The Scottish Highlands -

Who Said What about the Scots Ancestral Homeland?


Low in heart and low in pocket,
Come at once to Drumnadrochit.
Sick of snobs, and tired of swells,
Sojourn at these pleasant “Wells”
Better door you cannot knock at
Than the one at Drumnadrochit. 
Pleasant rooms and restful beds,
Pillows soft for heavy heads,
Warmest welcome meets you there,
Best of drink and best of fare;
Garden humming round with bees,
Seats where you may rest at ease.
Mignonette and purple rocket,
Scent the air at Drumnadrochit.
If for shooting you’re inclined,
Load your gun, but do not cock it,
And then off to Drumnadrochit.
If for angling you’ve a mind, 
Screw your trout-rod in its socket,
And then, ho for Drumnadrochit 
No one wonders what o’clock it
Ever is at Drumnadrochit.
Pleasant place!—may no one knock it!
But my song is getting long;
And I think I’d better dock it.

— Frank Leslie, editor of The Belfast News 

The Highlands live up to their own billing, in a way which most tourist landscape rarely do...Here in the Highlands...the scenery is obsessive, monomaniacal...It never stops being Highland: it finds ways to do the same majestic, brutal things over and over again...And if you find yourself lost on a mountaintop in bad weather, there will be no bolt-hole cottage; no hamlet to escape to. You will probably die." ——- FAINTHEART: An Englishman Ventures North of the Border by Charles Jennings, Abacus, Time Warner Books U.K.,; ©2001 by Charles Jennings ISBN 0349114404

...the true Highlands of Scotland...that region where common sense no longer prevails and the Celtic imagination is all. ——SCOTLAND: THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE, © Donald Cowie, 1973 by A.S. Barnes and Company, Cranbury, NJ and London: Thomas Yoseloff Ltd., London ISBN 0-498-01169-0

It is strange, indeed, how these Highlands have fascinated the literary imagination of the world. One would think that all Scotland was a huge hill, on which maidens with flowing locks and bare feet, but withal of wondrous beauty, were continually being courted by tartaned youths of great strength and dauntless bravery. ——Picturesque Scotland; its romantic scenes and historical associations described in lay and legend, song and story, © Francis Watt 1849-1927

Rannoch, Breadalbane, Amulree and Taymouth were all cleared before the middle of the nineteenth century. The population halved between 1800 and 1850, with the displaced population reluctantly going to seek work in the cities or abroad. The long strath of Glen Tilt, near Blair Atholl was virtually emptied to create a pleasure park for the Duke of Atholl. ——- HIGHLAND CLEARANCES TRAIL: A Guide Compiled by Rob Gibson. Highland Heritage Books, ©1996.


Much of Highland scenery partakes of this dark, gloomy, melancholy aspect; perhaps, during the greater part of the year, all of it is like this. The natural tendency of it is to produce a melancholy cast of thought. The dark shadows that lie on the hillside sink into the minds of the people. And what race is so susceptible to natural influences as the Celt?…Place his stock in the " pleasant land of France," amidst sunshine and fertile fields and "hills that bear the vine," and you have a careless, light-hearted, almost insolently and defiantly gay people. Place it in the Highlands, amidst barren hills, and mists and rain and cold, and you have a melancholy, brooding race….It has been said, indeed, that the Highlanders are insensible to the beauty of Highland scenery, and this is no doubt partially true. But it only-means that the associations of toil and struggle, and want and cold are so intimately connected with their mountains, that they fail to apprehend the pictu-resqueness of the scenery amidst which they live. ——- Picturesque Scotland; its romantic scenes and historical associations described in lay and legend, song and story, ©Francis Watt 1849- 1927

Now and then we passed through winding valleys speckled with farms that looked romantic and pretty from a distance, but bleak and comfortless up close. Mostly they were small holdings with lots of rusted tin everywhere—tin sheds, tin hen huts, tin fences—looking rickety and weather battered. We were entering one of those weird zones, always a sign of remoteness from the known world, where nothing is ever thrown away. Every farmyard was cluttered with piles of castoffs, as if the owner thought that one day he might need 132 half-rotted fenceposts, a ton of broken bricks, and the shell of a 1964 Ford Zodiac.
— NOTES FROM A SMALL ISLAND, An Affectionate Portrait of Britain by BILL BRYSON, William Morrow and Company, Inc. New York, ©1995 by Bill Bryson, ISBN 0-688-14725-9
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Let no man imagine that he understand the true nature of patience, till he has made a Highland tour, on Highland ponies and in Highland boats. —— The Highlands And Western Isles Of Scotland, Containing Descriptions Of Their Scenery And Antiquities, with an account of the Political History And Ancient Manners, and of the Origin, Language, Agriculture, Economy, Music, Present Condition Of The People, &c. &c. &c.Founded on a Series Of Annual Journeys Between The Years 1811 And 1821, And Forming A Universal Guide To That Country, In Letters To SIR WALTER SCOTT, BARD. By John Macculloch, M.D., F.R.S. , L.S. ,G.S. &c. &c. &c.

The Great Glen, Strathspey and Lochaber witnessed some of the worst examples of the old clan chiefs, turned rapacious landlords, clearing out and selling their vast lands to outsiders. The MacDonnells of Glengarry, the Chisholms, the MacGillivrays, the Camerons etc. disposed of their 'surplus' population with as much social conscience as exiled bankrupts ever show...vast areas of this part of Scotland are now virtually empty of people, man-made wildernesses. —— HIGHLAND CLEARANCES TRAIL: A Guide Compiled by Rob Gibson. Highland Heritage Books, © 1996.

The Highlands are every Scotsman's Zion, from which he draws his spiritual inspiration and to which, given half a chance, his soul will return. The Highlands are not just every Scot's homeland, but an elaborate Scottish-Anglo-Windsor-Teutonic construction. Which may help to explain why - however incredibly beautiful they are -they refuse to make much sense, when viewed by a suburban Londoner stuck at the edge of the known world. —— FAINTHEART: An Englishman Ventures North of the Border ©Charles Jennings, Abacus, Time Warner Books U.K.


The hot sulphur springs and iron springs which are found in this area are thought to be used by the Devil. In places, these two waters mingle as they flow, and wherever they do so, they run black. This, people say, is where the Devil constantly washes himself and his black clothes. —— SCOTLAND Myths and Legends, by Beryl Beare, ©Parragon. London 1996, ISBN 0-94778-294-x


With its 17-feet per annum rainfall, "Torridon doesn't sound like anything, much - maybe a board game, or a muscle rub, in much the same way that Inverinate, on the Inverness-Kyle road, sounds like a treatment for a kidney infection..." ——- FAINTHEART: An Englishman Ventures North of the Border by ©Charles Jennings, Abacus, Time Warner Books U.K

There is something alike terrifying and melancholy, in the snow-poles, which lift their bleached bones at intervals, to the winds and rains of this wild region; reminding us of winter and death and abandonement, and of the figure of our own bones would soon make, under the event against which they stand a warning and a speaking lesson. —— THE HIGHLANDS AND WESTERN ISLES OF SCOTLAND, © John MacCulloch

You can't go more than three miles without hitting a roadside Highland craft shop tricked out in an avalanche of warring tartans, plus thick-knit sweaters, tam-o'-shanters, whiskey miniatures, bits of emblazoned chocolate; notices in five languages entreating you to enter. ——- FAINTHEART: An Englishman Ventures North of the Border by Charles Jennings,Abacus, Time Warner Books U.K.,; © 2001 by Charles Jennings ISBN 0 349 11440 4