Hip hop up to t

The Highlands have never really been at the cutting edge of cool as a holiday destinatic

When it comes to lingering some of the scapegoats (or the state of tourism in the Scottiin Highlands. there are a few reputations which deserve to rot. Samuel Johnson. for one. lot' inventing the grand tour ol~ the Highlands and Islands. then whinging all the way round. :\nd Sir Walter Scott. l'oi' ushering in the kilted kitschocracy. which we seem to have been wrapped in ever since. (iuys like these oh yes. and Queen Victoria too -- have lel't tis with a tourist industry a bit too much like our politics and our l'ootball team: it should be great. btit ends tip embarrassing tis.

.\'ow‘s the age ol cyber-ci'ol'ting. when roaming iii the gloaming is mostly done by mobile phone. btit most of the signs are that. come the internet revolution. those lined tip

along the wall aren't likely to he the owners of

woollen mills and purveyors of l'lul'ly wind-up haggis. (‘lick here for a screensaver in your very own ancestral tartan (Japanese surnames a speciality) or download a live webcam picture or the cake stand in Mrs McScone‘s l’ort William teai'oom.

So as word comes of a new 'yotith-

oi'iented‘ website produced by the Highlands of Scotland 'l‘ourist Board. the losel‘ (ioehels ol-

the purple hills 'n‘ glens regime. called wannabetherc.com. you’d he allowed to let a touch ol scepticism creep in. \Vaiinabethere’.’ It‘s not even in pseudo-Gaelic.

The problem with most travel websites is that while they‘re long on inl‘o. most are

122 THELIST 76 so to. 2300

vvoel'ully short on inspiration. All too often it‘s

an awl‘ul long way from a hard desk chair

watching a page download at tortoise pace to

sipping cocktails on Copacabana beach. ()r

(‘arnousiie beach. for that matter.

But for those who doubted that when the revolution came Strathpel‘l’er would be a hotbed. here‘s news. A hip. contemporary website from the Highlands. About the Highlands. About tourism though maybe not as we know it.

A bit of techno-Celtic music muscles otit ol

the screen-side speakers. A l'unky graphic presentation rolls otit motivational phrases and cool photos. You‘re in\'ited to consider the

potential ol’ the Highlands not as a string of

net-curtained B&Bs but as a happening place l'or lo- 35 year olds focusing on live alternative themes: adventure (Wild Heart). escape ((‘ool Heart). good-value deals (Happy Heart). partying (Pumping Heart). and romance (vaeet Heart).

The adventure is an obvious attraction lor the 'youl‘l" market btit with all that Scotland has by the way ol~ wild water. rugged rock. jagged ice and crashing waves. there‘s little doubt it's still an under-exploited resource. (‘onsider how many more people (and not just the target youth market) are likely to be excited about the wild Highlands by discovering that they can paraglide ol'l‘ Aonach .\lhor. or go dolphin spotting in the Sound ol‘ Sleat. or sail a traditional lishing skil‘l' round Rasaay.

Ten reasons why your heart should be in the Highlands

Airborne Action lake the gondola tip Aonath Mor beside Ben News, walk up to a prominent Stli'llll‘ifl nearhy, take in the Views, then Jtlllll) off (paraglider and someone who knows hoist." to use it lll( ludedi Raasay Castaway Awesome Views of the Ciillin from the Raasay Outdoor Centre's 250 year-old haronial mansion. Sail away on a traditionally built Levvis fishing skiff

Vertical Descents Ahseiliiig through a v~xaterfall wearing a wetsuit and one of those ‘I must be mad grins.

Rail Trail lvlake use of the stunning West Highland Railway Line With a Scotrail ticket allowing you to travel on any four out of eight consecutive days for £39.

Highland Fling Don’t let the tourists have all the fun. Get a hop-on-hop- oft ticket for only £85 With the Haggis Backpacker bus and get to places the locals don’t go.

Wild West Coast Watch whales from Rua Reidh lighthouse near