Things We Are Not Taller Than: The Highlands, Scotland

This post is part of a series. You can read about the origins of our travel tradition here.

It was a dark and stormy day in the Scottish Highlands. Mist was lying low over the lochs. We were on the last bite of our haggis toastie. The damp was seeping through the windows, but in front of us we could finally spot it. The small island where three massive lochs meet. Eilean Donan.

Things We Are Not Taller Than: The Highlands, Scotland

Eilean Donan – Dornie, Scotland

Eilean Donan translates simply into “Island of Donan”, referring to a Celtic saint who was martyred in the 600s. The castle that stands on this island was built around the 13th-century, as an early fortification against the Vikings. It played a role in the Jacobite rebellions of the 1700’s, serving as a muster point for Spanish supporters of the Jacobites. The Royal Navy sent three frigates to bombard the castle—which held strong for three days. When the castle finally fell, the Navy destroyed it.

It remained in ruins until 1911, when Lt Colonel John Macrae-Gilstrap purchased the island. With a small team, he spent 20 years working with the original blueprints to restore the castle to her former glory.

Nowadays the castle has become famous for its role as a location in movies like The Wicker Man, Made of Honor, Highlander, and the 007 film, The World is Not Enough.

One of the standout moments of our visit to Eilean Donan came near the end, after we’d taken our Things We Are Not Taller Than shot. As we prepared to cross back over the bridge, the reedy sound of a bagpipe filled the air, distorted through the low fog. It was eerie and a bit ethereal—everything I’d hoped Scotland would be.