“Time and tide for nae man bride.” – Scottish proverb
There is a mystery to the Scottish Highlands, and I have been chasing this mystery my whole life. Maybe there are people out there who will understand. I loved „Braveheart“ since I was nine, and started hunting the wonders since, still loving „Merida“ as a grown woman because it was resounding inside my heart. I’ve been to the Highlands once for two days, shooting my short film „Prometheus Rising“ there. But now it was time to embark on a slightly longer journey to the land of mysteries, me and three friends. The journey was too short, I can tell you this from the beginning. But it is worth the read or at least – the watch. Go ahead and after that – you will want to discover this country of magic for yourself!
Starting point: Edinburgh. Classic. A city worth your every second. We started with a stroll along the famous Royal Mile, and this alone is enough to breathe in the flair that surrounds you: a mixture of countless tourists, medieval fascination, and kilts literally everywhere. Here, you pass by St. Giles Cathedral, directly opposite Mary King’s Close which invites you to immerse into an interesting part of history and life.
The Palace of Holyrood House, at the very end of the Royal Mile, is worth a glance. No pictures inside allowed, unfortunately. Take the free audio guide with you!
By the end of the first day, we climbed Calton Hill. From here, a remarkable view over the whole city stretches out before the eyes of those who conquer it. A view that was hard to enjoy for long, as hunger started swallowing our stomachs from the inside. The solution: Holyrood 9A. The best burger I’ve ever eaten, paired with the fantastic atmosphere of a Scottish pub.
Next stop: two castles.
Edinburgh Castle that impresses with its rich exhibits of war with its many faces and tools, as well as a stunning view over Edinburgh.
The view from Stirling Castle is in no way inferior, but in our opinion not worth the stop after Edinburgh Castle.
The Highlands greeted us with all their might and mystery. Each mile, we were not sure whether to drive or to stop and breathe in the wildness the mountains, rivers, lochs, and valleys are offering so freely. No wonder these places were so full of tales and magical creatures. One cannot help but let the soul float along while it rests in awe of those landscapes that are unlike anything.
This night, we stayed at Glencoe, a place where famous movies like Braveheart or James Bond were shot. There is nothing here though, but those mountains and valleys, and they pull you in with a might where departure becomes even hurtful – like a piece of your heart torn away from a place where it feels it had always belonged.
But the next adventure is already calling around the corner: Canyoning in Fort William. You make your way down a waterfall by climbing, grinding and jumping into ice cold water. Nothing short of a shock, but we recovered quickly and moved on as this activity was like nothing we experienced yet. The first leap is difficult – jumping under a waterfall without seeing where you’ll land.
The Glenfinnan viaduct with its steam train (also known as Harry Potter train) was not everything we discovered on the „Way to the Islands“. It harbors hidden treasures far from touristic viewpoints, like the mystical „tree islands“ in the lochs, old churches, monuments.
On the ferry from Mallaig to Armadale, do not stay inside the car. On the windy deck, we got a stunning view over the waters, even a sailing boat dared to show.
Learn from our mistakes, and plan several more days on the Isle of Skye. The sun was shining as we arrived, but became a rainstorm the day after – a day we had planned for hikes. We only managed to catch a glimpse of Kilt Rock which gave us only a taste of the magical Island.
Leaving with saddened hearts over Skye Bridge the next day, we made our way across the Highlands again, past Eileen Donan Castle, Inverness, Cairngorms National Park, and stopped for a night in Malmaison Aberdeen, a gorgeous hotel in an excellent town. On our last day, we passed by Dunnotar Castle before going back to Edinburgh airport. The entrance to the Castle was closed due to high winds, but the view and the cliffs at its foot are still worth a visit.
I left my heart in the Scottish Highlands on this journey. Those mountains, valleys, and lochs invite you to be part of a mystery far beyond yourself, they invite your soul to rest in the beauty but simultaneously to discover. As for me, they captured my heart and stole a part of it – a reason to always return to these places.