The Highlands rate amongst some of the most spectacular scenery in the world and despite its changeable weather it makes an ideal platform for walkers, adventure sports enthusiasts and whicky connasseurs! In the winter the whole area is taken over by ski enthusiasts and climbers who take advantage of challenging conditions, this is also when the Highlands are at argueably their most beautiful. In the summer, the weather can be extremely changeable and with the hot humid weather brings the possibility of biting midges (get Avon Skinsoft!).
It is possible to travel the Highlands without a car, especially if you have a lot of time. It is advisable to plan your route carefully if you plan to walk most of the time and make sure you keep a check on local weather conditions and transport. Most people will fly into Edinburgh, Glasgow or Inverness and then catch a bus of train into the Highlands. If you are travelling from England, trains run all the way to Inverness but can be expensive unless booking in advance, also note that flights and trains to Edinburgh are more expensive and get booked up in August when the Edinburgh Festival takes place.
By far the best way to see the Highland if you have limited time is by car, of which a week is the absolute minimum. It takes about 10-12 hours from Southern England depending on traffic and if you are not keen on doing it all in one go it is recommended you stop off halfway, York or the Lake District are not bad halfway points. The further north you go the more challenging the driving will become especially if you leave the A-Roads, some of the driving routes are not recommended for learner drivers. Remember also to fill up regularly in more remote areas as Petrol stations can be hard to come by.
If you plan to stay in hostels or bed and breakfasts it is advisable you book well in advance as accomodation in Scotland books up in the summer and busy winter months. You may be lucky if your happy to stay in a dorm or bunk house, but ordinarily if you want your own room you should book in advance. Most campsites will probably have space unless they are in very busy areas and quite often these are a much more economical and enjoyable way to stay and enjoy the Highlands. In the very upper parts of the Highlands it is possible to camp anywhere as long as you are not obviously on someones land.
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Things to do
Edinburgh - A city full of culture which will get its own section soon, highlights include:
Stirling - History
Jacobite Train Journey
Isle of Skye
Pass of the Cattle
The Lock Inn (Canalside) - Probably the best pub in Fort Augustus, this cosy pub has a wide selection of whiskies as well as a great restaurant upstairs. Make sure you try the haggis/black pudding starter. They also have live music on some nights which as a result means the pub stays open a bit later
Lovat Arms Hotel - Has a good restaurant not a bad option if you prefer to steer clear of pubs
Poachers - Pub with Sky Sports popular with younger locals
The Neuk Internet Café & Restaurant - Pricey internet but has a licensed restaurant.
The Bothy Bite - Very popular restaurant on the canalside worth booking in advance, also has a small bar.
Dunvegan Hotel - Large pub/restuarant with pool and snooker tables. Offers live music on some nights. The restaurant upstairs serves up average but homely food.
Applecross Inn - The only pub/restaurant in Applecross which can get very busy, its advisable to arrive early if you want a seat for the evening although it does clear after all the families go to bed. The food served is pricey but delicious and they also have live music on some nights.
The Winking Owl (Grampian Rd) - Popular pub serving good bar meals is a
lively après-ski haunt
MacKenzies (Grampian Rd) - Large chain pub with cheap pub food and drinks, also has Sky Sports and is child friendly unlike a lot of the pubs in Aviemore.
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