From lonely rocky outcrops to dark and mysterious forests, Scotland is a land of extremes.
We explore some of the coldest, hottest, wettest and most remote parts of the country.
Scotland’s fickle summer months are almost here and with them will (hopefully) come some much needed sunshine and warmth.
The highest temperature ever recorded in the country was 32.9°C at Greycrook, just outside the Borders town of St Boswells on 9 August 2003.
In the last five years the mercury has risen above 30°C on just three occasions. In July 2013 the private Perthshire school, Strathallan, recorded a sizzling 31.1°C and Kircudbright in Dumfries and Galloway hit 30.5°C, while in 2012 the west Highland town of Inverailort reached 30.9°C.
But if you’re after consistently warm days then the Scottish Borders and Stirling are where you need to be. The Met Office found that between 1981-2010 the town of Kelso had the highest average temperature in the months of June, July and August at 19.6°C. Following just behind was Stirling with a mean summer temperature of 19.5°C.
Scotland is spared the freezing winters found in countries of similar latitudes like Russia and Sweden, thanks to the warm Gulf Stream air current which heats the British Isles.
However, sometimes the temperature hits Siberian levels.
The UK’s lowest recorded temperature of -27.2C, was recorded at Altnaharra in the Highlands on 30 December 1995 an accolade it shares with Braemar in the Grampians which recorded the same temperature in 1982.
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With readings similar to the world’s remotest places, the International Dark Skies Association (IDSA) found Galloway Forest Park as Scotland - and the UK’s - darkest place. A perfect spot for star-gazers.
If you’re desperate for UV rays one of the best places in Scotland to visit is the island of Tiree. The most westerly island in the Inner Hebrides, Tiree holds the record in Scotland for the maximum amount of sunshine in a calendar month. It had 329 hours Tiree in May 1946.
The title of Scotland’s sunniest city is disputed between Aberdeen and Dundee, with both east coast cities receiving above average levels of sunshine.
In recent years Aberdeen has come out on top but historically Dundee has basked in the sunshine more than any other city. We’ll call it a tie!
There are several competitors for the title of wettest place in the country, many of them remote.
Glenshiel Forest, in Ross-shire, recorded 3778 millimetres (mm) of rainfall in a year, almost 150 inches, making it the wettest place in the UK less than 200m above sea level.
The Highland estate of Dalness, in scenic Glen Etive, is drenched by an average of 3300mm each year. Dry days here are far outnumbered by rainy ones.
Most remote inhabited island
Around 790 islands of varying sizes are littered around Scotland’s coastline. The most isolated archipelago is St Kilda, 100 miles off Scotland’s mainland and a Unesco World Heritage Site for nature, but St Kilda has long been abandoned.
The 55 hardy souls who live on Fair Isle lay claim to living on the most remote inhabited island in the UK. Situated halfway between Orkney and Shetland, the island is desperately seeking new inhabitants to keep the isle populated.
Smallest inhabited island
How does having your own island sound? There are only a handful of Scottish islands that can lay claim to having one, sole inhabitant. The smallest of these is Inner Holm, a tiny outcrop of land, less than two hectares in area, that sits in Orkney’s Stromness harbour. A house lies on the island and at the time of the last census (2011) was home to one person.
Out Stack in the Shetland islands is considered Scotland and the UK’s most northern spit of land. It is an uninhabited craggy outcrop that lies 1.8 miles from Shetland’s Unst, the most northerly populated island in Scotland. If you were to keep going north from Out Stack you wouldn’t find anything solid until you reached the frozen waters of the Arctic Ocean.
Nestled in the south west corner of Dumfries and Galloway is the Mull of Galloway, Scotland’s most southerly point. Wildlife in the area is abundant and the Mull of Galloway claims to be one of the best places in the UK to view dolphins, porpoises and many sea birds.
The Shetland Islands not only have the country’s most northern point but also its most eastern. Bound Skerry is part of the Shetland’s Out Skerries group which lie closer to Norway than mainland Scotland. The family of legendary Scots novelist, Robert Louis Stevenson, are said to have paid for the construction of a lighthouse on the outcrop.
Nearly 300 miles of the Scottish coast lies Rockall, a solitary rock in the middle of the north-east Atlantic. While it has been debated if the 25 metre wide rock is really substantial enough to be owned by anyone given its remote location, the British government have historically been more than happy to claim it. The UK Parliament went as far as creating the Island of Rockall Act in 1972 to formalise ownership. This didn’t go down well with the Irish. who rejected the 12-mile sea territory the British erected around Rockall.
And yes, it’s Scottish, being officially ‘administered’ by the Isle of Harris.