Dun Beag

Skye | Struan | Broch | ★★

Found overlooking Loch Bracadale on the west side of Skye, Dun Beag is probably the Misty Isle's best example of an iron age broch. These stone, circular towers are peppered across northwest Scotland, originally consisting of a double-layered wall with a staircase in between the layers, multiple floors, and chambers leading off from the central living space. Dun Beag looks particularly impressive as you approach from the west, sited on a rocky knoll littered with the broch's own debris. The inland-facing aspects are less impressive, but remains of staircases and side chambers can still be made out. This is also an excellent viewpoint, with the Duirinish peninsula well seen beyond the uninhabited islets of Tarner and Wiay.

📌 Dun Beag★★
Location: Off A863 half a mile northwest of Struan, Skye, G.R.: NG 340386 ///shuttered.lighter.latter
Open: Always
Cost: Free
Anything else? From the car park at G.R.: NG 338385 ///surreal.hiker.expansion cross the main ro…

Fort Augustus

Highland | Village | ★★★

Touristy, but surprisingly nice... is our verdict for Fort Augustus: the slightly claustrophobic village at the southern extremity of Loch Ness. Traffic converges here from all directions and the place fills up in summer as visitors stop in search of toilets and souvenirs. Fortunately the village offers a little bit more than that! A pretty flight of locks on the Caledonian Canal leads up and away from the main road, with benches making a perfect place for a picnic while watching boats struggle through the narrow staircase. A wire sculpture of a rather friendly looking Nessie stands outside the Caledonian Canal Centre, which contains a small, free exhibition on the waterway as well as splendidly sumptuous-looking cakes. It's also well worth wandering along the canal in the other direction for beautiful views along the full length of Loch Ness.

📌 Fort Augustus ★★★
Location: G.R.: NH 379092 ///collision.pressing.collapsed
Anything else? For those arriving by …

Bridge of Oich

Highland | Invergarry | Suspension bridge | ★

Two bridges span the River Oich immediately north of Loch Oich. The older of the two is a majestic suspension bridge designed by Englishman James Dredge in 1854, and affords good views up and down the Great Glen. Following restoration in the 1990s, pedestrians are welcome to cross, but cars are banished to the newer bridge a few dozen metres to the south on the A82. The same road also features a swing bridge over the parallel Caledonian Canal. Worth a long detour? No. Worth a stop if you're passing by? Sure.

📌 Bridge of Oich
Location: A82 2 miles northeast of Invergarry, G.R.: NH 338036 ///rinse.freedom.bloom
Open: Always
Cost: Free

Invergarry Castle

Highland | Invergarry | Castle | ★

This 6-storey tower house is now a ruin within the grounds of a comfortable hotel, but in its heyday Invergarry Castle was a formidable structure in a strategic location, guarding the Great Glen at Loch Oich. The building was constructed in the 17th century to an L-plan by the MacDonalds, with material reputedly quarried stone by stone from 900 metre-tall Ben Tee by clan members (if you're sceptical, so are we). General Monck burned the castle in 1654, after which followed several changes of ownership between Highland and government forces over the next century. The last act of war saw Invergarry Castle being partially blown up by the British Army under the Duke of Cumberland shortly after the Jacobite defeat at Culloden in 1745. The walls still stand nearly to their full height however, with recent restoration works happily making the site safe to visit without worrying about falling masonry.

📌 Invergarry Castle
Location: On the access drive to…

Laggan Locks

Highland | Laggan | Canal locks | ★

The middle chunk of the Caledonian Canal is probably the quickest for boats to navigate in calm weather, with many miles using the open waters of Loch Lochy and Loch Oich. There are also far fewer canal locks to contend with; one exception is at Laggan, where there are a couple more to wriggle through. This pair of devices preserve the water level on the northeast side, which at about 35 metres above sea level is the highest stretch of the 60-mile waterway. For those of us arriving overland, there's a little car park accessible from the A82 road. A small cafe serves refreshments in the summer months, and there are also a couple of snazzy-looking glamping bothies (called Bonnie and Braw) if you fancy prolonging your stay to an overnight one.

📌 Laggan Locks
Location: Just off A82 half a mile south of Laggan, G.R.: NN 286963 ///look.wriggled.baths
Open: Always
Cost: Free

Walk: The blue pools of Ballachulish

Highland | Ballachulish | Short walk | ★★★★

Sparkling blue pools in a rocky amphitheatre are the local legacy of Ballachulish's once important slate mining industry, now forming an unusual backdrop to a dense network of walking routes. The Brecklet Trail developed by Forestry and Land Scotland rises high above the quarry's west cliffs, soon revealing stunning views both over the manmade lakes and along Loch Leven. After the steep ascent the panorama is lost as the path plunges into a dark forest, but small waterfalls, abandoned buildings and even a small fairy village (see our photo guide!) ensure there's still plenty of visual interest. The quarry interior and a nearby inclined plane (used for transporting slate from the upper parts of the quarry down to sea level) are both reachable by short detours from the walk's start point, and are included on the route map below.

📌 Walk: The blue pools of Ballachulish ★★★★
▶ 4 km / 2 miles | ▲ 120 metres
Features: Ballachulish S…