Hidden Gems in the Scottish Highlands

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The Scottish Highlands offer some of the most spectacular views and experiences within the U.K.  It’s the perfect destination for those in search of adventure and wilderness.

Amongst the more famous sights including Loch Ness, the Fairy Glenn and Ben Nevis there are some hidden gems to discover.  These destinations will take you off the beaten path and into some of the most impressive surroundings Scotland has to offer.

Steall Falls

This walk has it all and takes you to the second highest waterfall in Scotland.  Starting off under the shade of the forest you start a steady climb through the Glen Nevis gorge.  After a while you’ll cross a number of small waterfalls and, leaving the forest behind, amazing views of the gorge open up with the River Nevis running far below.

The most awe-inspiring view comes as the valley starts to plateau and you enter a meadow of wildflowers.  In the distance you’ll see, and hear, Steall Falls.

To reach to Falls you must cross the river using a rope bridge.  This is both fun and challenging as the river flows fast beneath you.  Crossing the river is absolutely worth it when you feel the roar of the falls.

The terrain of this walk requires good footwear as the paths can be steep at times.  The gorge is quite protected from the elements so this is a good walk if it’s raining.

I came across this walk by accident and it felt like uncovering hidden treasure!

Inshriach House

Photo credit: Cat Ainsworth

Aviemore, nestled in the Cairngorm National Park, draws adventurers all year round.  It’s the perfect place to base yourself for a few days to explore the area whether you’re into skiing, mountain biking, kayaking or hiking.

For a memorable camp in style at Inshriach House.  Here there are four unique off-grid spaces which have been carefully restored and designed to stay in.  You can choose to stay in either a Shepherds Hut, a Yurt, a restored Fire Service lorry or a Bothy with a modernist twist.  There’s also a sauna (in a horse trailer) and you can jump in the lake to cool down and wash.

Inshriach has recently started distilling it’s own gin and there’s a small quirky bar on site. Inshriach house has all the ingredients for a once in a lifetime experience.

Sandwood Bay

Sandwood bay is spectacular.  This beach can be found in the far north west of the Highland.  It is remote and quite literally off a beaten path.  The bay can only be accessed on foot, via a 4km walk through relatively flat terrain rich with wildlife.

If the weather is good an overnight stay is the best way to enjoy this beach taking advantage of the wild camping laws in Scotland.

Once you have trekked to the bay you are rewarded with a long beach of white sand and the sounds of the North Atlantic crashing onto the shore.  Rolling sand dunes are a great place to pitch up your tent.  At high tide the sea fills a nearby loch, the perfect place for a swim.

Despite the popularity of this beach it’s common to be the only ones enjoying an overnight stay so you can enjoy the beauty and tranquility in peace.  The walk to the beach is accessed at Blairmore.  Here there is a carpark and small hut which offers teas, coffees and home baked cakes during the summer.


Photo credit: Stu Smith

Experience the magical village on Findhorn, a short drive east of Inverness.  A visit to the long rugged beach is a must.  The difference between low and high tide is extreme so the beach is completely transformed every day.

The River Findhorn flows through the harbour and out into the Moray Firth.  Through the channel which flows out into the sea it’s common to see seals and sightings of minke whales are an annual occurrence in this area.

Visit the Kimberley Inn for fresh seafood and a hearty meal.  The Findhorn Foundation, a large eco-village, is a short walk from the Kimberley.  This is a friendly and welcoming community.  The tour of the community is well worth it to see the amazing architecture on site.

The Boots Bar – Clachaig Inn

Photo credit: Clachaig Inn, Glencoe

Clachaig Inn is situated in the mountainous area of Glencoe.  It’s an idea location to relax in after a long day in the outdoors.  The area is renowned for great walking, popular peaks to climb include Ben Nevis and The Sisters of Glencoe.

Claichaig Inn has a number of different areas, if you’re in search of a good time head to the Boots Bar.  The bar feels like a mirage in the middle of the wilderness.  A huge log fire keeps visitors warm and the bar is very well stocked so you can sample Scottish ales and whisky.  Regular live music sessions add to the lively atmosphere.

There’s a campsite a ten minute walk from the pub so you can roll back to your tent after a lively night!

Feature image: Scottish Highlands. Photo credit – Henry Hemming

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Catherine Ainsworth

Cat Ainsworth was born to be in the mountains and is most comfortable on a pair of skis. She has travelled extensively as a humanitarian worker and is currently living in the Scottish Highlands. Cat is always keen to find the next adventure and is most often accompanied by her husband and Ziggy the fox red Labrador.


One thought on “Hidden Gems in the Scottish Highlands

  1. This is one of the nicest whiskys have had. Dangerously drinkable! I hosted a whisky eve and so purchased this to provide a lighter example for my guests. Not a drop was left. Beautifully fruity and deliciously smooth. Shame it only comes in 50cl.

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