Four Highland Seasons – never a dull moment

One of the many things that Di and I love about living here are the distinct four Highland seasons that we get here and the amazing variety of conditions and experiences that this brings.

Here’s a brief snapshot, showing a variety of images I have taken in The Highlands, from Spring through to Winter, showing all Four Highland Seasons:

Four Highland Seasons

A quick snapshot of some of our favourite views and images from the Four Highland Seasons

You can view more of these seasonal Highland images in the gallery below. And below that is a month by month itinerary of some of the amazing cultural, visual and photography-related events that are on offer year-round. 

As I write this now at the end of May, we have enjoyed fantastic weather this month, with amazing displays of gorse and bluebells, superb sunrises and sunsets, an array of wildlife, including newborn lambs, Ospreys, visiting migratory birds, dolphins – the list goes on. May is the month with the most sunshine in the Highlands. Last weekend, I was racing cruising yachts on the Murray Firth; on Saturday the temperature was nearly 30.

May is the month with the most sunshine in the Highlands, even though July and August are the hottest months. Last weekend, I was racing cruising yachts on the Murray Firth; on Saturday the temperature was nearly 30o centigrade (86oF). On both days, we had dolphins shadowing the boat – I was almost within touching distance! I didn’t take a camera as we were racing, but you can click here: to see my dolphin pictures.

There’s definitely a buzz about the place during the summer ‘peak season’. As this approaches, we are looking forward to festival season here in the Highlands. The festivals are many and varied, representing culture, food, drink, sport, music, history & heritage etc. I have listed many of the festivals and events in the month by month breakdown below.

Great though the summer season is, our favourite times are outside of this season. Here are some of the things that we appreciate outside of peak season:

  • Having the place to ourselves.
    • The Highlands and Islands is one of the most sparsely populated parts of the European Union. See below for more details.
    • Outside of tourist season, from mid-September through to June, it doesn’t take much travel or effort to reach stunning locations which you can enjoy all to yourself. Even during tourist season, unless you are visiting the most popular locations at peak times, it is hardly busy.
    • The Highlands are dominated, geographically by mountains, glens and fjord-like sea lochs. This is what makes them so picturesque. There is little urban development outside of the two main towns of Inverness and Fort William, plus to a lesser extent, the ports of Wick and Invergordon.
  • The Golden Hour. Although the long summer days are great, the quality of light during the summer can be a little harsh and limiting for photography. The quality of light in the so-called ‘Golden Hour’, just after sunrise and before sunset, is often the best and most pleasing to photograph in.
    • Did you know that the Golden Hour lasts longer in winter and last longer here in the Highlands of Scotland ??!!
    • The Golden Hour occurs when the sun is near the horizon. As the sun is lower in the sky in the winter, you get better quality light throughout the day (a softer, warmer light with better, longer shadows) than summertime. Plus, in more northern (or more southern) latitudes, such as the Highlands, the sun circles around the horizon, never getting all that high in the sky. The colours from the sunrise or sunset are last longer as well.
    • Another bonus in the Spring, Autumn and Winter is that you don’t have to get up so early, or stay out so late in order to appreciate the golden hour for photography, as well as stunning sunrises and sunsets. So you can also enjoy a good night’s sleep, or at least some more editing time!
  • Misty spring and autumn mornings. The best time to experience these are when there is a high-pressure weather system over The Highlands, which means relatively clear night skies, cool mornings and little wind. In these conditions, mist will linger in low-lying areas, which means especially great and atmospheric photographic opportunities. These range from dark and moody, to more warm, but no less dramatic shots as the sun is rising and the quality of the light of the ‘golden hour’ meets breathtaking scenes.
  • Broken clouds and intermittent winter sunshine falling on the mountains, glens, firths and lochs. This creates an incredible ambience and magical, more three-dimensional landscape photography opportunities, enhanced by the longer ‘Golden Hour’ effect (see above).
  • Night skies and auroras. If you want to photograph the night sky, then you’ll have to stay up very late during the summer in order for the sky to be dark enough to capture the Milky Way or an Aurora. Whatever the time of year, this is best done with a new moon i.e. a dark sky.
  • Biodiversity – Did you know that Scotland is home to over 90,000 species; its rich and diverse natural history attracts thousands of wildlife-enthusiasts each year. Many of these are best seen outside of the summer months. Some are migratory and simply aren’t here when the majority of the tourists are. Key Highland habitats include: woodland; lochs, rivers and wetlands; coasts and seas; mountains, heaths and bogs; farmland and croftland; urban green spaces and gardens. As the Scottish Wildlife Trust puts it:

From adders and Arctic skua to wildcats and wood anemones, Scotland is home to a huge diversity of wildlife.

The following gallery depicts what we have described above. Below that is a list of the many opportunities to be enjoyed year-round, listed month by month.

What’s On in the Highlands Month by Month?

  • January
    • January is a good time to photograph motorsport in the Highlands, with the Snowman Rally taking place near Inverness.
    • Or, for a different kind of sport, how about the dog sled rally at Glenmore Forest Park, Aviemore – a two-day timed trials held by the Siberian Husky Club of Great Britain? Or watch/photograph the valiant efforts of the riders in the Strathpuffer – 24 hour endurance bike ride?
    • It is a time of frozen lochs and mountains. The snow and ice make great and atmospheric landscapes and indeed macro photography opportunities. A trip up the funicular at Cairngorm Mountain, or the mountain gondola of Aonach Mor, just 7 miles north of Fort William on the Nevis Range is a must do on a clear and windless day.
    • The winter months are also ideal for photographing shy wildlife. Mountain Hare, Ptarmigan, Red Grouse, Snow Bunting and Red Deer tend to drop down the slopes a little, so days up in the glens and mountains can be rewarded with closer views of these normally hard to find species.
    • This year was an unusually good year for seeing the beautiful Waxwings.
    • This is also an ideal time to visit many of the RSPB hides, where rare species of birds are tempted close to the hides by feeders. Some of these rare sightings include: Crested Tits, Goldcrests and Cuckoos.
    • Inverness Music Festival is a competitive music festival open to all ages and abilities. Run by Inverness Festival Association, it takes place over two weeks in late Jan-early Feb. There has been a Music Festival in Inverness since 1922. It stopped during the war years and for a time in the sixties and early seventies but then was started again.
  • February
    • Anytime is a great time to visit the Botanical gardens in Inverness. It is especially great to go in the Winter, to get out of the cold and to enjoy the plant diversity ranging from the tropical rainforests to arid desert. The sensory raised beds and 75 tonnes of rock provide an excellent opportunity to practise macro photography, on the many and varied shapes, textures and flowers, especially the cacti and succulents.
    • The short days and any inclement weather, though great to be out in, also provide the ideal time to practise some indoor photography, be it product-related, macro or portraiture.
    • Of course, trips out are also very much the order of the day.
      • Where better than to visit Highland Wildlife Park at Kingussie in the Cairngorm National Park. A year-round attraction, visiting in February has the added advantage of being able to see and photograph Lapwings (also known as Peewits, for their call) as they arrive at the park for as their breeding ground. Lapwings start their pre-mating rituals with incredible, cork-screw special copulation flights. Other wild birds that can be seen at the wildlife park include Oystercatchers and Barnacle geese.
      • Moray, Beauly and Cromarty Firth(s) all provide a great opportunity to see many varieties of wader, geese, finches and various species of seaduck. These include: Scoter, Eider, Long-tailed Duck, Scaup, Dippers, Curlew, Dunlin, Snipe, Redshanks and Oystercatchers as well as a good supply of Herons. Further inland, on the lochs, you can find Slavonian Grebe and other divers wintering.
  • March
    • March is a great month to enjoy the Highlands. Plenty of snow on the mountains, the weather is warming up, there more sunshine, days are lengthening, snowdrops are blooming. March is one of our favourite times to tour the remotest parts of the Highlands, as there’s nobody around! We’ve enjoyed spectacular trips into the glens, around Skye, over the Applecross pass and in the remote North West Highlands – all during March. Of course, these places are amazing year-round. Watch out for getting stuck behind a campervan on Applecross pass in July/August though!
    • The snowdrops are out in March across the Highlands, adding glory and variety to many a landscape or macro photography opportunity.
    • March and April are the times to see Capercaillie and Black Grouse displaying at their lekking grounds. This can be combined with the opportunity to appreciate mountain hares and Ptarmigan in their winter coats and plumage.
  • April
    • Spring is a time for bird migration into and out of the Highlands. Wintering birds head to their Northern breeding grounds, whilst summer migrants arrive back after wintering in warmer climates.
    • Ospreys arrive at the end of March/early April for their breeding season. They tend to mate for life and return to the same eryie (nest). Check out my Highland Ornithology; Twitching, Raptors and Bird Watching gallery for images of the Ospreys and many other birds you can see and photograph in the Highlands.
    • April is also the time for remembrance of the Battle of Culloden, with the Battle of Culloden memorial service and various other events.
  • May
    • Dolphins, dolphins, dolphins!! Dive, dive, dive, breach, jump, spin, tail-slap. The dolphins in the Moray Firth are great. They are the most northern school of Dolphins (Bottle-nosed) and the largest (with more fat to keep them warm). The dolphins are quite reliably available to watch, from the shore, close up (typically as close as 10 meters) at specific tide times at Chanonry Point from early may through to August. Outside of these time, they are less reliable, although they can be seen at many points along the Moray Firth as well as Aberdeen and on the West Coast (best by boat).
    • May is also the best month to fully appreciate ‘the yellowist of flowers‘. Though it does start to bloom earlier in the year and continues into the summer (when it darkens a little), in May, the sunniest Highland month – it is breathtaking. Did you know that the Scottish word for gorse is ‘whin’?
    • This is also the month of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival. The five day programme features almost 500 events, with exclusive distillery tours, tutored tastings, talks, whisky auctions and fairs, outdoor adventures by foot, canoe or argocat, traditional ceilidhs, fine dining dinners, live music and crafts – and everything in between!
      • Speyside is home to over 50 distilleries – more than half of the distilleries in Scotland!
      • Tickets sales for the 2018 festival will go on sale on Tuesday 6th February 2018 at 12 noon GMT. Many of the events sell out very quickly.
      • Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival makes for a photographers dream. So, each year, they invite all festival-goers to submit photographs for their ‘Festival Moments’ competition.
      • Click here for my photo gallery of Highlands and Islands Distilleries.
    • May is the month of the Nairn Beer & Music Festival, with stalls serving 160+ real ales, ciders and craft beers, 130 single malt whiskys, the opportunity to meet brewers, enjoy the BBQ and live music, even join in a pub quiz, all around the iconic NairnBandstand next to a gorgeuos sandy beach.
    • May and early June are great times a trip to the West coast or further afield to the Inner and Outer Hebrides. Beat the tourists and the midges!
      • Applecross, Ardnamurchan, Ardnish, Knoydart, Shieldaig and Coigach are just some of the many, stunning Peninsulas of the loosely defined Wester Ross region of the West Highlands, separated by sea lochs.
      • Drive to the Isle of Skye, or take a ferry to Raasay, St Kilda, Harris, Lewis or Uist- you won’t be disappointed.
      • Or venture further North and East to Handa Island, Fair Isle, Orkney or Shetland; or South to Mull, Islay and Jura.
      • All of the above offer stunning views, breathtaking remoteness, stunning cliffs and beaches, along the opportunity to view an amazing array of wildlife including: Sea Eagles (White-tailed Eagles), Golden Eagles, many different seabirds, Otters and more Red Deer. Venture further out to and island or on a boat for: Minke Whales, Basking Sharks, Common Dolphins and more seabirds.
    • May also sees the annual Inverness Classic Vehicle Show – affording a different kind of photographic opportunity and a nice day out in Inverness.
  • June
    • June is a great month for enjoying and photographing Orchids in the Highlands.
    • Late May and June is also when the Rhododendrons are in impressive bloom. Introduced to the UK from abroad in the 1700s, Rhododendron was widely planted in gardens, parks and particularly in Victorian hunting estates to provide shelter for game birds. Unfortunately, it spread rapidly and is threatening biodiversity; so there is a  control and eradication programme – part of an EU-wide initiative.
    • Held in Edinburgh, not the Highlands – The Royal Highland Show is Scotland’s annual farming and countryside showcase, organised by the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland. The show has over 1,000 exhibitors, 4,500 head of livestock, and up to 190,000 visitors.
      • Originating in 1822, this Highland Show moved around the towns and cities of Scotland until 1959.
      • During the 1948 show held at Inverness, the ‘Royal’ title was bestowed on the event by King George VI.
    • Late May/June through to September sees the main horse-trials season in The Highlands, starting with Scotsburn (late May), Burgie (June), Forgandenny (July), Blaire (August), then Wee Burgie and Aswanly (Sept). These provide a great day out and the opportunity for some landscape and sports photography.
    • June or July sees Truckness coming to town. This Truck Show is staged to celebrate the fantastic contribution made by the men and women working in the Haulage Industry in Inverness and the Scottish Highlands. It also supports the local charity ‘Moray Firth Cash for Kids’. The event also features vintage cars, live music, children’s entertainment, fun fair, local craft makers and exhibitors and much much more. Truckness provides a great opportunity to practise your street photography.
    • Now to another mode of transport. Technically not the Highlands, but still on our patch is Portsoy Boat Festival in Speyside.  Portsoy is one of the locations for the recent remake of the 1949 film Whisky Galore. The beautiful 17th century harbour is the heart of the festival – a 2-day celebration of the area’s maritime heritage -with boats, music, food and drink, and crafts galore! Portsoy can be part of a gorgeous trip out along the Moray and Speyside cost, taking in the stunning harbours, cliffs, beaches and scenery of: Findhorn, Hopeman, Lossiemouth, Spey Bay, Portgordon, Portknockie, Cullen (famed for Cullen Skink), Portsoy, Whitehills, Banff, Macduff, Gardenstoen, Crobie and Pennan.
      • Pennan and the Pennan Inn are the setting for the famous 1980s film “Local Hero” starring Burt Lancaster.
  • July
    • This is a great month for Dragonflies and Damselflies. These love the pollen available from the multi-coloured fields and hedgerows, coated in daisies, buttercups, poppies and a multitude of other wildflowers.
    • Or how about a trip on the Strathspey Steam Railway from Aviemore to Broomhill, or The Jacobite Steam Train from Fort William to Mallaig?
      • Like a meal with a view? There’s nothing quite like:
        • Fish and chips at Mallaig, or indeed Ullapool on the West Coast.
        • Eating at the top Station at Cairngorm mountain, where the Ptarmigan Restaurant is located with panoramic views from over 3,500ft high.
      • The Strathspey Railway has announced that their oldest engine, Caledonian Railway Engine 828 (built in 1899) will be back in steam for the 2017 season.
      • The Jacobite service runs from the end of April to end of October. Strathspey Railway operates at set times year-round.
    • July sees the Inverness Highland Games. Founded in 1822, it is one of the highlights of any visit to the Highland capital city of Inverness. Click here to read me post on fascinating facts and history of Highland Games. This year (2017), the games finish off with the
      • This year (2017), the games finish off with the Inverness Gala, featuring: Inverness Shinty Sixes, Highland’s Strongest Man and Strongest Women events, a zip slide over the River Ness; a Giant Craft Fair and Highland Games Traders village. In addition, 10,000 people will be in Bught Park to watch a Bryan Adams concert.
    • July 2018 features the unique  ‘Guisachan Gathering‘ in memory of the founding of the Golden Retriever breed at Guisachan House by Lord Tweedmouth. The event will begin on Monday 16th July 2018 and end with a Breed Championship Show at Cannich on Friday 20th July 2018. The previous gathering took place back in 2013.
  • August
    • Around the end of August/beginning of September is the Northern Meeting Piping Competition. Held at the prestigious Eden Court Theatre in Inverness, the competitions has emerged as the pre-eminent and most prestigious piping competition in the world. The event plays a leading role in contributing to Scotland’s unique musical heritage. It attracts pipers from the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Europe and throughout the British Isles. Entry is restricted to those of the highest calibre; competition is intense between 100 competitors taking part ivarioussu events, including the classic piobaireachd, March, Strathspey and Reel and Hornpipes and Jigs.
      • The Northern Meeting was set up in 1798 “for the purpose of promoting a Social Intercourse”; early events featured dinners, balls, concerts, and horse races.
      • In 1849 The Highland Society of London (who had held their own piping competitions from 1781, until they lapsed after 1844) accepted that the Northern Meeting Competitions had become the proper successors to their own competitions.
    • Last August/early September is an ideal time for another visit to Highland Wildlife Park. Specialising in cold weather adapted species, which are seasonal breeders, to maximise the chances of survival, the year’s crop of young are born during late spring to mid-summer. By September, most have been born. In September 2016, there were 54 youngsters running and flying around, from 15 of the species kept at the park. These include: baby snow monkeys; Lynx and Wildcat kittens; Wolf cubs; Przewalski horse foals; European Bison, Elk and several species of deer calves.
    • For animals of a more domestic nature, look no further than the North’s largest event – the Black Isle Show. Now in its 180th year, it takes place just over Kessock Bridge, not far from Inverness in Muir of Ord. New to this year’s event is a tractor-pulling extravaganza, a popular Scottish pastime, plus in keeping with the ‘Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017’ –  a vintage tractor parade and a discovery area where visitors can take a look back and experience agricultural techniques from through the ages. Each day has a different theme, one of which includes 600 horses and riders being put through their paces. The show also features a livestock parade, 300+ traders and stallholders, craft and food halls, a funfair, speciality bars, beer tents and many other attractions.
    • August also sees the Highland Field Sports Fair.  Representing a significant element of Highland culture, the fair offers a diversity of entertainments and activities for all of the family. The emphasis is on field sports activities with competitions in fly casting, gun dog handling and clay pigeon shooting. There is also falconry, pipe bands, terrier racing, plus an abundance of stalls selling the best of Scottish produce – from traditional fare such as Venison to Arbroath Smokies, or you could purchase a Scottish made field equipment and accessories.
    • For a spectacle of a different kind, Thunder in the Glens, each August in Aviemore, has become one of the major events in the UK for Harley-Davidson fans. People travel from all over the world to enjoy the three-day event – the largest Harley Davidson rally in the UK.
      • There are over 60 trade stands supporting local charities, demo bike rides, Jeep demo drives, a custom bike show, outside entertainment, Scottish Knights battle scenes and off road motorbike riding. Over 2,500 riders enjoy snaking through the glens around Aviemore.
      • The event is hosted by Edinburgh’s Dunedin Chapter of Harley-Davidson owners. Locals welcome the event, which is good for business.
  • September
    • Scotland’s Salmon Festival takes place from 29th August to 2nd September this year (2017). Started in 2015, this biennial event raises awareness of the Atlantic salmon with a series of talks, films, demonstrations and a two-day fair. The Atlantic salmon is of both cultural and economic importance to Scotland.
    • September to October is the best time to see Salmon leaping up the Highland rivers as they return to their spawning grounds. They make this epic journey anytime between May and November, but the best chance of seeing them is late summer. It is said that early morning and evening are the best times to catch a glimpse (that’s all it is, as they are fast!). It is also best after heavy rain, especially after a dry spell, as this swells the rivers, making their journey possible.
    • September sees the biennial Findhorn Bay Festival – a six-day celebration of arts, culture and innovation, featuring outstanding artists from across Scotland and beyond. The festival, next held in 2018, features: music, theatre, visual art, dance and comedy.
      • The 2016 festival included: Inside the Light is a temporary pop up, architectural lighting display; Transient Light, a gallery by Ian Cameron, 2015 Scottish Landscape Photographer of The Year; 2020VISION, an ambitious, photography-based conservation initiative at Brodie Castle; Guerrilla Lighting displays and a unique Lighting Photography Workshop by the internationally renowned Light Collective; and Frames Per Second, a projection mapping artwork installation that brilliantly weaves together the art forms of photography, film and sound.
    • September is a particularly good time to enjoy early morning dew and low lying mist in the gardens, fields and glens. At any time of year, a drive along the A9 (South) or the A96 (East) brings glorious views of sunrises and mist combined with mountains and valleys. Conversely, driving West on the A96 gives particularly fantastic sunsets.
    • This is the month of the spectacular Highland Military Tattoo at Fort George, near Inverness, now in its fourth year. Hosted in the largest military fort in the UK, the Tattoo brings together top military performers, talented young local performers and some of the world’s finest re-enactors in a showcase of the best of Highland and military culture and traditions. The event starts with a now traditional Typhoon flypast and ends with a stunning fireworks display.
  • October
    • This is the start of the red deer rut. The haunting calls of the stags, combined with the autumnal colours of the glens as the leaves turn red, is a spectacle not to be missed.
    • Late October is also prime time for impressive fungi in the woodlands.
    • October is also an ideal time to be travelling the coast to photograph waves breaking on the shore as the winds pick up and the first winter storms roll in.
    • On the cultural front, October sees the Inverness Street Theatre Festival. The festival, held over three days at various locations, features top quality acts. Plus, the Annual Golden Spurtle™ World Porridge Making Championships take place in Carrbridge, in the Cairngorms National Park.
    • Ghosts and ghouls abound during Inverness’ annual Halloween celebration at Ness Islands.  The islands are transformed with Lighting effects, shows and participation by various creative groups, who are drafted in to provide spookily realistic scares and shocks, with plenty of fancy dress and special effects. This has become one of the biggest fancy dress events staged in Scotland.
  • November
    • Autumn and winter is when most female grey seals haul themselves ashore to give birth. In Scotland, this is typically November-December time. With a long zoom lens, you can get some great close-ups of them on the beach, without getting too close or bothering them at all. Small colonies of Grey and Common seals can be seen year-round, not too far from us, around the coast in Inverness-shire and Aberdeenshire.
    • November provides a unique opportunity for some stunning night-time photography at the light shows of the Colours of Cluny in Forres, Moray.
    • Not forgetting, of course, bonfire night or Guy Fawkes night as it is known in the UK. This is another great photographic opportunity with many events happening in the days either side of the 5th November.
    • For a weekend at the end of November, repeated early December, The Christmas Arts, Crafts & Food Fair at Eden Court affords the opportunity to sample and admire the vibrant arts, crafts and food. The Highlands has long been a magnet for the artisan craftsmen and women. This is one of the best displays of original work, with a festive theme too – something for everyone.
  • December
    • Though we can get a frost almost any time in the Highlands, particularly high up, December is when frost is more reliable. That said, as we are near the coast and the sea in the Inverness and Moray area, frost isn’t as commonplace as many inland places in the UK. Frosty mornings offer glorious photographic opportunities.
    • There’s lots of festive and cultural events on in the run up to Christmas, culminating in Hogmanay. Inverness really punches above its weight buy providing, free of charge, the Red Hot Highland Fling.

Some Advantages of Avoiding Peak Season

Whilst, as we have already said – we love summer here in the Highlands, there are some distinct advantages and opportunities to be enjoyed outside the peak Season of June to September. The big advantage of the summer is the relatively warm weather. In July-August, the temperature is usually between 20 and 30o centigrade (68 to 86oF).

We’ve already cited some of our reasons above, such as: fewer people, better light for photography, misty mornings, stunning mountain scenes and night skies. Here’s our other reasons:

  • No midges! We are lucky not to be bothered by midges where we live in Culloden and in Inverness. You don’t have to stray too far into the Highland countryside though to risk being bothered or bitten.
    • The midges don’t like wind or bright sunlight. So bright and windy days (of which there are plenty) are good to venture out in.
    • Midges like warm, wet/humid, still weather. They are most active first thing in the morning, and particularly late afternoon/evening when any wind often drops. So these are the times and conditions that are best to avoid or at least prepare for.
    • The good news is that midges stop flying in wind speeds greater than about 3 metres/second  (6 miles per hour). According to Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), midges seem to have a threshold of about 60-75% humidity below which they are inactive. Peak activity occurs at 90% humidity.
    • Midges don’t like: smoke and many plant/herb extracts such as citronella, camphor, lavender, rosemary, thyme, eucalyptus, lemongrass, peppermint, pennyroyal or cedarwood. So a smoker can be handy, as can the many insect repellants available to buy (we recommend Smidge).
    • When bitten, apparently midges inject a pheromone to tell other midges that you’re fair game. So avoid that first bite!
    • That said, not everyone is botheed by biting midges – they are choosy!
    • It is only the females that bite, but that’s not much of a consolation.
    • Midges are not just a Scottish phenomenon. According to midge expert the Midgieman, they can found anywhere there is peat or boggy ground, in Wales, England, Ireland, Scandinavian countries and parts of Canada.
    • SNH conclude: The best method to avoid being bitten in the Highlands is to use a repellent and to recognise the conditions when midges are likely to be most active and avoid going out in them.
  • Less chance of ticks!
    • Aside from midges, which are mainly an annoyance, there is a potentially more dangerous insect that can bite and harm you – the tick. These are not a Scottish phenomenon
    • According to Lyme Disease Action:
      • Ticks are most active from March to October but may be active on mild winter days too.
      • Like midges, ticks like (indeed need) humidity. They are therefore restricted to areas of moderate to high rainfall with vegetation that retains a high humidity. So they like woodland, heathland, moorland, rough pasture, forests and parks – especially where there is wildlife to feed off.
      • Ticks bite in order to feed on blood. The bite is usually painless; an undiscovered tick may stay feeding for several days.
      • Ticks carrying disease are found across the UK in both town and countryside. Lyme disease is the most common issue.
      • Not all ticks are infected – infection rate in any place varies from zero to about 15% (typically 6%). The risk of infection increases the longer the tick is attached. To put it into context, around 3,000 people per year in the UK contract Lyme disease from tick bites, as compared to 300,000 in the USA.
      • The good news is that (i) ticks can easily be removed with the proper (inexpensive) equipment (ii) the risk of disease can be countered with anti-biotics.
      • So midges and ticks don’t have to spoil your fun. Awareness and preparation is key. Stay vigilant, cover up and use insect repellant.
  • More accommodation is available. 
    • The Highlands is a quite seasonal place. It gets relatively busy in the summer months, whereas in the Winter, in more remote places, tourist related services may close down.
    • The success of the North Coast 500 promotional activity is leading to an expansion of the tourist industry. More services are available and are staying open for longer, often year-round. However, for peak season, accommodation can get booked up well in advance.

Population Density

  • Outside of Inverness, the population density is low. For Scotland as a whole, population density is 65 people per square kilometre (/km sq), compared to 267/km sq for the UK as a whole.
  • For the Highlands this drops to only 9/km sq (7.8 if you exclude the City of Inverness).
  • The average population density for the EU is 116/km sq.
  • By comparison, the population density in the Greater London area is 1,500/km sq.
    • If this sounds high, bear in mind the following:
      • Monaco – 18,369/km sq
      • Glasgow City – 3,470/km sq
      • Dundee City – 2,477/km sq
      • Edinburgh City – 1,894/km sq
      • Aberdeen City – 1,240/km sq

These are just a few examples of what we can put together for you to enjoy on your bespoke Highland Tour. Don’t forget that you can combine your chosen itinerary with photography and personal development mentoring and guidance. We recommend that you chose your preferred time from the distinct four Highland seasons and ideally come back more than once to enjoy a difference experience.

Contact us now to commence your dream vacation.