Best time to travel to Scotland

Heather in Scotland

Purple heather blooms on ornate open Scottish fields, heathlands, wetlands, and forests

Best time: July–September/October (best in August)

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Glorified in Scottish folklore, poetry, and songs, heather is already a part of local culture and is now strongly associated with Scotland. The often severe conditions of Scotland do not scare off the beautiful enduring plant, and it thrives equally well in damp and dry climates, survives cool temperatures, and infertile soils. Note that heather in Scotland comes in three types. The most widespread is common heather (Calluna vulgaris) with delicate pink flowers. Two other species are bell heather (Erica cinerea) with dark purple-pink or mauve and rarely also white bloom, and least found cross-leaved heath (Erica tetralix).

When does heather bloom in Scotland?

Scottish heather blooming season lasts from mid-summer through early-to-mid fall. The season differs slightly by the type. You can see common heather in bloom between July and October, and bell heather and cross-leaved heath—from July to September. The best month to enjoy lush heather fields across Scotland is August.

Where does heather grow in Scotland?

Heather is prevalent over vast swathes of Scottish landscapes in the west and north. This perennial evergreen shrub is found in Scottish wetlands, pine, birch, and oak forests, highlands, heathlands, dry fields, and large open areas. You can also come across heather on the exposed ground drawing back from sea cliffs.

Best heather fields in Scotland

There are lots of places to spot the blooming heather fields across Scotland. Discover breathtaking heathery landscapes close to Edinburgh on the Lammermuir Hills and Pentland Hills. Besides, these flowers thrive on exposed slopes up the coast from St Abbs at the Scottish border with Northern England. Another location is Mugdock Country Park close to Glasgow. In addition to coastal moorlands, the bloom also likes the woods around Cairngorms National Park, and especially near Boat of Garten. A great location to enjoy both common and bell heather flowers is Aird of Sleat on the Isle of Skye. Lastly, if you're looking for the unusual white bell heather, check out coastal Moray in the north-east of the country.

Marks in heather

No matter when you are visiting heather fields, there will be ticks in heather, so be cautious not to pick one up. Anyway, it's always better to find them on your body before they start sucking your blood, so after you leave, be sure to check yourself for any ticks that have decided to cling to your clothes or skin. Find out more information on how to deal with ticks in Scotland.

Things to do in Scotland during heather season

If you plan your getaway in August, consider also adding The Burry Man or Cowal Highland Gathering to your to-do list. Moreover, heather flowering time entirely overlaps with the berry season in Scotland. Also if you plan your adventures later in the season, you can also take advantage of the seafood season or go leaf peeping.

Practical info

What are the types of heather in Scotland?

Scotland has three main types of heather, namely common heather, bell heather, and cross-leaved heath. The common variety has delicate pink flowers and is mainly found across the country. Bell heather, the second most common, has mauve, dark purple-pink, and white blooms. The rarest, cross-leaved heath, grows pink and red flowers. Show more

What is the best time to visit Scotland to see heather in full bloom?

The most recommended period to experience the expanse of blooming heather across Scotland is between July and September/October. August is the optimal month for lush heather fields. While common heather blooms from July to October, bell heather and cross-leaved heath blossom between July to September. Show more

Where are the best locations to spot blooming heather fields in Scotland?

Several sites feature blooming heather fields in Scotland, including the Lammermuir and Pentland Hills close to Edinburgh, the Scottish border's St Abbs, Mugdock Country Park by Glasgow, Cairngorms National Park, Boat of Garten, Aird of Sleat on the Isle of Skye, and Moray on the northeast coast. Show more

Are there any precautions to take when visiting heather fields in Scotland?

Tick bites can be a significant concern when enjoying the heather fields, particularly between June and August. Tick bites are common and can raise health safety considerations. Visitors are advised to check themselves thoroughly for ticks before departing such areas. More information on tick bites in Scotland and how to manage them can be easily sourced online. Show more

What are some recommended activities to do in Scotland during heather season?

Scotland's heather season presents several opportunities for activity, complete with sightseeing the incredible heather fields. Any visitor traveling to Scotland can enjoy a variety of activities such as berry picking, attending The Burry Man or Cowal Highland Gathering, leaf peeping during the fall, or seafood tasting. These activities provide distinct experiences to make the visit unique and memorable. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin