25 Places In Scotland That Are Straight Out Of A Fantasy Novel

Who needs Westeros? We’ve got Wester Ross.

1. Strathaird peninsula, Isle of Skye

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This beautiful, barely-populated peninsula in the south of Skye is home to the ruins of the Iron Age hill fort Dun Ringill. Most of the peninsula is now owned by conservation charity The John Muir Trust.

2. Smoo Cave, Durness

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No, this isn’t a series of screenshots from a video game: It’s actually Smoo Cave, a 200 foot long series of interconnected sea caverns near the village of Durness in the highlands.

3. Knapps Loch, Kilmacolm, Inverclyde

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Knapps Loch is a small but impossibly scenic loch beside the village of Kilmacolm, which has been occupied since the Bronze Age and sits 16 miles west of Glasgow.

4. The Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye

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This series of blue, inviting interconnected pools and waterfalls in Glen Brittle might look tropical, but they’re actually freezing cold (well, they are in Scotland after all). Despite that fact, they’re very popular with wild swimmers.

5. Glen Coe, Highland

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This sweeping, dramatic, and precipitous glen was carved from the surrounding landscape by glaciers during the last ice age. It’s generally considered to be one of the most spectacular places in Scotland.

6. Dunottar Castle, Aberdeenshire

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This Game Of Thrones style fortress is actually Dunnottar – from the Scottish Gaelic Dùn Fhoithear, which means “fort on the shelving slope”. The site is thought to have been occupied since Pictish times (5000 BC to 700 AD).

7. Buachaille Etive Mòr, Highland

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The “Great Herdsman of Etive” dominates the skyline for miles around and can easily be seen from the scenic A82 road. The name actually refers to a ridge rather than an individual mountain: Its most recognisable peak is Stob Dearg (pictured).

8. Handa Island, Sutherland

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The sandstone cliffs surrounding this stunning, wildlife-packed west coast island come alive every summer when around 100,000 seabirds gather to breed, including over 250 pairs of puffin.

9. Kilchurn Castle, Loch Awe

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Kilchurn Castle is a ruined 15th century fortress that sits at the north eastern end of Loch Awe in Argyll. It was the ancestral home of Clan Campbell, but was abandoned after being badly damaged by lightning in 1760.

10. Callanish Standing Stones, Isle of Lewis

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These ominous standing stones on the Isle of Lewis are arranged in a cruciform shape. According to legend, early on midsummer morning an entity known as the “Shining One” walks through the stones to the centre of the circle.

11. Portree, Isle of Skye

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This brightly coloured, magical port town on the Isle of Skye sits beside a natural harbour, with houses stretching up the hillside behind. The name “Portree” means “King’s Port” (Port-an-Rìgh).

12. Loch Shieldaig, Wester Ross

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Who needs Westeros when you’ve got Wester Ross? In the centre of this highland loch sits Shieldaig Island, which is covered in mature pine trees despite the fact the surrounding hills and mountains are bare: It’s thought they were planted in Victorian times.

13. Rannoch Moor, Perth and Kinross

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This 50 square mile expanse of moorland – also known as the Great Moor of Rannoch – is home to a vast array of wildlife, including grouse, curlews and red deer.

14. Neist Point, Isle of Skye

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This dramatic headland is the most westerly point on Skye. It’s home to several species of rare alpine plants, and was a filming location for the 2013 Keanu Reeves fantasy action film 47 Ronin.

15. Linlithgow Palace, West Lothian

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Linlithgow Palace is a large, eerie and well preserved ruin about 15 miles west of Edinburgh. It was one of the main residences of the kings and queens of Scotland until 1603, but fell into disuse and burned down in 1746.

16. Iona, Inner Hebrides

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This small island in the Inner Hebrides is famous for its tranquil beauty. In the Early Middle Ages it was an important part of the ancient Gaelic kingdom of Dál Riata and was a centre of spiritual learning for around four centuries.

17. St. Monans Jetty, Fife

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St Monans is one of several fishing villages that make up the East Neuk of Fife. It’s home to a fantastic windmill, but its most notable feature is its unusual, zig zagging jetty that reaches out into the Outer Forth Estuary.

18. Sgùrr Thearlaich, Isle of Skye

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Sgùrr Thearlaich is one of several peaks that form the Black Cuillin ridge in Skye, which also features a hard to climb “Inaccessible Pinnacle”. You can watch an incredible video of Scottish trial cyclist Danny Macaskill riding to the top of the pinnacle here.

19. Seilebost, Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides

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Seilebost, and the similar neighbouring beach of Luskentyre, are often described as the best beaches in Scotland thanks to their bright, white sands contrasting with a tropical looking (but chilly) turquoise sea.

20. Eilean Donan Castle, Kyle of Lochalsh

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Eilean Donan is (arguably) one of the most iconic castles in Scotland. It sits on a narrow tidal island at the point where the three great sea lochs of Duich, Long, and Alsh come together.

21. Culross, Fife

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This isn’t a historical theme park: It’s actually the Royal Burgh of Culross, a small town that has hardly changed since the 17th century. The Town House (built in 1648) still features a witches’ prison.

22. Finnich Glen, Drymen

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Finnich Glen, also known as The Devil’s Pulpit, is a very narrow 100ft deep gorge hidden away in trees about four miles south of Drymen and about 16 miles north of Glasgow. The fast-flowing waters make it a popular spot for canyoning.

23. Loch Achtriochtan, Highland

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The crystal clear Loch Achtriochtan – also known as Loch Trychardan – reflects the dramatic northern ridges of the Bidean Nam Bian (Three Sisters) mountain range near Glencoe.

24. Ben Nevis, Lochaber, Highland

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Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the UK (4,408 feet) and attracts around 125,000 visitors each year. The summit is covered in snow for around eight months a year, making it one of the best places in Britain to try ice climbing.

25. The Storr, Isle of Skye

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These weirdly shaped, otherworldly rock pinnacles were a filming location for the 2012 Ridley Scott-directed science fiction film Prometheus. The largest of these ancient peaks is the 50 metre high Old Man of Storr.

Eat your heart out, Middle-earth.

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Hilary Mitchell is the Scotland editor for BuzzFeed and is based in Edinburgh.
 
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