Scotland sits beautifully at the tip of the UK, now separate from England in its own right, and has its own glory to boast of. It’s well-known to be one of the most beautiful parts of the UK, with unmatched scenery that leaves even the most well-travelled individual in awe. From the rolling countryside to the historic cities with centuries of tales to tell, there’s everything you could possibly want in Scotland.
One of the lures of Scotland is the National Scenic Areas – Scotland’s equivalent of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the UK – and there are over 40 of them to explore that cover 13% of the land. From Ben Nevis to the Northern Isles, you won’t be disappointed. Eager to learn more? Read on to explore some of the most popular Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and some of the lesser-known but stunning locations.
Ben Nevis is perhaps one of the most well-known locations in Scotland. It’s the highest mountain in Scotland, with a mountain range that peaks at 4,411m above sea level. To get any higher than this, you’ll have to travel 459 miles in any direction. Be warned – Ben Nevis isn’t for the novice hiker; it’s a complicated and challenging climb if you’re going to climb it, but it’s also one of the most rewarding, with some of the most breathtaking views you’ll find in Scotland.
Do you want to take on the challenge? Despite being a tough expedition, experts recommend the mountain path route – also known as the Pony Path – if you’re a novice climber but still want to experience the wonders of Ben Nevis. Do you want to stop by and take in the mountain views without a climb? Take a ride into Fort William, the town at the foot of Ben Nevis, to tuck into some hearty local food.
Are you a keen sporting enthusiast that wants to use the diverse Scottish landscape as your playground? Glen Strathfarrar is the place to be. From high mountain walking to fishing, you’ll find a wealth of things to do in this beautiful part of the Highland region of Scotland. You could even look at motorhome hire Scotland to get the most out of your time in Glen Srathfarrar and the surrounding areas, with Glen Strathfarrar having picturesque roads winding around it to explore.
Keep in mind the road running through the Glen is closed on Tuesdays and only open on Wednesdays until 1:30 pm. It can also get really busy during the high points of the summer season as many tourists and locals flock to the areas to enjoy the landscape.
Hoy And West Mainland
This National Scenic Area covers Hoy and Mainland in the Orkney Islands of Scotland, providing you with a mix of coastal views and rolling countryside to explore. It’s a haven for nature lovers, with rounded hills full of a variety of wildlife to admire. As for the dramatic coastline, you won’t be disappointed with the views it has to offer – with numerous coastal walking and driving routes to explore.
The Hoy and West Mainland are perhaps one of the lesser-known National Scenic Areas, yet their beauty is somewhat unmatched. There aren’t many other locations in Scotland that combine dramatic coastal views with rolling hills that are easily accessible for the public to explore. At St. John’s Head, you’ll find some of the highest sea cliffs in the UK. Northeast of Stormness, you’ll find the Standing Stones of Stenness – a neolithic monument with many tales of its origin.
Are you a Game of Thrones fan? Then your mind may have wandered to Westeros – home of the coveted Iron Throne – and you’d be right in doing so. George RR Martin – the creator of the Game of Thrones books – admitted he took inspiration from Wester Ross when writing his books after taking a trip there some years before. The unspoilt scenery sees thousands of visitors each year, with the best way to explore is by car or foot. There are multiple lochs to wander around and endless countryside to meander through as you imagine the inspiration George Martin took from the beauty to create Westeros.
That’s just a snippet of the beauty of the National Scenic Areas in Scotland. Visiting Scotland and exploring the incredible natural beauty won’t leave you disappointed. Whether by foot or car, plan a route and experience as much as possible in one trip.