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Why My Heart is in the Highlands — Debbie Young

When I first visited the Highlands in 2000, with my new Scottish boyfriend, I couldn’t understand how at the age of 19 he had torn himself away from such a beautiful country to live in England. Although he came from Bannockburn, the site of the famous 1312 battle in Central Scotland at which the Scots thrashed the English, Gordon’s heart was in the Highlands, as the Robert Burns poem goes. Specifically, he was an aspiring Munro bagger. He had embarked on the very Scottish quest of climbing all 282 Scottish mountains over 3000 feet high, named after Sir Hugh Munro who’d first listed them all in 1891. 

Every summer holiday for the next twenty years, touring in various camper vans, we headed north of the border so that he could gradually tick them off his list. I was the designated driver of this support vehicle, dropping him off at the starting point for each mountain and picking him up many hours later at his designated finishing point. Meanwhile I’d take myself off for the day to explore. After a couple of years, our baby daughter came too. Over the years, we enjoyed many local attractions, including museums of Highland life (one of which makes inspired the museum featured in Murder in the Highlands), spectacular beaches, steam train rides (think Harry Potter) and loch cruises (one of these is in the new book too).  

Although I’m no climber, I have seen more of the Highlands than many Scots. I’ve grown to love their rugged, raw scenery; the pure, bracing air; the soft colours and hard rocks of the mountains and rolling moors. In the Highlands, I feel closer to nature, to history and to prehistory than anywhere else I’ve ever been. There’s a primeval quality to much of the scenery, and in some places the landscape is lunar. The space and isolation in this sparsely populated territory provide peace and tranquillity, but also a sense of danger and excitement.  

The relative isolation as you travel brings you closer to your travelling companions, so where better to send Sophie and Hector to take their relationship to the next stage, especially as her parents live in Inverness? To be honest, I planted them there at the start of the series, thinking it could be a great setting for a later instalment. 

As to my Scotsman – reader, I married him, in full Highland regalia. What was the outcome of Sophie and Hector’s romantic trip north of the border? You’ll have to read “Murder in the Highlands to find out!

Pick up your copy of Murder in the Highlands here:

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