It’s High Time to Visit the Highlands and Islands: VisitScotland showcases the unmissable sights

Today Lonely Planet announces the Scottish Highlands and Islands* as one of the top regions in the world to go in 2019, leaving no reason to delay a visit. With impressive scenery, world class dining experiences and an outstanding accommodation offering it’s no wonder this exceptional corner of the globe has scooped up such an impressive accolade.

In light of Lonely Planet’s declaration of the region as a “must-see destination” for the coming year, VisitScotland offers just some of the top reasons for travel-lovers to bump the Highlands and Islands up to the top of their bucket list in 2019.

 

Fabulous fare:

Scotland’s variety and quality of distilleries to explore is unmatched and the Highlands and Islands have plenty to offer, from the chance to stay in the first legal whisky distillery on the Isle of Raasay to a visit to Harris Distillery to pick up a bottle of Isle of Harris Gin, which is only available for purchase from the island. Try out the region’s foodie experiences, including the new Mac & Wild at Falls of Shin, which offers a range of Scottish dishes and is positioned scenically close to the falls where guests can view salmon leaping in the summer months, before enjoying a taste of it in the restaurant. Alternatively, head to Alladale Wilderness Reserve for the chance to fish and forage for food, including herbs, mushrooms and plants with a ranger before having a professional chef to prepare and cook them.

 

Wonderful wildlife:

Boat trips are great way to explore the coastline and discover Scotland’s marine wildlife, Hebridean Whale Cruises operate from Gairloch, giving visitors the chance to get a close up look at Orcas, dolphins and sharks. A stop at John O’Groats while travelling along the North Coast 500 offers wildlife spotting opportunities including seals, orcas, oystercatchers, guillemots and, at certain times of year, puffins. Visitors seeking out the latest wildlife adventure may want to explore the Hebridean Whale Trail, set to launch in 2019. For those who prefer to explore on dry land Beinn Eighe nature reserve in Wester Ross, famous for its ancient pinewoods, is an ideal location for spotting wildlife; come here to see soaring golden eagles or red deer.

 

Beautiful views:

For stunning views over open sea walk the Waternish peninsula loop, a beautiful and less frequently explored part of Skye. The Highlands also offer autumn and winter visitors the opportunity to see the incredible northern lights; places with the best conditions of low light pollution include the far North West of Scotland and the Outer Hebrides. Visitors taking in the Northern Lights will be in an ideal location to enjoy a landscape so outstanding that it has been designated as a UNESCO Global Geopark at Knockan Crag National Nature Reserve.

 

Fascinating history:

Discover the site of one of the most famous and dramatic battles in Scottish history at the interactive Culloden Visitor Centre, catch one of the regular ‘living history’ re-enactments of the fray which marked the end of the 1745 Jacobite Rising. Visitors looking to combine hiking in outstanding scenery with fascinating history can head to Glencoe to learn about the tragic and infamous massacre which took place there. Glencoe’s award-winning, eco-friendly visitor centre is a brilliant place to learn about the landscape and soak up the sights.

 

Exceptional accommodation:

There is something for everyone ranging from camping at idyllic and well-equipped spots such as Talla Na Mara in Harris to luxury in a stunning setting at Inverlochy Castle, which boasts views of the surrounding mountains and furnishings gifted to the castle by the King of Norway. Discover unique places to sleep such as Blacksheep House, a contemporary renovation of a traditional Hebridean Blackhouse or The Broch at Borve Lodge Estate, believed to be the first broch** built in the UK since the Roman era. For art-lovers The Lime Tree in Fort William is unmissable, offering guests a chance to stay in a hotel which is also a working studio for artist David Wilson with an attached art gallery on site, housing a permanent collection of this Highland artist’s works.

 

Scotland on the Silver Screen:

The Highlands provide a naturally stunning setting for film-makers and visitors can see iconic locations from their favourite films, including the peak of Suilven, the 731m tall mountain in Sutherland climbed by Edie on her life-affirming journey, or the sweeping cinematic scenery of Harry Potter on board the Jacobite Steam Train, widely regarded as the real life Hogwarts Express. For Bond fans a drive through the atmospheric highland scenery and past the striking Buachallie Etive Mor on the way to Glencoe will set them on the same road as 007 (Daniel Craig) and M (Judy Dench) making their way to Bond’s childhood home in Skyfall.

 

Off the beaten track:

For those looking to Skye for their next adventure consider a trip to Raasay; a peaceful paradise for walkers and nature lovers, the island also offers a chance to visit one of the stops on the new Hebridean Whisky Trail. Or head to Sutherland and Caithness which boast unspoilt, dramatic scenery in some of the most remote parts of Scotland; these areas are the perfect place to explore while enjoying true peace and quiet on the extreme edge of Europe.

 

 

To discover more about the Highlands and Islands visit: www.visitscotland.com.

 

*Lonely Planet defines the Highlands in the book as the area above the Highland Boundary Fault - the topographical feature that divides the Lowlands and the Highlands and which goes diagonally from Helensburgh in the west to just above Stonehaven in the east coast. The ‘Islands’ in this case refers to the Outer Hebrides.

 

**A broch is a prehistoric circular stone tower found in north Scotland and adjacent islands.

 

ENDS

 

The most romantic honeymoon destinations in Britain

If like Prince Harry and Meghan Markle you’re in the process of planning your honeymoon, why not take inspiration from some of Britain’s most romantic locations for your first holiday as a married couple.

 

Chewton Glen, New Forest
Rise above it all in Chewton Glen's Treehouses, which seamlessly blend Chewton Glen's luxury style with a forest-canopy setting. Check into a Treehouse Hideaway Suite, soak in your private outdoor hot tub on the terrace deck or cuddle up in front of the wood burner, then stroll along the glass-covered walkway hand-in-hand to your bedroom pod - all with unforgettable forest canopy views. Chewton Glen is on the edge of the New Forest, 90 miles south west of London.

 

Bryn Eglur, Wales
At Bryn Eglur, in west Wales you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd retreated back to the 18th century. Built in 1755, this typical Welsh smallholder's cottage has been lovingly restored to that era, with lime-washed walls, an antique Welsh box bed, inglenook fireplace and cherry-red Rayburn stove. Apart from a bathroom with a roll-top bath, the place is refreshingly lacking in modern gadgetry, meaning you'll have all the time in the world to simply focus on each other. You'll find Bryn Eglur a two-hour drive west of Cardiff.

 

Brassington, Peak District
Film lovers should head to Town Street Barn, a self-catering apartment tucked away in the eaves of Brassington, a village on the edge of the Peak District, three hours north of London. Inside, you'll find a roll-top bath positioned under a sky light in the bedroom - perfect for stargazing - and your own mini cinema; the ‘Brassington Picture House' even has a retro cabinet stocked with traditional cinema snacks.

 

Middleton Hall, Northumberland
You'll have otters for neighbors at the romantic Boathouse at Middleton Hall in Northumberland, north-east England. Standing on stilts on the edge of the lake, the open-plan design and floor-to-ceiling windows take full advantage of the views across the water. Get even closer to the otters and birds that also call this lake home with a jaunt in the flat-bottomed rowing boat that's included in the stay.

 

County Down, Northern Ireland
Equally romantic is Helen's Tower, a granite tower perched high on a wooded hill top in Co Down, Northern Ireland. Named after Helen Selina Blackwood (the mother of the 5th Baron of Dufferin and Ava), a number of poems written in her honor by the likes of Tennyson, Robert Browning and Rudyard Kipling are inscribed in the tower's wood-panelled octagonal poetry room. Make your sweetheart swoon as you read them out. Game of Thrones' fans may be more impressed by the tower's history as a filming location for the award-winning TV series.

 

Isle of Mull, Scotland
For the ultimate honeymoon-in-a-castle retreat, book The Tower Rooms in Glengorm Castle, on the Isle of Mull, Scotland. This unique serviced apartment has access to the roof looking over the castle's fairytale turrets and the Compass Room, a secluded room with knee-quivering views in all four directions. When you've had your fill of the view, join the six-hour guided Volcano wildlife walk and spot red deer, peregrine falcons and golden eagles before collapsing into your king-sized bed.

 

Mawgan Porth, Cornwall
The only thing more romantic than soaking in a hot tub together is soaking in a wooden hot tub on a cliff top with far-reaching Atlantic views, with Champagne! The Scarlet Hotel on the rugged north coast of Cornwall in south-west England is a luxury adults-only eco hotel that refuses to compromise when it comes to guilt-free pampering. Even better, the spa really knows its stuff when it comes to indulging newlyweds. Try the four-hour Rediscover (for couples) with Ayurvedic Massages and follow your hot tub with a hammam, synchronised full body massages and an enormous scented bath.

 

Scottish Highlands
If your idea of romance involves the open road, head for the hills - the Scottish Highlands to be precise. McKinlay Kidd's Highlands and Islands Honeymoon tour sees you and your new spouse zoom between some indescribably romantic places and experiences, from a round-island yacht cruise and the enchanting Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye, to an indescribably romantic hotel tucked away at the end of a glen and along one of the world's greatest drives through Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park - all in a cute Mini Cooper.

 

The Cotswolds
Alternatively, in the picture-perfect Cotswolds, west England, you can cruise along hedge-lined country lanes, over sheep-speckled hills and through honey-stone villages in classic cars that will make you drool; think Jaguar E-type convertibles, MGB Roadsters and Rolls Royce Silver Shadows. But for serious wow appeal, hire an open-top Morgan sports car direct from the Morgan factory in nearby Malvern. Don't miss Copse Hill Road in Lower Slaughter, apparently Britain's most romantic street.

 

Bath, Wiltshire
In Bath, south-west England, you can take to the skies in a hot-air balloon for an aerial view of the city's Roman remains and curvaceous Georgian crescents. Book Bath Balloon's Exclusive Champagne Flights for Two (plus the pilot, of course) and follow up your flight with a dip in the rooftop pool at Bath Thermae Spa. Jane Austen fans should take a stroll along Gravel Walk too; it's where Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth finally agree to marry in Persuasion.

 

Machynlleth, Wales

Newlyweds who love their food can book the Michelin Dining Package at Ynyshir Hall, an award-winning luxury country house hotel in mid Wales, just over two hours north of Cardiff. Sit at the Chef's Table and watch Head Chef Gareth Ward and his team create a surprise tasting menu just for the two of you; it's the ultimate private-dining experience, in one of Wales' best restaurants. For added kudos, request the Vermeer room, where Richard Gere stayed while filming First Knight; the separate sitting room and walk-in closet help amp up the romance factor too.