Last Updated: 17th May 2011
Although geographically, cultural and ethnically different to the rest of Scotland, it is the Scottish Highlands that is the source of the tartans, clans, bagpipes, heather and whiskey that have become the symbols of the whole country.
The lush, green rolling hills are beautiful n a warm summers day but bitterly cold during the winters. Almost unarguably the most famous site in the Highlands is Loch Ness, home to the mythical and legendary Loch Ness Monster and although the towns and villages are small and quiet, this is the heart of what many people think of when they hear the name ‘Scotland’.
The clan system was a staple of life here until the Highlanders were defeated at the horrible and devastating Battle of Culloden Moor. After the battle the victorious English brutally suppressed the traditional Highland lifestyle and traditions.
The Scots, and particularly the Highlanders, were from then on popularly viewed as poverty stricken barbarians until a more romantic vision of the Highlands was ignited in the late 1700’s. Queen Victoria’s love of Balmoral Castle popularised the Highlands but generations of Highlanders had already fled to overseas to seek better lives. Traces of the old ways of living still remain as over half the inhabitants of the Highlands still live in communities of less than 1000 people.
The Scotish Highlands have a reputation for producing the style of whiskey known the world over as ‘Scotch’. World famous brands of scotch include Johnny Walker, Chivas Regal and Glenfiddich, there are however a myriad of local producers in the Highlands.
Inverness and Loch Ness
Inverness is the largest town and ‘capital’ of the Highland region. Although the city is home to some excellent kilt makers the town is most visited because of what lies to the north: Loch Ness.
One of the more well known events that takes place in the Highlands are the Highland Games. The games are traditional competitions originating in the highland areas of Scotland with the best-known games being held in the towns of Braemar, Inverness, Cowal, Lonach, Ballater and Aboyne and its roots date back to the 11th century. Most of the games are centred on athletics-style competitions but the most famous is still the caber toss.
Other strength based activities like the stone put, the Scottish hammer throw and sheaf toss are popular but of equal importance are the bag pipe, drum playing and dancing events that feature the Sword Dance the Highland Fling and the Highland Reel.