The Highlands are not precisely defined, but essentially they are the Gaelic-speaking area that lies north and west of a geological feature known as the Highland Boundary Fault. There, craggy mountains are scoured by rushing, peat-stained streams. The Scottish great outdoors has always been a magnet for Americans, thanks to world-class shooting and deer hunting. Today Scotland’s cultural heritage is ever more accessible, and it would be possible to spend several months in the Highlands and still not visit every castle, historic site, notable garden or whisky distillery that is open and welcoming visitors. To the south and east, the Highlands begin relatively gently, especially in the lovely county of Perthshire, famous for its rich agricultural land and fruit orchards, as well as rugged mountains and glens.
Long a favorite with Hideaway Report readers, the Belmond Royal Scotsman train offers two- to seven-night itineraries through the dramatic landscapes
The last official private army in Europe, the Atholl Highlanders, falls under the command of the Duke of Atholl. His ancestral home, Blair Castle, in the town of Blair Atholl, draws visitors for its fine Georgian interiors, period antiques and old armaments.
The House of Bruar
Just outside Blair Atholl, the House of Bruar brings together one of the finest collections of Scottish products that we have ever encountered. For those hankering after fine Scottish cashmere, this is the place to come. There is also a tempting selection in the food hall, which makes an ideal stop for lunch before or after a visit to Blair Castle.
Scotland's Smallest Distillery
The smallest distillery in Scotland, Edradour, lies tucked in a tiny glen near Pitlochry, southeast of Blair Atholl. Its white buildings with bright-red doors make for a charming scene. The tour is eminently worthwhile. This is the place, if ever there was one, for a wee dram.
Activities at Gleneagles
Gleneagles is one of the world’s great golf resorts. However, the range of activities at the hotel is astonishing. My personal favorite is flying one of the Harris’s hawks at the falconry school.