Kilmartin Glen in Argyll has more evidence of Neolithic and Bronze Age life than anywhere else in Scotland, with 800 ancient monuments including standing stones, cup and ring markings, stone circles and burial cairns. Visit the museum ( www.kilmartin.
org) before your walk.
Time travel forward an epoch to the Iron Age and
Dun Deardail* and climb a waymarked trail from Glen Nevis to the view-laden knoll where a fort once stood, before being destroyed by a fire so intense it melted rock.
A walk at Culloden near Inverness takes you to the site of the final battle of the Jacobite risings, and the last on British soil, in 1746. 1500 men lost their lives, the majority of them Scots fighting for Bonnie Prince Charlie, and many were buried in mass graves on the moor, where it’s said the heather now won’t grow and the birds won’t sing.
Trace the hoof-prints of animals and the footsteps of the men who herded them through the glens and passes to market in the 18th century on the region’s drove routes. The Lairig Ghru through the Cairngorm massif was one of the busiest, and spectacular too: 19 miles through Britain’s deepest valley, with a climb to over 2700 feet. Walk to the village of Arichonan in Knapdale Forest and you’ll find only ruins. In 1848, the laird ordered the villagers off the land so he could graze cash-cow sheep, a brutal action repeated again and again across Scotland in the Highland Clearances. They rioted, some were jailed, but these roofless houses tell the tale of what happened next.
When the bold kindred, in the time long-vanishd, Conquer’d the soil and fortified the keepNo seer foretold the children would be banish’d, That a degenerate Lord might sheep.” boast his The Canadian Boat-Song, Anon
Castle lovers are spoilt for choice. Try Dunnottar (below) a ruined medieval fort on a sea-lashed outcrop near Stonehaven; or the fairytale turrets of Craigievar, said to have inspired Walt Disney in Cinderella; or
Balmoral in the Cairngorms, summer refuge of the Royal family since Victoria and Albert bought it in 1852.