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Magical, mystical, mysterious; the Scottish Highlands won’t leave you cold.

The Scottish Highlands may not be your first choice as you flick through the summer editions of this year’s holiday brochures, dreaming of sun, sea and sand. But if you’re looking for a laid-back, inspiring holiday, off the well-trodden tourist track, there’s arguably nowhere better. Home to deep lochs, Britain’s highest mountain Ben Nevis, and hills which provided refuge for Rob Roy and Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Highlands are not only the perfect place for nature lovers and outdoor sports enthusiasts, but also a fascinating destination for families with an interest in history.

Head for Fort William, originally the fortifications built by Oliver Cromwell and named after William of Orange, on the ScotRail train (www.scotrail.co.uk) from Glasgow. The journey takes three and a half hours and takes you through breathtaking scenery. Visit the town’s West Highland Museum and view excellent exhibits, including the ‘secret portrait’ of Bonnie Prince Charlie. Then catch the Jacobite Steam Train to Mallaig (www.westcoastrailways.co.ok) and enjoy every magical moment. The kids will love the fact that the trains were the ones used as 'Hogwarts Express' in the Harry Potter movies. If you’re happy to take to the water, Crannog Cruises (crannog.net/cruises.asp) offers a 90 minute cruise along Loch Linnhe. There’s a lot to be said for signing up for a Highland fling!

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