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The northern most part of the Scottish mainland holds some of the country's most spectacular scenery, classic combinations of rocky mountains, remote glens, dark lochs and tumbling rivers. The inspiring landscape, the tranquillity and space that it offers are without doubt the main attractions, yet you may still be surprised at how remote much of it is. Steeped in history there are many reminders of the Picts, Norsemen and mighty clans that once ruled the country.
The West Highlands are home to the highest mountain in Britain, Ben Nevis and glens that feature in the dark history of Scotland. From the towering cliffs of Glen Coe, the wilds of Knoydart and the stunning white sand beaches of Morar, the west offers some of the most varied places to explore. With sea lochs extending far inland giving a fjord like feel, the west offers an incredible contrast of mountain and water landscapes.
Where the west is rugged, the east of Scotland offers something a little more subtle but no less grand. The Cairngorms are certainly one of the jewels of Scotland's magnificent landscapes. With its high artic plateau and sculptured corries, the evidence of Scotland's glaciated past is always evident. The great rivers of the Spey and the Dee drain from these vast upland areas. With remains of the ancient Caledonian forests, the wonderful colours of the Perthshire hills and the malts of the Spey valley, the east has plenty to whet the appetite.
Far up towards the Arctic Circle lie Orkney and Shetland, made up of over 230 islands. With their distinctive geography, history and culture, they differ not only from mainland Scotland but also from each other. The sea has sculpted and shaped the life of these stunning islands. The dramatic coastal scenery of secluded bays, sea stacks and towering cliffs are home to an incredible array of bird life. With their famed archaeological sites such as the Ring of Brodgar and the Stone Age village of Skara Brae, these islands offer a real sense of history and invite exploration.
The chain of islands that make up the Outer Hebrides stretches for 200 kilometres down Scotland's western seaboard, fringed by dazzling beaches, lapped by turquoise waters and backed by rising rocky hills. It is an archipelago that will leave you wondering if you really are still in Scotland. From the standing stones of Callanish to the sheer cliffs of St Kilda the islands have a rich cultural identity and history. With an incredible array of flora that covers the celebrated machair, sea eagles, seals and otters that patrol the coastlines these islands offer some of the most alluring scenery in the world.
Skye is famed for its spectacular mountain ranges and mystical island ambience. The Cuillin are undoubtedly Britain's most spectacular mountain range. However, the island boasts more than just high mountains. It has complex geology and variety of its scenery offers plenty of opportunities for easier low level coastal walks.
The Small Isles of Eigg, Muck and Rum are peaceful, wild and unspoilt. Their distinctive profile can be viewed from the white sands of Morar and is undoubtedly one of the finest views in Scotland. They are rich in birdlife which includes the world's largest colony of Manx Shearwaters and large numbers of guillemots, razorbills and several pairs of golden eagles.
These two inner Hebridean Islands couldn't offer a greater contrast of landscapes. Jura gives a real sense of remoteness and exploration, with the quartzite peaks of the Paps of Jura a magnet for the hill walker and the Corryvrekan whirlpool a major draw.
Islay in contrast is fertile and was once the principle island in the Hebrides although now it is more famed for its malt whisky production with numerous distilleries across the island. It is incredibly rich in bird life with over 180 recorded species and over a 100 breeding. Its dramatic coastline ravaged by the pounding of the Atlantic Ocean offers stunning coastal walking.
There are few wild, unspoilt and least explored corners of Europe than the Faroes. This far-flung group of 18 islands lies in the middle of the North Atlantic, halfway between Scotland and Iceland. The ocean dominates the Faroese landscape with its 700 miles of coastline. At no time are you more than three miles from the sea. Sheer black cliffs and sea stacks, rugged mountains and fjords contrast with picturesque villages of colourful houses and hay fields.