We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
For getting outdoors in the highlands and the islands, we recommend Wilderness Scotland.Scottish history is not very interesting (Norwegian invaders, battles with Romans, clan squabbles, battles with Brits) until the Scottish Enlightenment; the land itself isn't very interesting (lots of barren hills and high hills with sheep) unless you love golf, and their food is unappetizing - but it's worth going once. I've been there twice.
The grouse and Red Deer hunting can be good. Now, the Scots themselves are quite amusing, cranky people and worth meeting and talking to. This only occurs in pubs or while smoking in front of pubs. If America runs on Dunkin, Scotland runs on whisky and tobacco.
The Highlands are rugged, but not too wild really because the Clearance Laws entailed cutting down all the trees (Scotch Pine, of which there are probably more in the US than in Scotland now). One good result of the clearances was the emigration of Scots to the US and to Oz.
Bob Dylan recently bought a castle and estate in the Highlands. Interesting song, Highlands. Goes between real life in Boston and dreams of the Highlands. Lyrics here. In our family, we often say "You look like you want a hard-boiled egg."
Now just wait a minute!
Actually, medieval Scotland is a rather interesting place (and no clans to mention) with a rather determined attempt at centralized government, overlapping international alliances/trade routes, and all sorts of things going on. It is just few people have written about it. But check out Stephen Boardman (U. Edinburgh) for a look at the Scottish government in the late 1300's/early 1400's. It has nothing to do with plaid. The plaid comes later and has more to do with the bluidy Sassenachs.
Full disclaimer, Boardman was my supervisor when I wrote a Ph.D. entitled 'Networks of Power in Southeast Scotland, 1370-1420'. So I am biased!
re: your barbarous comment "Scotland itself isn't very interesting unless you love golf, but it's worth going once." I think all your hiking there must have been great, but it seems rather limited to view a country solely as a place to exercise...
One of the most beautiful countries on God's earth. Friendly, intelligent, well-educated people who are inventive, hardworking and hospitable even to oblivious Sassenachs like yourself. A rich history. Quite apart from the beautiful landscapes: Glorious castles, country houses, beautiful villages and cities, with more history in ONE of them than in our entire beloved USA. A variety of climates and landscapes. A world class university (Edinburgh). The place MANY of our fellow Americans' ancestors came from (who, me, biased with some 3/4 Scots ancestry??!?)
Golf in America is mostly a stupid sport for out of shape old white men who are won't even walk from hole to hole any more. Possibly a more civilised sport in the country of its origin, so long as a certain American pirate has nothing to do with the course.
The Scots have been great warriors, great scholars, great inventors, great explorers, but more importantly, the average Scot to this day is decent, hard working and someone you would want as a neighbour.
The Scots (and the Irish) remind us Yanks to fight tyranny, no matter the cost. To value liberty over comfortable cages. To fight for principles and causes, even in the face of overwhelming odds...Plus, David Hume was a Scot, and Immanuel Kant had Scots blood from his mother...
But it's the brave Scots explorers, missionaries, Empire builders, inventors, medical researchers, and soldiers who I'd have thought you would have admired (and whose former haunts I'd have thought you would be interested in)...It's a reach, but I know you used to like James Bond. No cooler man. A Scot.
Or do you only admire corrupt American businessmen and real estate developers who prate about liberty when they want to abolish some law that interferes with their pillaging??
I had an uncle, an American businessman and rancher, who while traveling Scotland and visiting cattle operations there in the 1960's had his windshield blown out by a gunshot from the side of a country road. He and my aunt were shaken but unharmed, and the local small-town papers kept the story on the front page for weeks. He no doubt found Scotland interesting, but he often told me in my youth, "Son, when you're ready to buy a wife, go to Ireland."
Scotland has not been an important part of civilization for a century, pity. Much of the emigration headed to Canada, double pity. They had quite a run in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but lost the tread.
Scots today are cranky and falling down in the productivity department. The diet and the alcohol don't help.
I'm glad my great grandparents had the sense to leave when they did.
Dylan's story in "Highlands" is basically the same as the story in Brigadoon.
I love to travel wherever... this summer, my daughter wanted to go to Wales, which didn't interest me at all but I loved it best of all the countries we visited. We drove the 470 from north to south. I would love to go there again, but now I have a warrant out for my arrest. I took to the road too quickly, and neglected to notice whether the speed limits were in mph or kph. I was surprised to receive the arrest warrant in the mail a month after we got home. We had seen the cameras on the roadside as you drive through the charming small towns.
The strangest place we saw was in the south. I wonder if the Brecon Beacons National Park area had a Clearance Law. Driving through is like traveling inside of a fish bowl, with steep hills all around you, 360, no trees at all, just grass sheep pasture. Very strange.
'(Norwegian invaders, battles with Romans, clan squabbles, battles with Brits)'
The Scots are Brits. They're just not English. Your staggering ignorance disqualifies your opinions from being taken seriously.