“The Cairngorms National Park covers an area of 1,748 sq miles in the council areas of Aberdeenshire, Moray, Highland, Angus and Perth and Kinross. The mountain range of the Cairngorms lies at the heart of the national park, but forms only one part of it, alongside other hill ranges such as the Angus Glens and the Monadhliath, and lower areas like Strathspey and upper Deeside. Three major rivers rise in the park: the Spey the Dee and the Don. The Spey, which is the second longest river in Scotland, rises in the Monadhliath, whilst the Dee and the Don both rise in the Cairngorms themselves.
The Cairngorms themselves are a spectacular landscape, similar in appearance to the Hardangervidda National Park of Norway in having a large area of upland plateau. The range consists of three main plateaux at about 1000–1200 m above sea level, above which domed summits (the eroded stumps of once much higher mountains) rise to around 1300 m. Many of the summits have tors, free-standing rock outcrops that stand on top of the boulder-strewn landscape. The edges of the plateaux are in places steep cliffs of granite and they are excellent for skiing, rock climbing and ice climbing. The Cairngorms form an arctic-alpine mountain environment, with tundra-like characteristics and long-lasting snow patches.
The Monadhliath Mountains lie to the north of Strathspey, and comprise a bleak, wide plateau rising to between 700 and 950 m.
Two major transport routes run through the park, with both the A9 road and the Highland Main Line crossing over the Pass of Drumochter and running along Strathspey, providing links between the western and northern parts of the park and the cities of Perth and Inverness. The Highland Main Line is the only mainline rail route through the park, however there are several other major roads, including the A86, which links Strathspey to Fort William, and the A93, which links the Deeside area of the park to both Perth and Aberdeen.”Wikipedia Page
Activities in the Cairngorm National Park
Loch Ness is a large, deep, freshwater loch in the Scottish Highlands extending for approximately 23 miles southwest of Inverness. Its surface is 16 metres 52 feet above sea level. Loch Ness is best known for alleged sightings of the cryptozoological Loch Ness Monster, also known affectionately as “Nessie”.
It is connected at the southern end by the River Oich and a section of the Caledonian Canal to Loch Oich. At the northern end there is the Bona Narrows which opens out into Loch Dochfour, which feeds the River Ness and a further section of canal to Inverness, ultimately leading to the North Sea via the Moray Firth. It is one of a series of interconnected, murky bodies of water in Scotland; its water visibility is exceptionally low due to a high peat content in the surrounding soil.Loch Ness Wikipedia Page
The impressive ruins of Urquhart Castle-located just a few minutes from Drumnadrochit-stand on a tongue of land jutting out into Loch Ness. Set against the backdrop of lake and mountain, the castle, once one of Scotland’s largest fortifications, is at the center of many ancient myths. Dating from the 12th century, it was a typical example of a motte and bailey fortification, but in the 14th century, stone walls replaced the original wooden structure.
Then in 1509, James IV gave the castle to John Grant of Freuchie, who commissioned the extension to the keep, and at the end of the 17th century, the fortified castle fell victim to a fire. Often making appearances in TV shows and movies, the castle was recently featured in an episode of the TV series Outlander . Today, visitors can enjoy on-site facilities including a café, gift shop, and stunning views of the loch.Visiting Loch Ness: 8 Top Attractions & Tours
Loch Ness Visitors Centre and Exhibition
The spellbinding stone circle – the Ring of Brodgar – is arguably the most iconic symbol of Orkney’s prehistoric past. It is a site of ritual and ceremony, and hauntingly beautiful.Orkney.com
The Ring of Brodgar is an archaeological treasure and without doubt one of the islands’ most visited attractions. It can be found in a magical landscape that is the Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most photographed attractions in Orkney – particularly at sunset. The ring was built around 2500-2000BC and covering an area of almost 8,500 square metres it is the third largest stone circle in the British Isles – just pipped by Avebury and Stanton Drew.
Sitting within a natural amphitheatre of hills and surrounded by a ditch, 27 of the original 60 stones survive today and the guided tour of the site by Historic Scotland is highly recommended to discover the secrets of the ring. According to legend, it was a religious shrine and possibly a place of ritual, while others believe the ring was built for the astronomical observation of the equinox and solstice. The truth is, we don’t know for sure which only adds to the mystique.
Nearby, the solitary Comet Stone keeps a watchful eye, while just one mile from the site the Standing Stones of Stenness cast their spell. Four giant megaliths, at a towering six metres, date back to 3100BC making it one of the oldest stones circles in Britain. Close by, the Barnhouse settlement reveals an excavated group of house dwellings dating from 3300-2600BC.
The Ring of Brodgar comprises:Historic Environment Scotland
– A massive stone circle, originally consisting of 60 stones
– At least 13 prehistoric burial mounds
– A large rock-cut ditch surrounding the stone circle
The Scottish geologist Hugh Miller, visiting in 1846, wrote that the stones ‘look like an assemblage of ancient druids, mysteriously stern and invincibly silent and shaggy’.
The Ring of Brodgar is part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site, a series of important domestic and ritual monuments built 5000 years ago in the Orkney Islands.
The Neolithic settlement of Skara Brae is one of the best preserved groups of prehistoric houses in Western Europe. It gives a remarkable picture of life 5,000 years ago, before Stonehenge was built.
The Neolithic village of Skara Brae was discovered in the winter of 1850. Wild storms ripped the grass from a high dune known as Skara Brae, beside the Bay of Skaill, and exposed an immense midden (refuse heap) and the ruins of ancient stone buildings. The discovery proved to be the best-preserved Neolithic village in northern Europe. And so it remains today.
Skara Brae was inhabited before the Egyptian pyramids were built, and flourished for centuries before construction began at Stonehenge. It is some 5,000 years old. But it is not its age alone that makes it so remarkable and so important. It is the degree to which it has been preserved. The structures of this semi-subterranean village survive in impressive condition. So, amazingly, does the furniture in the village houses. Nowhere else in northern Europe are we able to see such rich evidence of how our remote ancestors actually lived.
The profound importance of this remarkable site was given official recognition in 1999 when it was inscribed upon the World Heritage List as part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site.
All the houses are well-built of closely-fitting flat stone slabs. They were set into large mounds of midden (household refuse) and linked by covered passages. Each house comprised a single room with a floor space of roughly 40sq m. The ‘fitted’ stone furniture within each room comprised a dresser, where prized objects were probably stored and displayed, two box-beds, a hearth centrally placed and small tanks set into the floor, perhaps for preparing fish bait.
A rich array of artefacts and ecofacts has been discovered during the various archaeological excavations. They include gaming dice, hand tools, pottery and jewellery (necklaces, beads, pendants and pins). Most remarkable are the richly carved stone objects, perhaps used in religious rituals. The villagers were farmers, hunters and fishermen, capable of producing items of beauty and sophistication with rudimentary technology. No weapons have been found and the settlement was not in a readily defended location, suggesting a peaceful life.
Most of the artefacts are now on view in the visitor centre, a short walk away.
Village life appears to have ended around 2,500 BC. No one knows why. Some argue that it was because a huge sandstorm engulfed their houses, others that it was more gradual. As village life came to an end, new monuments were beginning to rise up on mainland Orkney, including most importantly the chambered tomb at Maes Howe and the impressive stone circles at the Ring of Brodgar and Stenness.isitors can explore this prehistoric village and see ancient homes fitted with stone beds, dressers and seats. A replica house allows visitors to explore its interior, while the visitor centre provides touch-screen presentations, fact-finding quizzes and an opportunity to see artefacts discovered during the archaeological excavations of the 1970s.VisitScotland
Skara Brae – The Discovery and Excavation of Orkney’s finest Neolithic sites
Culloden is the name of a village three miles east of Inverness. Three miles south of the village is Drumossie Moor (often called Culloden Moor), site of the Battle of Culloden.
The Battle of Culloden was the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising of 1745. On 16 April 1746, the Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart were decisively defeated by Hanoverian forces commanded by William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands.
The two forces met at Culloden, on terrain that made the highland charge difficult and gave the larger and well-armed British forces the advantage. The battle lasted only an hour, with the Jacobites suffering a bloody defeat. Between 1,500 and 2,000 Jacobites were killed or wounded in the brief battle. In contrast, only about 300 government soldiers were killed or wounded.
The Hanoverian victory at Culloden halted the Jacobite intent to overthrow the House of Hanover and restore the House of Stuart to the British throne; Charles Stuart never again tried to challenge Hanoverian power in Great Britain. The conflict was the last pitched battle fought on British soil.The Battle of Culloden Wikipedia Page
As you approach the Glencoe area from the south on the main highway – A82, the road passes through Rannoch Moor – a beautiful and wild landscape with mountains and lochs on either side. As your journey continues, the Aonach Eagach Ridge, the Buachaille Etive Mor, Bidean nan Beinn and many others are the main features of this landscape, and one very popular with climbers and walkers.VisitFortWilliam
The West Highland Way – a superb long-distance walk from Glasgow to Fort William passes through Glencoe on its way to Kinlochleven.
Rannoch Moor is memorable, beautiful, unspoiled and awesome. You can’t really appreciate it until you visit it.
One of the last remaining wildernesses in Europe, the Great Moor of Rannoch is a beautiful outdoor space stretching far north and west from Rannoch Station.
The area is a vast stretch of land composed of blanket bog, lochans, rivers, and rocky outcrops which makes it a very challenging environment which still supports varieties of flora and fauna. A wealth of plants, insect, bird and animal life can be seen here ranging from curlews and grouse to roe and red deer.
The best way to get a feel for this unique area is to take a train journey on the famous West Highland Railway as the railway line crosses the moorland for 23 miles and rises to over 1,300 ft.
There is plenty of challenging and exhilarating walks in the remote hills and cycling routes. High mountains are also a feature of the moor although these are best left to experienced hillwalkers with excellent navigation skills. Lower level paths from the Rannoch Station area include a 9 mile linear tramp through to Corrour and Loch Ossian and also a 7 mile circuit of Loch Ossain.
For Outlander fans, Kinloch Rannoch was used as one of its filming locations. Possibly the most iconic Outlander locations, Kinloch Rannoch was used for the site of Craigh na Dun. It is here, in the very first episode, that Claire visits the stone circle and is thrown back in time to 1743. There she meets Captain ‘Black Jack’ Randall, a sadistic British officer, before being rescued by a passing highlander, Murtagh.
There is a visitor centre at Rannoch Moor which showcases the beauty and interest of the moor – its evolution, early historical developments, flora and fauna and the importance of the railway to the area.VisitScotland
The Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat lift in central Scotland, connecting the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. The lift is named after Falkirk, the town in which it is located. It reconnects the two canals for the first time since the 1930s. It opened in 2002 as part of the Millennium Link project.
The wheel raises boats by 24 metres (79 ft), but the Union Canal is still 11 metres (36 ft) higher than the aqueduct which meets the wheel. Boats must also pass through a pair of locks between the top of the wheel and the Union Canal.
The Falkirk Wheel is the only rotating boat lift of its kind in the world, and one of two working boat lifts in the United Kingdom, the other being the Anderton Boat Lift.Falkirk Wheel Wikipedia Page
Arguably one of the most beautiful places in the whole of Scotland, Glen Coe is about 4 hours drive from Aberdeen, near Fort William on the West coast of Scotland.
Glen Coe (Scottish Gaelic: Gleann Comhann) is a glen of volcanic origins, in the Highlands of Scotland. It lies in the north of the county of Argyll, close to the border with the historic province of Lochaber, within the modern council area of Highland. The scenic beauty of the glen has led to its inclusion in the Ben Nevis and Glen Coe National Scenic Area, one of 40 such areas in Scotland. A review of the national scenic areas by Scottish Natural Heritage in 2010 made reference to the “soaring, dramatic splendour of Glen Coe”, and “the suddenness of the transition between high mountain pass and the lightly wooded strath” in the lower glen. It also described the journey through the glen on the main A82 road as “one of the classic Highland journeys”. The main settlement is the village of Glencoe located at the foot of the glen. The glen is regarded as the home of Scottish mountaineering and is popular with hillwalkers and climbers.Glen Coe Wikipedia page
“In Scottish history, the glen is forever linked to the Massacre of Glen Coe, which occurred on 13 February 1692. Following the defeat of the Jacobite Uprising of 1689, an estimated 30 members and associates of Clan MacDonald of Glen Coe were killed by government forces, associated with Clan Campbell, who were billeted with them, on the grounds they had not been prompt in pledging allegiance to the new monarchs, William III of England and II of Scotland and Mary II.
In the eyes of many contemporaries, the unjustified bloodshed was not the principal crime – there had been bloodier events in the history of the Highlands than the massacre at Glen Coe – nor even the fact that survivors were forced to contend with the winter blizzard which caused many to perish while trying to get to safety. It was the fact of slaughter under trust – the breach of hospitality which also broke old Scots’ law.”
“The Massacre of Glencoe was not the bloodiest, not the most treacherous act in the history of the Highlands; but, it was murder under trust that could not be forgiven. The bond of trust, even among enemies which had helped people survive in the wild Highlands was broken for good, it was the beginning of the end; and for that all were to blame.”David McNicoll