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Wanted: Your stories about the Highlands!Inspired by coasts and coastlines?Stunning place to broaden the mind

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Kilt Rock, Skye. ©Ian Smith/VisitScotland.
Kilt Rock, Skye. ©Ian Smith/VisitScotland.

THE search continues to find out what sums up the ‘Spirit of the Highlands’.

If someone was visiting our area for the first time, what one thing would you want to tell them about the Highlands and its people?What makes this place special?

There’s lots that’s good about living here –the scenery, the warm, friendly people, the vivid colours we see as we move through the seasons each year and our weather, including the distinctive light that it brings come rain or shine, summer or winter.

Perhaps it’s the land around us, offering a wealth of outdoor activities to temp us outdoors? Or to inspire our creativity?

Maybe you would say that the fresh, delicious food and drink found in all corners of the Highlands is what makes it special for you? Or is it our heritage, making us proud of this unique place? You might highlight a special place you like to visit or that you hold dear to your heart? Or perhaps the warm welcome that awaits, no matter whether its kith and kin or people we are meeting for the first time? Other sights, sounds and smells particular to your favourite place? All of these …and more…?

Anyone who knows and loves the Highlands is being urged to get involved and contribute a story about what sums up the ‘Spirit of the Highlands’.

These stories will form the basis of online content and will be interpreted within the newly transformed Inverness Castle visitor attraction when it opens, to encourage people to visit and to explore the Highlands and to find out more about our extraordinary and unique area.

The stories will be available to everyone and will be used in different ways to attract people to find out about the Highlands and to plan a visit in the future; online, in print and through events and education projects.

We live in an extraordinary part of the world, rich in stories that make us laugh, cry or gasp in wonder, that inspire and thrill us, that make us think and make us ceilidh. Whichever part of the Highlands you are in, these stories reflect who we are and how we live our lives.

Everyone who lives, visits and works in the Highlands will have an opportunity to get involved in creating the story to be told through ‘Spirit of the Highlands’ and can be about our past, the present or the future. Tell us your story in up to 350 words or upload a photograph or short audio/video file that tells the story for you.

Everyone has a story to tell, including you, so get involved now by going online at www.spiritoftheHighlands.com and sharing it.

Dornoch Sands. ©Paul Tomkins/VisitScotland.
Dornoch Sands. ©Paul Tomkins/VisitScotland.

FOR Kelly Morrison, project officer at West Highland College UHI’s Centre for Recreation and Tourism Research, it is the coasts and coastlines which sum up the Spirit of the Highlands.

She said: “The coasts and coastlines of the Highlands have shaped and influenced the lives, livelihoods and leisure activities of both communities and visitors to the area.

“There are many ways to explore the coastal spots and beautiful stretches of sandy coastlines, from surfing, paddleboarding, canoeing and kayaking, to wild swimming, coasteering, surfing, sailing, fishing and, of course, coastal walking.

“The coast, in all elements, also provides a source of cultural and creative inspiration, with rugged seascapes and awe-inspiring moments of connection with nature and geology.

“For those who enjoy exploring history and heritage, the coastline also offers a chance to discover intriguing tales of coastal fortresses, archaeological sites, and maritime trails, including the numerous lighthouses across the highland coastlines.

“The Coast that Shaped the World is a project led by the University of the Highlands and Islands, focusing on the maritime heritage of the West Coast of Scotland.

The project is funded through NatureScot’s Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund and match-funded by West Highland College UHI and CalMac Ferries. This is also a story gathering and sharing project, and is another way to submit stories or memories you have of the west coast – visit coast.scot.”

Share your thoughts on what the Spirit of the Highlands means to you

Crown Primary School pupils at Inverness Castle. ©Alison White Photography/The Highland Council.
Crown Primary School pupils at Inverness Castle. ©Alison White Photography/The Highland Council.

WHAT does the spirit of the Highlands mean to you? Is it learning and education? Is it innovation and research?

Amanda MacMillan, of the University of the Highlands and Islands, said: “For some it might be the opportunity to learn from where you live, to find a place to study and work that feels like home, or is home throughout the Covid-19 situation!

“The Highlands’ unique natural environment, communities, culture and heritage offer the inspiration to create, experience and enjoy distinctive learning experiences.

“With its cultural, geographical and physical landscapes, the Highlands provide a stunning and inspirational background, for people to find and follow their own unique path of study in a full range of topics; from science, health, engineering and technology, to the arts, humanities, education and tourism.

“Tens of thousands of further and higher education students follow their own academic path by studying through a wide range of further and higher academic opportunities here in the Highlands each year, and many of them through the largest learning community in Scotland, the University of the Highlands and Islands.

“It’s no secret that the university’s approach has inspired much innovative thinking, created new business ideas and contributions to world-class research both recently and throughout our history!

“For many people studying in the Highlands, online teaching is already part of their learning experience; with the university’s partnership of colleges and research institutes experienced at delivering courses in this way.

“This strength offers a great way for those people to get to know and love the Highlands and contribute to our future, whether they choose to study on campus, online or through a combination of both.

“We are living in a time when learning from the past has never been so important.

“Why not take this opportunity to tell your story on what the spirit of the Highlands means to you via www.spiritoftheHighlands.com

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

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