The British Isles are surprisingly conducive to human civilisation. The majority of the land area of the southern portion of the country is flat and rich in nutrients – perfect for cultivation. There are no volcanoes, plate tectonics, or other dangerous geological features. And we benefit from the Gulf Stream, giving us mild summers and mild winters (even though it might not seem like it sometimes). Britain is a green and verdant land – and pretty dull for the most part.
But if you venture further north, you find something totally different. The country we know of provincial towns and a Wilkos on every corner gives way to wilderness, the likes of which is unrivalled anywhere else in the world.
It is essential to understand that Britain is a land of two parts – the accessible lowlands where 99 per cent of people live. And the rugged highlands, where only the hardiest souls eke out an existence.
The Scottish Highlands are a part of the UK, but there’s practically nothing here that reminds you of that fact. Not even a phonebox. The only giveaway is the family “public footpath” signs that you find dotted throughout the region. That’s about it.
When you spend a week in a destination like this, between Durness and the Borders, you learn a lot about the country in which you live – some of it unexpected.
You Can View The Milky Way As Our Ancestors Did
Even if you travel fifty miles out of a major city in England, the glow of the lights impedes your view of the Milky Way. But when you spend a week in the wilds of Scotland, you get an unimpeded view. There are practically no major settlements north of Glasgow, especially in the interior, meaning that stars appear crystal clear. There’s a lot of detail up in the heavens – to an extent you can’t appreciate if you do a bit of sky-gazing further south.
You Realise That The Land Is Older Than Our Civilisation
Britain is, in many ways, the cradle of the modern world. It is here where the industrial revolution began that allowed our current way of life to come into being. We’re used to the idea of ancient cities, layered with history dating back to the Roman Empire, and sometimes before.
But when you visit the Highlands, it is an entirely different experience. The wilderness reminds you that our now affluent country was once a rugged landscape, dominated by rocky crags and rolling tundra. It shows you the underlying nature of the place and the conditions that our ancestors battled in their struggle for survival.
You Discover That The Country Has A Peaceful Side
Cramming sixty-five million people onto a tiny island on the edge of Europe means that it can be hard to find peaceful locations sometimes. Even destinations like the Peak District are packed with tourists year-round (which is why families go abroad). But when you visit the Highlands, you discover what it means to be alone. The vast expanse of wilderness is like nothing else anywhere else in our crowded isles.