Here is a little crash course in The Highlands for the beginners:
1/ The Highlands are relatively small. However there are not many roads that cross The Highlands, plus a lot of the roads are really narrow and windey too, so it can take a long time to drive what looks like a short distance. If you're visiting Scotland just for a week, I'd advice you to stick to a small area, take your time, and plan to come back again to visit more!
2/ Mountains are not really high in Scotland (compared to Alpine standards) but they need to be treated with respect like high mountains. You can find snow in May, and when the sun shines, you burn easily! Never go hiking without being well equiped (waterproof and warm chothing, sun cream, etc)
3/ You might struggle to find shops and villages in some areas. If you need to provide for your own food, plan your shopping in advance!
4/ Some clichés about Scotland are true: you can experience 4 seasons in a day, you often have to stop your car to let sheep cross the road, the wind in The Highlands is often so strong it could rip out cows' horns and in summer time, the midges will drive you crazy (you won't see any in most place until the beginning of June though)
5/ Some other clichés are wrong: it doesn't rain all the time, the food is good and sadley there is probably no Nessie in Loch Ness.
My Top 5 of the holidays:
- The 1st class sleeper train from London to Inverness. You leave London on Friday night at 21.00, have a really good night's sleep in a super comfy bed and are woken up by a breakfast in bed at 7.30 in The Highlands. It's a real experience, and not that expensive!
- Edinburgh: magnificient! Accomodation: Airbnb.com. We rented a small flat in the city centre for the price of a basic hotel: it was great! (we didn't have time to go to Glasgow, but I've heard it's great. I'll definitely want to go next time!)
- The mountains around Glencoe, and the small village of Ardgour (more a bunch of houses by the water really)
- The white sandy beaches and turquoise water of Sanna
- Scottish people: from the lady in the train to hikers and B&B owners: everybody is welcoming and adorable.
Chocolat my travelling bear's Top 2:
- Baby sheep and cows, so cute with their long hair
- The full Scottish breakfast in the B&Bs (kipper, black pudding, haggis, sausage, eggs, potato pancakes, toasts, muesli, etc)