I’ll Take The Highlands

Before I left for Scotland, I did a cursory Google search to see what was a “must-see,” and every page, without fail, said that any visitors to Scotland had to go into the Highlands, which is famous for its dramatic landscape that differs from the southern part of Scotland.

After several weeks of (not so) subtly bringing up the topic, I finally convinced two of the other girls in my dorm to take a weekend hiking trip to the Highlands with me, and we set out on a typical rainy St Andrews Saturday at around 7 in the morning. When we got to the train station, our excitement waned when we learned that all train service had been cancelled, and switched over to buses. It turned out to be blessing in disguise though, as the buses go much slower than the trains (and take a more scenic route). We got to see more of the Highland country side than we would have on the train.

We got into Aviemore, a town in the Cairngorms National Park, around noon, pulling into a train station that more closely resembled a gingerbread house than a transit centre. We left straight from the station to go check into the hostel, and then hit the trails.

Everyone we spoke to told us to take the same hike in the Craigellachie National Nature Reserve, because the view was incredible, but I was not prepared for what we saw at the end. Most of the hike was slow switchback up the side of the Creag, and it was fascinating to watch the scenery change as we moved up the side of the mountain. The majority of the hike had the same look: small ponds, moss covered trees, and brilliant fall colours on the leaves that still remained. We made our way carefully along the path that had been turned mostly into mud due to rain, stopping occasionally to climb some rock formations. Towards the top of the Creag, the path steepened intensely, as we finished off a majority of the 500m-elevation gain in the last stretch.

I'll Take The Highlands - Clapway

I'll Take The Highlands - Clapway

I'll Take The Highlands - Clapway


The landscape and the view from the top was so strikingly different from the terrain we’d just been in minutes before that it stopped us in our tracks. The weather changed dramatically as well: on the hike up it had been absolutely perfect, but once on the top the wind speeds picked up to thirty miles an hour. The day was mostly clear, and from where we stood we could see for miles into the Cairngorms National Park: countless Lochs, dramatic mountains, and vibrant colours that only come from near-constant rain. We stood there for the entirety of the Golden Hour, as the sun saturated the already bright shades of the landscape. As the sun began to set, we finally dragged ourselves away from the view and made our way down the mountain.