West Highland Museum Trust logo

Highland Life

The Scottish Highlands as a region is now world famous for its extraordinary landscape and its appeal for travellers as a place for fresh air, down-to-earth hospitality, and a wealth of outdoor pursuits - from hill-walking and golf to white-water rafting and mountain-biking. Inverness on the east coast, for example, is in 2010 the fastest growing city in the United Kingdom, as people flock to take advantage of the many benefits living in the Highlands has to offer.

The interest in the Highlands as a destination of choice for tourists and house-movers is a relatively recent one, however. It was not until the Victorian era, when Victoria and Albert made frequent trips to Balmoral and visits to the Highlands became fashionable among Victorian society, that the area as a whole received much attention from tourists from other parts of the UK and beyond.

The rugged landscape and geographical isolation of much of the Scottish Highlands made it a relatively inaccessible place for much of its political and cultural history. With this, however, came the evolution of its own very unique traditions, cultural life, and folklore. Click an image for further details.

A firm hold

The museum displays a selection of objects from the Scottish Mountain Heritage Collection, including wooden and metal ice axes. The first all metal ice axe was made by Hamish MacInnes in the late 1940s. It was known as 'The Message'.

"The decision to put metal designs into commercial production was taken in the early 1960s after Hamish MacInnes found two broken wooden axes on Ben Nevis, where a party of two mountaineers were killed in a fall."
>

Ice axe

All metal ice axes are now used throughout the world. They revolutionised ice climbing tools and techniques. The axe pictured is an example of The MacInnes Massey, one of the first metal-shafted ice axes manufactured in Britain.