10 things you wish you knew before traveling to the Scottish Highlands
In June I spent two amazing weeks in the Scottish Highlands. I can honestly say that I learned a lot about the country and its people. Everything you will read in this article below is true, but don’t ever let that cross your plan to visit Scotland! I had an amazing time and loved all of it 🙂
1.The Breakfast is awesome! Until it isn’t anymore…
We all heard about the awesome breakfast they are serving in the UK. Don’t get me wrong, it’s true that the breakfast is a whole new experience. It’s all about eggs, meat and fish and more eggs. The first day you may think: “Woah what an amazing breakfast, I love it!” But after a week you just have a big crawl for normal bread and jam or cornflakes (which is basically non-existent in the Scottish Highlands)
2. All these cute sheep come with a price
While the sheep may be the cutest thing you have ever seen (especially in Spring when there are millions of baby sheep), their droppings are not so much of a pleasure. As most sheep can roam freely in the Highlands, the landscapes and paths are filled with their stinky landmines.
3. In Scotland, they speak English! Or Scottish?
Believe me, these are two completely different languages! While communication in the bigger cities is not much of a problem, you need your hands and feet to get understood by the people in the Highlands. Most of the time they just have a big question mark on their face when you speak ‘normal’ English and so will you. Nevertheless, this has never kept someone from making new friends.
4. You will have such a good time in the Scottish pubs! But wait, where are they?
Again, while you are in the cities there are pubs of course. But in the Highlands? Not so much. There are a few and it is actually nice to go for drinks there, but don’t expect a great party. Most clients are rough elderly Scottish fishermen who seem to come straight out of a cliché fairy tale. Also, in some pubs, they still have the good old jukebox and you actually have to PAY to hear some music.
5. They are famous for their banks and oil in Scotland. But people are not rich!
You will see a lot of poor people in Scotland (poor but not necessarily unhappy). Their banks seem to face a real crisis as they weren’t even able to change us Euros to pounds. And the oil? It’s true that this industry seems to be booming but somehow all the money goes to England…
6. Scotland is so goddamn expensive!
I didn’t know that. I really didn’t! Thought it would just be this way in England, but apparently Scotland needs the profit they get from the tourists. I mean, the entrance for visiting a castle is around 15 pounds per person! And this is everywhere, even in the remotest areas of the Highlands.
7. It’s always raining in Scotland… Or is it?
It’s true that rain is very common in the country, BUT: In most cases, it rains for 5-10 minutes, then the sky clears and the sun is shining again, giving you these amazing cloud formations over the Highlands. Also, you can be really lucky with the weather! In June, we had days when we could wear shorts and T-shirts and even get a sunburn.
8. Beware of the Midges!
Midges are your enemy and they will not have mercy on you. They are very tiny flies who appear in groups of thousands (maybe even millions?). We were lucky and only had midges for the last day on our trip, but locals will confirm that the summer months are terrible. But you can help yourself: In every shop and on the gas stations they sell beekeeper heads which will at least protect your face somehow 😉
9. It’s not all about Whisky… Cider is also booming in Scotland
We all know that Scots drink whisky. I can confirm this fact but there is also hope for all the poor souls who hate this drink. The answer to all your whisky problems is ‘Cider’. They have it everywhere in Scotland, in many different flavors and it’s a lot cheaper than whisky. My special tip: “Old mout cider”
10. Highways? How about some single track roads instead?
Worrying about driving on the left side? No problem in the Highlands: There are mostly single track roads. This means that you have to drive back or stop every single time a car comes on the other side. If you think this sucks, you should also consider that the road is sometimes filled with herds of sheep which are not prepared to give their sleeping places on the road up to you. Also, you will read the word “passing place” at least 100 million times.