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Islay Ss737975776 Rebecca Schochenmaier 72

North Coast 500


Best of Scotland's Highlands & Islands


Close Encounters of the Bird Kind

1 Islay’s distilleries

The Isle of Islay is famous the world over for its distinctive single malt whiskies and after a visit here to sample the peaty delights of its eight distilleries you’ll soon be planning to turn a single into a return trip.

2 Corryvreckan

The world’s second largest whirlpool, between the islands of Jura and Scarba, is officially unnavigable but intrepid visitors can take a white-knuckle RIB ride across its crashing waters while looking out for porpoises, seals and other wildlife.

3 Lairig Ghru

Take on the challenge of this famous long-distance trail that runs for 25 miles from Aviemore over the spectacular Lairig Ghru Pass to the welcoming sight of Braemar, nestled in Royal Deeside.

4 Glen Coe

Haunting and dramatic Glen Coe is one of Scotland’s most evocative places, with a blood-soaked history that is made all the more poignant by the jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery all around

5 West Highland Railway

All aboard the West Highland Railway! This 164-mile trip runs from Glasgow to Mallaig and is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s great rail journeys.

6 Bealach na Ba

The 'pass of the cattle' on the Applecross peninsula is one of the highest roads that can be negotiated in the UK and the views from the top are out of this world, as is the seafood on offer at the wonderful Applecross Inn.

7 Sandwood Bay

The Northwest coast can boast many fine beaches but this one is very special indeed. Come here with a loved one – and a bottle of your favourite single malt – and watch the sun set in splendid isolation.

8 Calanais

Uncover the mystery of these 5000-year-old standing stones. No fences, security guards or hordes of tourists to deal with here; just you, the stones and an ethereal quiet and stillness.

9 Barra

Wee Barra has it all: beaches, machair, peat-covered hills, tiny crofting communities and Neolithic remains. ‘Barradise’ indeed, and if you fly in, there’s the added thrill of landing on the world’s only beach runway.

10 St Kilda

Voyage across perilous seas to the mysterious haunted islands of St Kilda. Spectacular and isolated, and home to the largest colony of seabirds in Europe, these islands capture the imagination in a way that few other places do.

11 Skara Brae

Be blown away at the best-preserved Stone Age village in northern Europe. Set amongst the dazzling white sands of the Bay of Skaill and battered by ferocious and relentless Atlantic gales, it’s hard to imagine humans living here 5000 years ago.

12 Hermaness National Nature Reserve

Explore the 2422 acres of dramatic coastal landscape and wild moorland of this remote Shetland outpost. Home to more than 100,000 nesting seabirds, including gannets, puffins and great skuas, this is a place that feels like the very edge of the world.

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