I’ve just spent a week in the majestic Scottish highlands with my family and I am in love with this country, more now than ever before. The drive is simple and easy, one straight road through the Lake District (another section of utter natural beauty) and in to Scotland.
My family and I (pictured below, right) were able to do the 345 miles (555km) in around six hours; with the occasional stop it was easy. You could, however, fly in to one of Scotland’s numerous airports or travel to any local train station.
I got to stay in the beautiful Lyn Leven cottage in Baallyulish near Ben Nevis and Fort William. At this time of year it is around £650 a week and can sleep up to eight people. In the summer months, this price does go up to more than £1000 but I believe it to be well worth it. I have never seen such majestic views on such a consistent basis.
With no real set plan on how we were going to spend our days, we awoke to new and exciting adventures.
One such day was a gondola (cable car) ride up a mountain to a full on blizzard and snowstorm, simply amazing. Everyone was snowboarding, skiing and sledging. It was utterly incredible.
I had some tea and cake in the UK’s highest restaurant and afterwards had a few exhausting and very fast trips down the slopes.Another day was spent on Loch Ness, taking in a boat ride and lunch, all the while keeping a close eye on the water, hunting for the legendary ‘Nessie’ monster!
Nearly every day I would go for a walk, with each one more impressive and astonishing in its surrounds than the last and each with unexpected delights – from twelfth century ruins to 20ft (6m) waterfalls.
Each day had almost every season; within minutes the weather would change from heavy rain to beautifully clear blue skies, then to chunks of snow and back again. The weather kept us on our toes; we never knew what to expect and it certainly provided a great and ever changing backdrop to any activity or photograph.
Scotland is unbelievably historical and untouched. Thousand-year-old ruins lay around all over – just jutting out of the splendid skyline waiting to be discovered and explored. I took delight in wandering around and crawling all over the imposing thirteenth century Inverlochy Castle on the south bank of the River Lochy. Not a soul was in sight and it felt like my own little kingdom.
Built around 1270-1280, it has seen three battles and is truly steeped in history.
Here in Scotland, you feel that you can actually breathe and have room to simply exist. The air around me has never been fresher; the water never as clear; the people never as charming, helpful and friendly and the landscape never as beautiful.
This is a great location for any adventuring soul or family.
Scotland, you have stolen my heart. I will return very soon!
Rik Barnett is a UK & US-based English actor and writer.