The Scottish Highlands are for travelers who love the look of craggy mountains, rugged coastlines, quiet lakes, icy streams and tiny fishing villages. It is a vast unspoiled region -- almost one-fourth of Britain's land surface -- but sparsely populated. A place to hike, to fish, to contemplate.

Across this wild mountain and island landscape, north of the Scottish Lowlands cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, are dotted ancient fortress castles, a heritage of Scotland's turbulent past. The romantic adventures of Sir Walter Scott are set in the Highlands, and this is where you find Loch Ness, the lake famous for its mysterious underwater monster.

Go to the Highlands to enjoy the outdoor life as a camper or guest at a sports resort. Or wander as a sightseer: ramble winding roads, stroll village streets, explore the history and sample the hospitality of the many bed-and-breakfast inns. Among the many attractions: * Inverness: Considered "the capital of the Highlands," it is an ancient city of much charm that sits astride the river Ness. Boat trips depart here to search for the Loch Ness monster. * Isle of Skye: Reached by car ferry from Scotland's western coast, it is a beautifully scenic island of farms and fishing villages and romantic myths of regal adventures. * Eilean Donan Castle: This gray stone stronghold looks exactly as you imagine a fortress should. Once the domain of a 13th-century Scottish chieftan, and still well-preserved, it dominates a small island in Loch Duich at the village of Dornie. * Dunnottar Castle: A magnificently situated 14th-century fortress, it perches atop a rock in the sea near Stonehaven on the eastern coast. * Stornoway: The largest town in the Outer Hebrides, a 130-mile string of islands off the western coast, it is best known as the center of the Harris tweed industry. * Glen Torridon: A glen is a narrow mountain valley, and Glen Torridon is one of the Highlands' wildest and most spectacular glens, located on the western coast at the village of Torridon. * Dunnet Head: This northernmost point of the Scottish mainland, looking out to the Orkney Islands, is the focal point of a ruggedly scenic region of high seaside cliffs and hidden coves, carved by the stormy North Sea.