The Highlands inspire visions of craggy peaks and windblown valleys, of hardy towns beneath glimmering snow-topped mountains, and – of course – mirror-like lochs. Welcome to one of the great wildernesses of the UK, which dominates more than half of Scotland, rising with the Grampian Mountains and the needle-like spires of Skye, running all the way to lonely Orkney in the North Sea. Booking a cottage here means booking a real escape to nature. Use this guide for hints and tips on what to expect from your bolthole in the hills.

Where you'll find cottages in Highlands and Islands

The Highlands region is often coupled together with the archipelagos that splinter off from Scotland into the icy North Sea. That extends the area as far as the Shetland Isles, which are almost closer to Norway than they are to Inverness. Here are just 3 places where you can expect to find comfy cottages to launch your wild adventure.

West Highland cottages for walkers

The West Highland Way is the track that magnetises serious walkers to the areas north of Glasgow. In all, the trail runs for 96 miles, linking the cities and the Lowlands with the Great Glen. The reward at the end is a sighting of Ben Nevis – the highest summit in the UK – above Fort William, not to mention a whole host of enticing cottage stays.

Highland holiday homes on the isles

If you're pining to see the untamed seas of Scotland, then you might want to consider searching for your cottage on an island. There are many to pick from in the region, with popular places like Skye coming with plenty of homes near wonderful hiking spots such as the Quiraing and spiked Storr peaks. Feeling really intrepid? Think about hopping on the overnight ferry out to the Shetland Isles. They are the remotest in Britain, with the barely trodden beaches of the islands of Yell and Unst.

Aviemore cottages for an adventure in the Cairngorms

The Cairngorms National Park is often hailed as the jewel of the Highlands. It's packed with peaks that soar above 1,000 metres, making it some of the most high-altitude terrain in the country. The gateway to it all is the town of Aviemore. You'll find outdoorsy outfitters there, along with ski shops keen to suit up sportsters who have their hearts set on the Scottish slopes at Glenshee and CairnGorm Mountain.

Various styles of Highland cottages

There's no hard and fast rule about what Highland cottages should look and feel like. They actually cover a whole range of styles and designs. Here are just 3 examples of the sorts of places you can expect to find when searching for your bolthole in the peaks.

Search for log cabins in the Highlands

One style of Highland cottage that always captures the attention of adventurers is the log cabin. You'll find them dotting the lonely fells and glens, with stove warmers for heat and real frontier-style architecture that merges almost organically with the environment all around.

Luxury Highland holiday homes

Going to the depths of Scotland's hinterland doesn't have to mean leaving behind the luxuries of home. In fact, there are plenty of places that ooze class and style. A sprawling kitchen space with a huge dining table or a crackling log fire in a sumptuous lounge are just the start. You could also find plush master bedrooms with sweeping views of Loch Lomond, along with al fresco patios that have panoramas over the shores of Skye.

Highland cottages with a hot tub

Scotland's certainly not the balmiest corner of the UK, which is why a Highland cottage with a hot tub could seem like a truly welcome prospect. That, and the fact you're likely to be doing a lot of hill walking, loch swimming and even skiing – those post-exercise muscles will thank you for adding in a spa bath.

What travellers love Highland holiday homes

For a family adventure or an intrepid hiking excursion, Highland cottages can surely tick the boxes. Versatile, hardy and cosy, all at the same time, these sorts of country accommodation can host a whole range of globetrotters.

Dog walkers can bring Fido to Highland cottages

If you simply can't bring yourself to deny that 4-legged family member a chance to lay their paws between the mud and thistles of Scotland's mountains, pet-friendly Highland cottages can help. They let at least one pup stay for the duration of your trip, though will often ask for a surcharge to be paid.

Mountaineers flock to Aviemore cottages

With Aviemore sat on the doorstep of the Cairngorms National Park, it's hardly a surprise that mountaineers come in droves to the town's speckling of enchanting cottages, throughout the year. Plenty of boot shops line the main street with any equipment you may need. Then, it's out to scale Ben Macdui and Braeriach.

Romance is waiting in Highland holiday homes

Scotland's far-flung Highland cottages aren't just for the walkers and the outdoorsy types. They can also nurture a real romance. After all, getting cosy with your other half will never be easier than while storms rage outside and the real-wood fire crackles in the hearth.