The Highlands are famed for its rich royal heritage. The Castle of Mey in Caithness has one of the strongest ties to the current monarchy, with the opulent fortress acting as the late Queen Mother’s holiday home since the mid-1950s. To the southwest you’ll find a quintessential Scottish castle in Eilean Donan, while Urquhart Castle on the iconic banks of Loch Ness and the Isle of Skye’s Dunvegan provide equally picture-perfect snapping opportunities.
Dunvegan Castle is actually most famous for its Fairy Flag, a mystical banner passed onto the resident Macleod family, which is purported to have granted them good fortune for centuries. Scotland is a land steeped in myth and legend and many regions of the Highlands boast similarly fantastical tales. Glencoe is said to be the birthplace of the mysterious Ossian, a local 19th century bard who stars as the narrator in Scottish writer James Macpherson’s epic poems.
Like the sweeping countryside and glens Disney•Pixar’s talented animators have created, the Highlands boasts similarly stunning scenery. From the sweeping, graceful waters of Glen Affric to the pristine village of Drumnadrochit at the foot of Glen Urquhart, the Highlands is characterised by constantly changing beauty. This is never more prevalent than in the Cairngorms National Park. The largest park of its kind in Britain, it boasts a striking blend of diverse landscapes, spanning snow-capped mountains to peaceful lochs.
With such incredible natural diversity, it's only natural the Highlands is home to a vast array of spectacular flora and fauna. Whether you want to watch Atlantic grey seals leisurely basking on the edges of Loch Pooltiel on the Isle of Skye or spot lordly golden eagles soaring over the skies of Glen Coe; the region’s eclectic geography provides the chance to spot some unforgettable wildlife.
The clan culture of the Highlands is incredibly storied, with certain groups sharing links with Norse heritage, such as Clan Gunn who hail from such regions as Caithness and Sutherland. The 1st Duke of Sutherland was actually largely responsible for the Highland Clearances of the early 19th century, when he forced thousands of tenants from their homes in order to build roads across the county. Most famously, the Highlands played a substantial role in the Jacobite Risings of the late 17th century, and you can learn more about Jacobtisim with the exhibits at Fort William’s West Highland Museum.
Many ancient historic sites also punctuate the Highlands. Elgin Cathedral in Moray was erected in dedication to the Holy Trinity and its grand ruins have admirably stood the test of time. Lochaber provides an equally arresting sight with the unmistakable Glenfinnan Monument. The jutting memorial marks the spot Bonnie Prince Charile raised his standard during the start of the Jacobite Rising in 1745. Meanwhile, the Pictish Trail provides unique insight into the ancient culture of a people who lived in the north of Scotland between the third and ninth centuries. The remains of their society can be seen in standing stones that dot the landscape between Inverness and Dunrobin.
With its utterly enchanting topography and its ancient clans, castles and heritage, the Highlands truly encompasses the spirit of Scotland seen in Disney•Pixar’s Brave.