Scottish Heather

posted in: Photography | 23
Scottish Highland Heather calluna vulgaris

Scotland not only is famous for the thistle but also for its Scottish heather that flowers in autumnCalluna vulgaris is a Scottish wildflower.  Calluna from the Greek ‘Kallune’ meaning ‘to clean or brush’. The twigs were used for making brooms and vulgaris from Latin, meaning ‘common’. It’s very hardy and each plant has a life expectancy of about 40-50 years. The plant also very resilient to the grazing from the roe deer, reindeer, rabbits, mountain hares, grouse, and cattle. Along with being the most favourite habitat of the infamous Scottish midge Culicoides impuctatus.

The Carpet of the Highlands

Heather growing along the Pinewoods of Glen Quoich
Scottish heather growing along the Pinewoods of Glen Quoich


Best time to see Scottish Heather

The best time to see the Scottish heather in bloom is at the end of August and the first few weeks of September.  But normally you have to go well off the beaten track to see it at its finest.  It carpets the highland landscape and can range in colours from lilac to purple.

Scottish heather Calluna vulgaris
“No’ a flow’r that man can gather. …can beat the bonnie, bloomin’ heather”


Our 16yr old spent last weekend in the remoteness and emptiness of the Eastern Cairngorm mountains. It was for his silver Duke of Edinburgh expedition.  Furthermore I asked him to take some photos so that I could share them here. These were all taken on an ipod touch until the battery expired.

Scottish heather Calluna vulgaris
“Land of the hill and heather, Land of the awful weather, Land where the midges gather – Scotland the brave”



Their mobile phones are taken away from them once the expedition commences. In fact parents have no contact over the whole weekend unless there is an emergency. They spent the long weekend camping outside Braemar along Glen Quoich and hiking to the summit of Creag Bhalg.  The area is in Aberdeenshire though it’s well to the east from where Alistair blogs from.

Scottish Highlands
In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. Psalm 95:4



Bathroom facilities are bringing a garden trowel, a roll of toilet paper and digging a hole.  Drinking water is provided from streams (boiled). Cooking is over a campfire and streams have to be crossed on foot. He still managed to take some lovely photographs despite hiking through the thunder and lightning most of Friday. Constantly battling with the clouds of blood thirsty Scottish midges. Especially when they got into the tent and avoiding the ticks .

Scottish Highlands Duke of Edinburgh silver medal Camp
No photos of August’s camp but this is was the camp on the practice weekend expedition in June



Here’s the Itinerary:

  • 1st Day  – Linn of Dee camping at Derry lodge.
  • 2nd Day – Glen Quoich via Creag Bhalg (668m Graham).
  • 3rd Day – Walk to Invercauld Bridge and a to visit Braemar Castle on Royal Deeside.
Views from the Graham Creag Bhalg Scottish Cairngorms
The views from the Graham Creag Bhalg over the Cairngorm mountains. Soon snow will cover these.


What’s a Munro, Graham and Corbett?

The Munros are the highest and finest of Scotland’s mountains. Sir Hugh Munro first catalogued these mountain tops and there are 283 in total.

The Corbetts are the equivalent mountains.  There are 221 in total with altitudes between 2500ft and 3000ft. While the Grahams, 224 in total are between 2000ft and 2500ft. Whilst smaller in stature many Corbetts and Grahams rival Munros for walking and climbing.


Well on Sunday evening he finally arrived home. As a result he had just a few blisters.  He was tired and hungry but had lots of tales to tell. He checked for ticks on his clothes and skin. Then he sat down to a very late Sunday dinner. The kit was washed and whatever I managed to get into that wash it turned every thing a blue colour. It wasn’t heather dye but 1 pair of trousers that was the culprit!

Follow Rosie Nixon:

Photography Tutor and Gardener

Rosie is a garden photographer, writer and nature lover. She enjoys soaking up nature and is easily distracted from doing the weeding by anything that flutters, flies, buzzes, creeps or crawls! She enjoys sharing the beauty of creation through her photography. Rosie has been featured on TV on BBC2's The Beechgrove Garden and she uses the outdoors as her natural light studio. Her work can be seen at one of Scotland's only photography galleries - Close Gallery, 4b Howe Street, Edinburgh.

Latest posts from

23 Responses

  1. Alistair

    Oh to be sixteen, I did much the same at that age, as well as a lot of other stuff which I wouldn't mention. Terrific pictures of one of Scotlands land of the awful weather, fortunately Aberdeen doesn't quite get the severity of the highland winter. Thanks for the mention Rosie.

  2. Gerry Snape

    wonderful photos of scotland and a brave mother as well as her son!
    Thankyou for such an interesting post.

  3. Ellie

    Wonderful pictures. Heather is lovely, a true carpet of colour. I always learn something when I come to your blog. Lol.

    My youngest is doing her gold Duke of Edinburgh in October. A bit late in the year I think but I'm sure she will manage. She has loved doing the bronze and silver. They get such a lot out of it. It is very good for them.

  4. A Garden of Threads

    Yours son took some great pictures. Love heather, it is such a beautiful plant and has many uses. Bought some heather jewelry, from Heather Gems, while visiting Scotland. Take care:)

  5. The Sage Butterfly

    I believe the first time I noticed heather was when I saw a movie filmed amid a field of heather. It went on and on. Thanks for showing some more heather fields…so lovely!!!

  6. Curbstone Valley Farm

    I remember doing a similar trip to the Brecon Beacons when I was about 10 years old, back before the age of cell phones, and being THRILLED to have no contact with my parents for the entire week! 😉 I hope he fun, goodness knows the scenery couldn't have been better, the photographs are stunning. I haven't seen a really good swath of heather in so many years. I'm definitely long overdue for a trip back to Scotland. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Gatsbys Gardens

    Great tour Rosie!
    I love the look of heather and did try to grow it here many years ago with no success. They even sell it as potted indoor plants here around the Easter holidays and probably others.

    It is lovely to see it in it's natural environment.


  8. Janet

    I took some similar photos today up Glen Esk ,in Angus.. One of my favourite times of year.

  9. Greggo

    When I was reading the post, it was if I was reading it with an Irish dialect. Fun! Very enjoyable.

  10. J. Witmer

    What the adventure! How wonderful that you can be a mother who lets her son go venturing. I hope to be so brave in 15 years!

    Thank you for sharing the photos. All I have to think about on that topic is the rather silly/romantic song from the musical Brigadoon, "The heather on the hill". I would love to see the real thing someday!

  11. kanak7

    Rosie, Scotland is truly beautiful! Loved going through these images and reading about your 16 year old's adventure. He did a great job with the photos. I really like your collage!

  12. Bom

    All great pics, Rosey! There's almost a painting like quality to the big shots of the fields. I really liked the images in your 3×3 arrangement.

  13. Jeri Landers

    I have always loved heath and heather, but never been able to keep it alive here in our horrid humidity. Scotland looks very wild, I can almost see Sir William Wallace walking over the top of those hills!

  14. Rebecca

    Hi Rosie,

    Thank you for leaving a comment on my blog. I had a great time stopping on the road and taking the pictures. The last picture of the creek was quite difficult, but I got it.

    You have a great blog. Looks like we have things in common. You said you would take pictures in brackets, what does that mean? Thanks, Rebecca.

  15. Andrea

    Hello Rosie how are you. I have been out for a while too. Thanks for letting us to your heathers and topographies which i always read but not seen,haha. I am sure you were also worried about your kid when away without communications. My niece is 15 and i often call to ask how she is, even if i am not the mother. Fortunately, their phones are allowed during camping, turned off only when in session. So i timed my calls or texts during meals. Thanks for your son's photos.

  16. Gail

    Your post and your son's photos made me smile. I think my attempts at pronouncing the mountain and area names would make you smile. gail PS My son had a similar experience during his gap year~It was life changing for my then 18 yr old.

  17. Pam's English Garden

    Dear Rosie, What a wonderful experience for your son! I shared his photographs with my husband who is proud to have Scottish heritage — lovely images. P. x

  18. Jayne

    That sounds like your son had a great experience Rosie, although I'm sure he could have done without the midges. Oh yes, I remember midges! Wonderful photos, to be sure.

  19. Heather

    I love this post! I've been lucky enough to see the fields of Heather on a trip to the UK once and it was at the end of August – beginning of September too. Looks like a fabulous place and your photos are lovely!


    What an amazing experience! The place looks awesome.
    The pictures are so beautiful, but I hsve fallen in love with the way you organiz¡se them in collages. Love them!