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September 26, 2021

Heather Season in Scotland

The image of rugged moorlands and glens splashed with purple heather is synonymous with summer and early autumn in Scotland. For many travelers, seeing the fragrant shrub in bloom is an iconic experience.

Heather (calluna vulgari) is found in many destinations in northern Europe and Asia but is most closely associated with Scotland, where it grows in abundance. Closely intertwined with Scottish culture, history and folklore, the iconic native plant is an enduring national symbol.

Heather been used for centuries in food, soaps, building (thatch roofs and ropes, for example), dyes for cloth and more. Long associated with good luck—ancient Scots believed it had magical properties—heather features in many Scottish weddings today, particularly the rarer white heather.

Many of our travelers enjoy tasting heather ale that has been brewed in Scotland for thousands of years and is still popular today. Another favorite is sampling artisanal heather honey, traditionally used as a medicine. Heather honey makes a delicious souvenir to bring home from time in Scotland.

Centuries of Scottish poetry, art and literature immortalize heather, including works by Sir Walter Scott, Robert “Robbie” Burns and Robert Lewis Stevenson. In the introduction to his respected biography of heather (The Heather in Lore, Lyric and Lay, published in 1903), the English botanist Alexander Wallace muses it would be impossible to find another plant “so instilled with romance, with patriotism and with pathos—as the Highland Heather.”

The best time to see heather is in the summer, when it dominates the landscape. The blooms peak in August, although you can still find patches on hillsides into September.

We take our travelers to the best places to see heather blooming in Scotland, including off-the-beaten-track locations in the countryside outside Edinburgh and renowned spots in the Scottish Highlands such as Cairgorms National Park. If desired, we can arrange for active touring in the green and purple landscapes.

Contact Artisans of Leisure to begin planning a private Scotland tour featuring the best of the country’s dramatic landscapes, cultural touring and luxury hotels.

Destinations:  Europe, Scotland, UK

Tags:  active tours, Cairngorms, countryside, flowers, heather, landscapes, private Scotland tours, Scotland, Scotland tours, Scottish heather, Scottish Highlands