Wester Ross, United Kingdom
Yes, it’s a struggle to avoid the gushing clichés in this land of sigh-inspiring panoramas – a world away from the cobbled streets of Edinburgh and urban energy of Glasgow, Wester Ross is Scotland’s wild frontier. This northernmost part of the British Isles is a celebration of the great outdoors: rivers, coast and lochs afford fisherfolk the ultimate fix, while crystal-clear waters framed by picturesque mountainscapes provide a walker’s paradise – and a backdrop for that most testosterone-fuelled of events, the Highland Games. Having originated under English occupation, when the Scots had to stealth-train for war without weapons, today’s games give us bare-below-kilts he-men tossing cabers, throwing hammers and lobbing rocks. These enjoyments are best taken with a stiff whisky; after all, the word for this amber-hued elixir stems from the Gaelic for ‘water of life’.
PlanesFly to Inverness (www.invernessairport.com). For domestic flights, we like the BMI Baby service (www.bmibaby.com) from Heathrow. But there are lots of other options, including easyJet (www.easyjet.com), BA (www.ba.com) and Ryanair (www.ryanair.com).
TrainsThere are frequent trains to Inverness – both direct and via Perth – from Edinburgh and Glasgow; journeys take three to four hours. From London Euston, you can also take the 20-hour Caledonian Sleeper (www.firstscotrail.com).
AutomobilesA car is crucial for exploring the Highlands. Do be careful on those single-track roads, and resolve to enjoy the scenery at a slow, savourable pace.
TaxisChances are you’ll want your own wheels, but if you do plan on some serial whisky tasting before you take the high road, let your hotel arrange a ride for you.