’t wait to start planning my next one. These pictures are making me want to go now!

  • These photos are gorgeous!! 🙂

  • Alli Smith

    Beautiful! My dad’s side of the family is Scottish, but I’ve never been to Scotland before. After seeing all these gorgeous photos, I really want to go more than ever.

  • Loved your post – what can’t we love about your Scottish adventures! So enjoyed your video – and I didn’t know about the Doune Castle history – let alone all of your other interesting facts and images!

  • valmg

    It sounds like you had a great time. I went to Scotland in my early teens and have always wanted to return.

  • Erin Shebish

    What a beautiful trip! I’m thoroughly jealous! I would absolutely love to visit someday.

  • Stephanie

    That looks like a really fun trip. I’m so jealous! I’ve never been out of theUS

  • SAMPS

    I would metaphorically cut off my little toe (or at least half of it) to go on a trip to Scotland. By the looks of your photography I would have the time of my life. The Castles rock and that bovine looks so metal! Scotland is on my bucket list.

  • We travel to Europe often but have not yet made our way over to Scotland. It sure does look beautiful.

  • WOW the view…so dreamy…so beautiful! Love it! Scotland is definitely on my bucket list 😀

  • WOW, Talk about a breath taking view! I am so jealous that you get to travel like the way you do! I hope one day I get to travel like this! It has to be so amazing to explore the world.

  • themommyfiles

    That sounds like an amazing adventure! I would love to go to Scotland someday!

  • you have such amazing photos! Scotland is one of the places in my bucket list and I wish I can just go there in a heartbeat.