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Breathing in the Scottish Highlands

Breathe in, and breathe out.

By: Matthew Clark + Save to a List

One can truly never predict how powerful a trip can be. This was surely the case when my brother and I decided to take a 600 mile road-trip through the Scottish Highlands. This trip came in the midst of a very busy time during both of our lives. He was traveling the world on a Watson Fellowship, studying "historical memory" (how times of hardship within nations can either be forgotten, or remembered, as a source of growth and recovery), while I was tromping around Europe on an extremely tight budget. This trip felt like one massive inhale, followed by an equally large and satisfying, exhale

Our trip began in Edinburgh. From there, we traveled west toward Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. The city quickly, almost surprisingly, turned to countryside and the hills were quickly surrounding the road. 

We hardly expected to have any good weather, as Scotland is usually flooded in cloud during this time of year, but we were gifted with plentiful sunshine and clear horizons which gave us beautiful views of the mountains. We drove along Loch Lomond while bringing in a bit of cliché by listening to Scottish folk tunes. The sunset over Loch Lomond was a sight I could hardly have predicted or even imagined in my mind before we began our trip...

Inhale... Exhale.

We stayed at small cabin-like bed and breakfast's where we met charming Scots. One host sat us down in the breakfast room, without saying a word, and pressed play on a 1980's looking boombox that played Scottish flute songs, and walked away, much to our amusement. The well made breakfast complimented the comedic setting. 

We traveled further north to our next stop - The Lost Valley. 

Inhale... exhale. 

For centuries, this hidden valley among towering mountains was used by thieves to hide stolen cattle from farmers in the surrounding area. Much to our content, we were the only visitors there that day. The silence was almost overwhelming, especially being surrounded by gargantuan mountains.

We continued to travel past a long list of Lochs (lakes) as we made our rounds throughout the Highlands on our way back down to the city of Edinburgh.

Scotland's beauty hit me by surprise. I always knew that it was a lovely country with plenty of scenery, but seeing it for yourself certainly has the ability to trump what you attempt to predict in your imagination prior to your arrival. As we visited various historical monuments, such as the castle above (where many wealthy Scottish folk would hide from Viking invasions centuries ago), or the Glenfinnan Monument (which portrays an important location during the Jacobite Rebellion), we steeped deeper and deeper into our long breath of the Scottish highlands. 

If you ever get the opportunity to travel throughout the highlands, I highly recommend you take advantage of it. I certainly came back from this trip amazed, and with a great sense of fulfillment. Feel free to reach out to me, Matthew Clark, if you want to know more details of our trip and how you can follow our path. I hope this finds you well.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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