Local traditions and culture in Highland

  • Inverness Highland Games, July 2009
    Inverness Highland Games, July 2009
    by JessH
  • Peat cuttings
    Peat cuttings
    by nani80
  • Peat cuttings
    Peat cuttings
    by nani80

Most Viewed Local Customs in Highland

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    Use of peat as an energy source

    by nani80 Written Jan 24, 2012

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    If you have visited Highlands in the summer, you have probably noticed the narrow stripes in bog, and piles of peat blocks lying around the stripes. I've seen so many of them, especially in Caithness, and I didn't have a clue what it could be used for. The answer is quite logical, but I don't think I would ever think of it.

    With the absence of coal and wood, peat was used as an energy source (mainly for heating) in Scotland. Just as coal, peat contains the energy of the dead plants, only it burns faster than coal, providing more heat. The peat is cut in narrow strips (usually in May and June) and stacked in small pyramides to dry during the summer. The deeper the cut is, the densest the peat, which also means it will burn longer and hotter than the peat from the surface. Peat is still cut in some areas, although not nearly as comon as it was a century ago.

    You might also like the information that the peat is used in whisky distilleries to create a distinctive smokey flavour.

    Peat cuttings Peat cuttings

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    HIGHLAND CATTLE

    by Pixiekatten Updated Dec 16, 2006

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    The highland breed of cattle has a long and distinguished ancestry, not only in its homeland of western Scotland, but also in many far-flung parts of the world. One of Britain's oldest, most distinctive, and best known breeds, with a long, thick, flowing coat of rich hair and majestic sweeping horns, the Highlander has remained largely unchanged over the centuries. Written records go back to the 18th century and the Highland Cattle Herd Book, first published in 1885, lists pedigrees since that time.

    It is on the vast areas of poor mountain land with high annual rainfall and bitter winds that Highland Cattle thrive and breed where no other cattle could exist Making the most of poor forage, calving outside and seldom, if ever, housed they make a real economic contribution to hill and upland areas. The breed is exceptionally hardy with a natural and unique ability to convert poor grazing efficiently. They are remarkable for their longevity: many Highland cows continue to breed to ages in excess of eighteen years having borne fifteen calves.

    Highland cattle can be very friendly (like the one on the pic) and it is tempting to pet their furry heads. JUST BEWARE OF THEIR HORNS!!!

    A highland ku
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    The Story of the Bard & the Polish connection

    by scottishvisitor Written Sep 5, 2006

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    If you walk along the shore line at Arisaig you will come to a steep path going uphill leading to the old cemetary and Church of St. Mary's. It was here we met the two cute dogs and the Priest's housekeeper out for a walk. After chatting a while she told us of Alasdair MacMhaighstir known as Am Bard Ainmeil = the great Gaelic Poet who is buried here in the churchyard. We visited the little church to see its lovely but lonely stained glass window and the picture of Our Lady of Kozielsk the little shrine picture was given to the Church by the people of Poland to commemorate the comradship shared between the British and Polish forces in WWll. I'm glad we took the time to chat to a local and learn something new which is not in any guide book.
    Interestingly the cattle grid is not for cattle at all but put there to stop the deer from munching all the plants and destoying the old cemetary.

    The old Chaple Ruins The Resting Place The Church's Only Stained Glass Window The Cattle Grid - but not for Cattle!! The Father was away but the dogs were home
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    Have a chat with the locals

    by scottishvisitor Updated Sep 3, 2006

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    I finally got to meet a Highland Cow on the road from Fort Augustus to Glengarry. After driving by and spotting him, we turned the car on a track and drove back a mile or so to say hello to this charming little fellow. He was so tame, he let us stroke his golden locks and seemed so proud of himself. Unlike other cattle who are known as a herd the Highland cattle are known to belong to a fold. They were once called Kyloes, a lowland Scots word taken from Kye meaning cow. I prefer their local name of Hielan Coos. The second picture shows a much bigger Highland Cow this time he is black and not so friendly. He kept stamping the ground as he eyed us from a far, so I wasn't going into the field to get a closed shot! The black one was seen on our journey home far from the Highlands

    The Darling Hielan Coo Honey Honey!! This one was much bigger
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    A String of Coincidences

    by scottishvisitor Updated Aug 28, 2006

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    The village of Fort Augustus originally got its name from the gaelic language named after a Church dedicated to Cille Chumien = St. Cumimein. After the less famous Jacobite Rebellion of 1715 George ll built a fort here and named it after his son Augustus, ironically his son turned out to be no other than The Duke of Cumberland who crushed the Jacobite rebellion in 1745 at Culloden. He set up his headquarters in Fort Augustas a quarter of a century later. Today Fort Augustus is missed by many as they travel the Great Glen, but it is a very pretty place to stop and shop, enjoy the lovely river views, the quaint housing and the great story of the first concrete construction bridge in the U.K. - the old railway bridge which was dismantled during WWll to turn the iron tracks into ammunition. What a great string of coincidences and history turning back on itself!

    Row of Cottages from a bygone time The Little Mill Shop which once was a Church Great River Views with a Flower Pot Man The Bridge dismantled for the War Effort
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    Highland Fling

    by globetrott Written Aug 17, 2006

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    There is a dancing competition as well on every Highland-game and these girls and the jury really takes it all very serious...

    ...these tradional steps follow very strict rules
    It seems to be a great honnor to win these competitions, as you may see the concentration in this girl's face...

    ...and I did not take a pic of all the participants, crying after having seen the notes they got by the jury

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    Highland Games -> Tug of War

    by globetrott Written Aug 17, 2006

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    Tug of War is another common competition that you will see on every Highland Game !
    Get yourself a schedule of all the highland-games in Scotland, while you are in Edinburg.
    and maybe you better ask at the desk, wether your highlandgame of choice is a traditional one or rather a local festivity, that is interesting in a certain way, but rather looks like a school competition...
    The most famous Highland Games are the ones from Braemar, where the Queen will mostly be umong the visitors and Blair Atholl.

    Highland Games -> Tug of War
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    Highland Games -> Tossing the Caber

    by globetrott Written Aug 17, 2006

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    Highland Games are held mainly during the summer season, and not only locals take part in the competion, but also sportsmen from other countries...

    ...but most of those have some problems with typical Scottish sports like "Tossing the Caber" and others
    This large and heavy piece of wood need NOT TO BE THROWN A BIG DISTANCE, but :

    It has to be thrown in a way, that the side you hold has to go up the air, the other part has to touch the ground and the whole wood has to fall over in a straight way, that is as close as possible to 12.00 o'clock on the watch...

    ...sounds complicated...

    ...and it is even MUCH MORE COMPLICATED to do...

    Highland Games -> Tossing the Caber Highland Games -> Tossing the Caber
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    Skye > Kilmuir Museum of Rural Life

    by globetrott Written Aug 17, 2006

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    Kilmuir Museum of Rural Life is a museum just a few Km north of Uig at the Isle of Skye and it shows some of the so called " black houses " - straw-thatched farmouses of the ordinary population without a single window, it just had a low entrance-gate and a chimney , and it was not only dark inside, everything was also covered by a thick layer of soot and your eyes are burning because of the smoke, when entering these houses. The museum shows also plenty of machineries of the local farms .
    Flora MacDonald, a national Scottish Heroine is buried nearby and a high-cross shows the place, where she was burried.
    I took this pic during another vacation, already with my new motorhome - much smaller and 4x4 drive for the muddy roads of Scotland

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    Puffins - the clowns of the seas

    by globetrott Written Aug 17, 2006

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    Puffins could be found at many places in Scotland, the best places to watch them are Lunga and Handa. Puffins have their characteristic colors only during the summer and will loose these colors in august, when their young ones are big enough to care for themseves.
    They might even totally leave the island, according to some infos I heard on TV once.
    So when you get there in autumn, you better ask the people selling the tickets for the boat-trips, whether the puffins are still there !!
    For pictures like this you will need a special lens like my 5,6 / 400mm APO lens, that is mostly twice as expensive than a good camera. The smallest distance to take pics is 4 meters and only the object will be sharp when you use the lens-opening of 5,6.
    It was great fun to see these little birds, walking up and down in front of their living-holes, watched by plenty of people.
    They will not take any food, you offer them...
    Watch Puffins while they fly and land...it looks great, as long as they are flying, but whenever they are landing it looks so strange, like they still have to practize...

    Puffins - the clowns of the seas Puffins - the clowns of the seas Puffins - the clowns of the seas Puffins - the clowns of the seas Puffins landing
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    watch out for the animals when driving

    by globetrott Written Aug 17, 2006

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    This is a funny sign, that I found on a small side-street, leaving the mainroad to the Isle of Skye in Shiel Bridge. I am not sure, maybe it is just a joke, BUT I saw many sheep in Scotland beeing quite excentric and reacting in a way, a tourist would not expect.
    Many of them sit next to the street and would not run away, when I come with my large Mercedes-motorhome, passing by them with quite some speed in a distance of just 20 cm, I had a look back in the mirror and could see, they remained totally un-aware of the situation and danger.
    At the other hand I saw young lambs, running in panik, trying to jump over a fence, although I stopped my car.
    Once in the island of Mull I thought I found a perfect place for wild camping with my motorhome and a large group of sheep gathered at the other side of the fence and started to bleek, untill I thought it is better to leave again.
    In Quairang / Isle of Skye I once thought I had found a perfect place to spend the night, where the wind would not affect me, BUT the sheep used to take over the same place some hours later, and when they saw me, they started to scream and shout, untill I left...

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    The right of way

    by globetrott Written Aug 17, 2006

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    In other countries there might be restrictions when hiking on private land, in Scotland, and especially in the wide highlands hikers will be granted the so-called "right of way" all over Scotland :
    By law everybody has the right to walk through Scotland, including all the pastures, meadows and the wild land without paths. You may open the gates, where-ever you find them (and have to close them again of course). This right does not include the possibility for wild camping, it simply means, you may walk through everywhere !!!

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