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The Rough Guide to Scottish Highlands & Islands (Rough Guide Travel Guides) Paperback – 2 Jun 2008
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About the Author
Donald Reid is an Edingurgh resident and has written the Rough Guide to his home town as well as titles to Scotland and South Africa. Rob Humphreys has been writing for Rough Guides since 1989, He is author of Rough Guides to Scotland, London, Prague, Czech & Slovak Republics and St Petersburg.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Where to go Most visitors come to the Highlands and Islands through the gateway of the Central Belt of Scotland, dominated by the major cities of Glasgow in the west and Edinburgh in the east. The majority of routes into the region connect with these centres at some point, or with those strung along the edge of the Highland fault - Stirling, Perth, Dundee and Aberdeen. None are far from the Highlands: from Glasgow, for example, you can be by the banks of Loch Lomond in less than thirty minutes.
West of Glasgow, a rich mix of mountains and sea can be found in Argyll, the most southwesterly part of the region. Gathered around the long sea-lochs of the Firth of Clyde and the zigzag coastline from the Mull of Kintyre up to the busy port of Oban, Argyll includes a number of Scotland's most accessible islands, including craggy Arran in the Firth of Clyde, Islay, famous for its peaty single malt whiskies and its huge wintering population of geese, and Mull, with its moody volcanic mountains and intriguing off-lying islands, including the spiritual haven of Iona and the geological wonders of Staffa.
East of Argyll, in the heart of Scotland, are the Central Highlands, stretching from the first rise of hills north of the Highland Fault to the Great Glen. Here, in the nineteenth century, the Trossachs' forested slopes and sparkling lochs inspired some of the world's first mass tourism, while Deeside was made famous by Queen Victoria's attachment to its wild beauty. To the north of the region is the huge Cairngorm massif, which has many of Scotland's highest peaks and the Highland's best-organized array of outdoor activities, plus Speyside, a region synonymous with two icons of Scottish leisure: whisky and salmon-fishing.
Cutting a dramatic southwest-northeast swath through northern Scotland is the Great Glen, a string of lochs interlinked by the Caledonian Canal, with the Highlands' two major towns of Fort William and Inverness at either end. Though of limited appeal in their own right, both are useful bases for exploring the Glen, which includes two of Scotland's best-known (if slightly disappointing) sights: Loch Ness, speculative home of the eponymous monster; and Ben Nevis, the very highest of the Highland peaks. You don't have to look hard to find evidence of the thickly layered history of the region: near Inverness is the battlesite of Culloden, where Bonnie Prince Charlie's Jacobite rebellion ended in 1746; on the shores of Loch Ness is Urquhart Castle, one of the most dramatic ruins in the Highlands; and south of Fort William is the beautiful Glen Coe, poignant scene of an infamous seventeenth-century clan massacre.
The Great Glen sees the largest concentration of visitors to the Highlands and Islands, but many also take in the island of Skye - effortlessly reached by a controversial bridge but also, more romantically, by ferry from Mallaig or Glenelg. A deeply indented coastline, dark sea-lochs and the towering Cullin peaks make for some of the west coast's fiercest scenery, good for touring, walking and mountaineering. Beyond Skye, across a body of water known as the Minch, lie the Outer Hebrides or Western Isles, a string of islands forming a barrier between the mainland and the North Atlantic. The largest and most populated of this Gaelic-speaking archipelago is the dual island of Lewis and Harris, where you'll the prehistoric standing stones at Calanais (Callanish), a sight to rival England's Stonehenge. To the south lies the "Long Island" of the Uists, Benbecula and Barra, fringed by an almost uninterrupted series of golden beaches.
Back on the mainland, the wildest and remotest parts of the country are found in the north and northwest Highlands, which include three very different coastlines and a memorable array of landscapes. Along the west coast, the mountain ranges of Torridon and Assynt are most popular with walkers, while the stunning coastal scenery of Wester Ross and its lively main town, Ullapool, make this one of the Highlands' most celebrated corners. The stormy north coast, from Cape Wrath to John O'Groats, harbours a poignant history of villages forcibly cleared in the nineteenth century, as well as the ecological treasure of the flat, boggy Flow Country. The east coast, from the Black Isle immediately north of Inverness to the town of Wick, is often passed over, but offers a rich heritage, including prehistoric remains and memories of fast-disappearing fishing communities.
From Thurso and John O'Groats, boats leave for the cluster of islands that make up the Orkney Islands. By far the most picturesque town here is the port of Stromness, the main point of arrival for those coming by boat, while the capital, Kirkwall, boasts a magnificent medieval cathedral. Further north, now two hundred miles from Aberdeen, are the Shetland Islands, where the bustling and historic harbour at Lerwick shelters craft from every corner of the North Atlantic. Orkney and Shetland, both with a rich Norse heritage, differ not only from each other but are also quite distinct from other islands and the Highlands in both dialect and culture. Far-flung and weather-buffeted, they offer some of the country's wildest scenery, finest birdwatching and stunning archeological remains. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Bear in mind however that this most recent edition of the book which I have actually consists of the sections on the Highlands and Islands excerpted from the larger Rough Guide to Scotland. To the best of my knowledge (and I did compare them closely when I got the books out from my local library) this book contains no new or extra info.
So if you are going to places other than just the Highlands and Islands, you probably want the one-volume edition. You'll get everything on offer here and more. Otherwise, if you're heading just to the H and I's then this slimmer volume still comes warmly recommended by me.
You pays your money and you takes your choice.
We have used the Rough Guides before on trips to the Greek Islands and appreciate the variety of information available. This book is useful for pre planning your trip to the Highlands & Islands but is also indispensable on a daily basis also.
It really opens up the wide variety of interesting places on Skye and the Highlands while giving you essential travel information and useful reviews on where to eat and places to visit. Once again the Rough Guide series has proved itself the most reliable and consistent guide book for the traveller, whether he be hiking or staying at he best hotels - there is something for everyone in the usual clear and concise manner. If your are looking for one book - buy this one !!
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A good value purchase.
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