MESSAGE: Scottish Highlands *Videos*

The Highlands is both a geographical term, depicting the area north and west of the Highland Boundary Fault, and a cultural distinction that distinguishes the northern “place of the Gaels” where Scottish Gaelic is spoken, from the rest of Scotland, where Lowlands Scots is spoken.

The Highlands are one of the most sparsely populated areas of all of Europe. It is a very rocky, rough terrain dominated by mountains, including Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles.

While in Scotland, I spent the majority of my time in the Highlands, both in Inverness and the Isle of Skye, which is part of the Inner Hebrides and where my ancestors came from.

Here’re my 7 tips on how to enjoy the Scottish Highlands:

MEET (Cool Meet Ups) – Near a Piper. If you’re in Scotland, you’re pretty in the vicinity of a piper – which is exactly where you want to be!

I came across this lone piper on the Skye coastline. Just listen to the traditional music:

Can’t see the video? Click on this link: Skye Piper

EAT (Tasty Eats) – Cullen Skink. Now, the name isn’t so very appetizing, but this fish soup from is a Scottish favorite. Made of smoked haddock, potatoes and onions it will warm you right up!

Hungary? You can watch Ms. Elaine and learn to make Cullen Skink

SEE (Must-see Sights) – Nessie! (Or not see…) The famous Loch Ness is freshwater lake that holds more water than all the other lakes in England, Scotland and Wales put together. The water’s visibility is especially low due to a high peat content in the surround hills, which makes finding Nessie, the Loch Ness monster, that much more difficult.

It didn’t stop me from trying though. Here I am, searching for Nellie, aka Nessie:

Can’t see the video? Click on this link: Erin Looks for Nellie

Want to look for Nessie too? Check out this cool Nessie Live Web Cam

SHOP (Gotta Have) – Tartan! Tartan, wool that is woven with distinctive horizontal and vertical bands, is a large part of Gaelic culture, especially when used to make kilts – the national dress of Scotland.

Interestingly, it wasn’t until the md-19th century that individual tartans became associated with specific Scottish clans. Of course, I had to have a wee bit of tartan to represent the MacLeod Clan so I bought a little-bitty bow to pin on my hat. That bow cost me $12 –yikes!

Interested in looking up your family’s tartan pattern? Here’s a tartan registry to help you!

ACTIVITY (Gotta Do) – Climbing the Quirang. The Quiraing is a beautiful landscape of jagged mountain peaks that was created by land slips. Here’s a quick peek at the Quiraing and one of its more famous plateaus called The Table. In the video I describe The Table’s tradition on New year’s Day:

Can’t see the video? Click on this link: Skye Quirang

GIVE (Greatest Need) – Supporting Crofters. Crofting is a system of small-scale agriculture that is unique to the Highlands. The government granted land to crofters as an incentive for them to stay in the Highlands and allows them to pass down the land between generations. Crofters are given several ha of arable land, as well as access to communal grazing land.

Today there are about 17,000 crofts and about 10% of the Highland’s population (and as much as 65% of Skye residents) is a member of a crofting family. In addition to small-scale food production, most crofters have several hundred sheep and / or about 10-20 cattle. Most can’t support themselves through crofting and must maintain other employment as well.

I got to meet a local woman who was a crofter and talk to her for a while. It seems to be a very hard way of life.

ENJOY (Extra Fun) – Climbing the Black Cuillin. The Black Cuillin is a group of mountains over 3,000 feet. Made from lava, erosion over the centuries has formed a dramatic landscape of dark formidable peaks. To transverse the range will take you at least 15-20 hours. Care to try?

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 25th, 2012 and is filed under Europe, Messages by Country.

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