Fast Facts - Scottish Highlands
Castles. The Highlands may be lightly populated, but the land is rich in castles, some of which are open to the public. The Castle of Mey, the northernmost castle in Scotland, belonged to the Queen Mother. Eilean Donan Castle stands, strategically, where three lochs meet. Urquhart Castle, now a ruin, hugs the shores of Loch Ness.
Coast. The Scottish Highlands are surrounded on three sides by 1,900 kilometres of coast. Beyond the coast lie islands which also belong to Scotland, though some of these islands have answered to other lands in the past. Thus as you reach the high Highlands you will find a proliferation of Norse placenames in areas that were linked to the Northern Isles through invasion, monarchy or trade.
Culloden. At the Battle of Culloden in 1746, the Duke of Cumberland defeated Bonnie Prince Charlie and his highland army. Over 1,000 Scottish men died that April day on the battlefield then named Drumossie Moor. The English, basking in victory, chose to impose tough measures on any remaining sympathisers to the Jacobite cause (which aimed to ensure a Stuart king ruled Britain) to ensure no such uprising could happen again. Culloden was the last battle to take place in Britain.
Highland Clearances. Sheep were to deal a blow greater than Culloden to the traditional, clan based way of life in the Highlands. Crofting could not meet the needs of landowners intent on establishing farming that needed less people and more land. So landlords started to uproot their tenants, evicting those that did not go willingly, sending highlanders further down the country, to the coast, to England and abroad. The central Highlands have never recovered what was lost in this period, and the majority of the population live in settlements round the coast. The clearances - the Scottish diaspora - have left a legacy around the world, with many countries, including the USA and Australia, actively celebrating Scottish culture and history.
Highland Games. Games take place throughout the Highlands every summer; in the past they provided an opportunity for men from different clans to prove their prowess and impress their leader. Today Games retain many traditional events including tossing the caber and hammer throwing; they abound in fine examples of country dancing and pipe playing.
Sports. Popular highland sports include climbing, cycling, mountain biking, skiing and snowboarding . Inland and coastal waters are used for a variety of water sports including kayaking, sailing, surfing and water skiing. The Highlands provide wonderful opportunities for walking, including long distance routes such as the West Highland Way – a ninety-six mile trek from Milngavie to Fort William.
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