Hiking through Scotland, you can't help but feel its storied past around every corner. In a place where each vista has the power to still the heart, the remnants of a forgotten time persist. At any given moment you may discover the crumbling remains of a castle that speaks to the power of those long gone, or the decaying shell of a remote homestead that illustrates the harsh life its previous inhabitants experienced. It's a land of shifting light across verdant glens and ancient mountains. Geographically as far north as parts of Scandinavia, this windswept and weather-beaten landscape has tested the resiliency of the Scottish people for eons.
A hiking trip to the Scottish Highlands highlights the power of elemental forces. The landscape resembles that of an intricate geological puzzle that plays host to mountains and glens shaped over millennia by wind and water. Much of the ancient forests of the land were harvested to build and maintain powerful clans, leaving a hauntingly beautiful, wide open countryside for miles in every direction. For the wayfarer visiting this land today, it's possible to discover enormous panoramas and intense silence interrupted only by the wind howling across expansive valley floors. This emptiness, only a half day's train ride from London, is a priceless respite rarely found in Western Europe today. Regular rain fuels falls, rivers and lochs, all of which yearn to find their way back to the rugged ocean coast that border the country on three sides.
It's the very nature of this tough outside world that led to the perfection of inside spaces. Cozy fireside hearths and great parlor rooms offer the perfect respite after a day of hiking. There may be no greater post-trek experience than to warm your toes by a crackling fire while enjoying tea and scones with homemade jam, though some prefer a wee dram of whisky.
There's never been a more intriguing time to travel to Scotland. While the countryside appears timeless, cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh teem with modernity and cultural blending reflective of the present day. And although the country isn't exactly known for their cuisine, it's easy to find surprisingly diverse and delicious dining experiences here, with influences from around the world. It's the abundance of Middle Eastern and Indian flavors here that excites me most! The Backroads Scotland Walking & Hiking tour offers travelers an opportunity to discover the nuances of a country that's been evolving since its first inhabitants set foot here 12,000 years ago. As you walk on centuries-old paths, travel on the famous Jacobite Train (Hogwarts Express for you Harry Potter fans!) and spy wildlife along the coast of the Isle of Skye, the majesty of this stunning land will inevitably take hold. When it does, those tranquil evenings with new friends spent in famous castles and historic hunting lodges will make for an unforgettable holiday experience.