The Western Highlands of Scotland

One of my favorite places to set a story is the western and northern Highlands of Scotland. This, to me, is one of the most beautiful places on earth. It is rugged and harsh country. The mostly bare mountains of rock jut up from the boggy, wet landscape. In summer some of the mountains are covered in the most vivid green vegetation. I couldn't say what the plant is but when the sun shines on it, the green is so bright and velvety it is almost blinding. (above: Glen Coe) In other areas, heather cloaks the mountains and hills and in mid-summer turns bright pinkish-purple. The air here is fresh, cool and clean. Lochs, small and large, dot the landscape. The peat that forms the bogs turns the water naturally brown which creates dark lochs that reflect the dramatic sky.

The sky seems a part of the landscape. The clouds drift down and caress the mountains. In the morning, the mist rises and floats, ghost-like as rays of sunlight knife through. It is such a magical, mystical place. It is easy to see how many myths and legends were born here.


(above: near Ullapool)
As well, the people who lived here hundreds of years ago were as tough and rugged as their surroundings. They had to be in order to survive. Crops are difficult if not impossible to grow here because of the inappropriate or nonexistent soil in the wet bogs or on the rocky slopes. Sheep and cattle survived by eating the vegetation. The climate is cool and damp here most of the year so wool clothing was a must. The most famous of the wool cloth woven by Highlanders was plaid. What we today call a great kilt or belted plaid was to Highland men back in history the most practical of clothing which suited their lifestyle.

(Below: Eilean Donan Castle in the Western Highlands)
(Above: Sango Bay near Durness in northern Scotland)
I like imagining and writing about Highlanders who lived here their whole lives, fierce and free, loving the Highlands like a family member. They fought for, protected and died for this wild land they called home. If you visit you will know why they were so passionate about it.
13 Responses
  1. Shannon Says:

    Beautiful pictures Nicole! And wonderful blog post - very descriptive - I could perfectly imagine being there.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Shannon


  2. Gerri Bowen Says:

    Beautiful, georgeous pictures, Nicole. I hope I can get there before I'm too old to walk around! :D


  3. Shannnon and Gerri, thanks so much for checking out my post and pics!
    :-)


  4. Eliza Knight Says:

    Sigh...it is so beautiful! I'm hoping to get there in a couple of years or so. Your post was amazing, being able to look at the pictures and reading your description, it was like I was almost there.


  5. Teresa Reasor Says:

    I too love the west Highlands. I love the pictures you posted. MY story is set in the Loch Maree area. Mt. Slioch hovers over the loch, it's peak covered in snow.
    You can see how the glaciers carved out the landscape throughout the area thousands of years ago just by looking at the rough craggy hills and valleys covered with green vegetation.
    It's as much a living entity as the people who live there.
    Write on,
    Teresa Reasor


  6. Lexi Says:

    Oh, Vonda, these pics are great! ANd so are your descriptions. I want to be there right now. Do you think it'll work if I close my eyes and click my heels together three times???


  7. ahhhh....SO gorgeous! Thanks for a little slice of heaven! Monica and I are going this fall (!), and I can hardly wait. I've been once before, over eight years ago now.


  8. Thanks Eliza! I'm so glad you liked it!

    Teresa, I agree, the landscape of Scotland can easily become a wonderful character in your story.

    Thanks Lexi! Yes indeed, click those heels, lady! I'd so love to be there myself right now!

    Thanks Veronica! Please pack me in your trunk!!! :-) (If only I was small as a fairy.) You and Monica will have a most fantastic time! I want to hear all about it too.


  9. ShawnaMoore Says:

    Hi, Vonda!

    What captivating pictures! The castle is especially enchanting. On closing my eyes, I experienced quite a delightful journey to the Western Highlands. Crisp air tickling my nose and putting some spring in my step. Lots of photographic possibilities. So very lush.

    Thanks for sharing the pictures with us :)

    Happy week wishes,

    Shawna


  10. Beautiful pics, Vonda. Do you know if the Western Highlanders had or have a particular reputation among the rest of Scotland like the people "out West" in the U.S.? I think it had to be a wild and wooly bunch who decided to strike out for the West. Perhaps it's the same for those born and raised in the Highlands - a tough existence. Can't ever see pictures of the Highlands without thinking about Braveheart. Just saw a bit of that movie the other night for about the hundreth time!


  11. Tess Mallory Says:

    Ohhhhhhhh....love those photos!!! Amazing!! Great blog!


  12. Great photos, Vonda! Thanks so much for the visual reminder of what I love about Scotland. :-)

    ~ Melissa


  13. Thanks Shawna!! So glad you enjoyed that virtual journey to Scotland.

    Carol, Yes, Highlanders in general had a reputation for being unruly and those in the western Highlands and Islands were the more extreme of those, probably because of the remoteness. They were often called Wild Scots by Lowlanders or the English. Most Highlanders come from a Gaelic culture which is related to the Irish.

    Thanks for checking them out, Tess!!

    Melissa, thanks for taking the virtual trip!


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