The Scottish Highlands are an area of north Scotland, in the United Kingdom, that occupy about three quarters of the country, from north of Stirling and Dundee, winding westwards to the North Sea. The highlands stretch northwards and encompass Inverness, to the tip of Scotland and include the smaller islands in the Atlantic Ocean on the other coastline. The Grampian Mountain range and the mountain Ben Nevis (Britain’s tallest mountain, over 700 metres/2,300 feet) are also found here.
The Highlands are most known for their rough terrain, incredible beauty and ancient history. The scenery is created from peaks of gigantic mountains, depth of sweeping valleys and textures from stones, granite and marble carved over billions of years with glaciers, rivers and time. Angus Miller, in his article, Visit Scotland, says, “Stand on any rock in Scotland, and you are standing on a piece of history, one offering a glimpse into Scotland’s past.”
Scotland’s past is a sad and momentous part of the British Isles’s history. This geographical region was once populated with families and farming communities, but in 1745 the Jacobites, King James (The Great Pretender) and his son, Charles Edward Stewart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) began to protest to have the Stewarts as monarchs in Britain. They were unsuccessful. The Battle of Colluden followed in 1946 and the uprising ended. The Jacobites took the brunt of the losses terribly quickly, while the Duke of Cumberland, in charge of the loyalist party to the king, encountered losses of a lesser degree. The King stayed in power and Bonnie Prince Charlie fled to France. A memorial stands on the Colluden moor in the Scottish highlands, marking the loss of lives, in an eerie silent and desolate sanctuary.
A natural emigration resulted from the above battle, with Scottish tribes losing their homes and way of life. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the highlanders moved to the Scottish lowlands, the sea coasts and the North American colonies. The historical clearances impacted the agricultural use of the highlands, too. Sheep farming was introduced and took over the glens. Records and ideas suggest that the highlanders lost their homes, culture and were betrayed by their own clan chiefs, to add to the suffering. An excellent resource about the clearances is the Wikipedia enclcyopedia at www.wikipedia.org or for a more in depth account, John Prebble’s book, The Highland Clearances.
Today, the mountains stand majestic and vast, having absorbed the past, rebellious and courageous acts of its descendandants. The customs that have remained include kilt-making, the Scottish language, Gaelic, is still spoken in small pockets. If one wanted to work in the Highlands, then, knowledge in sheep farming or whisky distilling might be recommended. Most of the work now is seasonal with ski resorts in the winter and water fun in the summer. Of course, a passion to enjoy the outdoors and climbing hills or mountaineering are a must if one is to enjoy the rugged terrain of the Scottish highlands.