The Scottish Highlands are home to some of Britain’s most dramatic landscapes – from craggy peaks and tranquil lochs to heather-clad moorlands and remote windswept beaches. For solo travellers, it’s the ideal place to disconnect from the daily grind and embrace the great outdoors, whether you fancy hiking, skiing, kayaking or swimming.
There’s a strong resemblance between parts of the Scottish Highlands and Scandinavia, with fjord-like lochs, snowcapped mountains and pine forests aplenty. Unlike the weather, the people are renowned for their warmth – although the accent may take you a while to follow.
The greatest danger here is the weather. When you’re heading off hiking in remote areas, do tell someone roughly where you are going before you set off. Make sure you have sufficient clothing for all weathers – it can close in quickly – as well as food and water and, of course, your phone. Download the What3Words app, where each 3m square has been allocated three words, which is as accurate as GPS coordinates. It’s also sensible to carry a compass.
A three-night stay at the Kingshouse Hotel is included in Culture Trip’s exclusive four-day Scottish Highlands adventure.
Hike or ski in the mountains: Hiking opportunities in the Scottish Highlands are virtually limitless – from strenuous mountain climbs to multi-day treks where you’ll go miles without passing another soul and many more accessible routes. In winter, go skiing at Glencoe, Glenshee, the Cairngorms or the Nevis Range. Conditions vary significantly from year to year, so check before you visit.
Visit famous movie locations: Turn off the A82 shortly after crossing the River Etive near Glencoe and you’ll reach the spot where James Bond pulled up in his Aston Martin in Skyfall (2012). The Glenfinnan Viaduct, meanwhile, is one of many Harry Potter filming locations in Scotland – recreate the Hogwarts Express scene by riding the Jacobite steam train across it.
Paddle across a loch: There are thousands of lochs in the Scottish Highlands; some formed millennia ago by glaciers carving U-shaped valleys, while others simply freshwater lakes. Loch Ness and Loch Lomond are the best-known, but smaller ones – Loch Affric and Loch Maree – are also worth seeking out. Consider renting kayaks, or, if you’re feeling brave, try wild swimming.
Rent a car or use your own and you’ll get the most out of your Scottish Highlands trip. Road networks are extensive and mostly well-paved and you’re never far from the nearest town or village. Public buses are a cheaper alternative, with regular services between the major towns.
Train travel is more expensive, but you have minimal hassle, maximum comfort and magnificent views. Highland towns such as Fort William, Oban and Aviemore are all easy to reach from Inverness, Glasgow or Edinburgh – and the tracks continue up to Thurso, at the northernmost point of the British mainland.
Ready to book? Join our specially curated four-day small-group adventure in the Scottish Highlands, featuring dog sledding, a visit to an artisan chocolatier and more.