Produced by The Local’s Creative Studio in partnership with Highland TitlesAre These Celebrities Descendants of Scottish Clans? | Highland Titles

 How to become a Lord or Lady 

(and help save the Scottish Highlands)

The Highland Titles Nature Reserve from above, Video: Highland Titles

Imagine it: You’re standing on a gently sloping hillside, looking out on a majestic snow-capped mountain ridge. The morning air is crisp, the subtle scent of heather mixing with the earthy peat. These are the Scottish Highlands – and you own a part of it, as a Laird (Lord) or Lady.

For centuries, the Scottish Highlands were under the stewardship of Lairds, landowners who would manage their estate for farming, hunting and fishing.

These Lairds, drawn from the Highland clans, have become part of Scottish tradition and folklore, inspiring books and TV shows such as ‘Outlander’ and ‘Rob Roy’ (based on the life of the Scottish outlaw). 

Together with Highland Titles, we show you how you can join their ranks, while contributing to the conservation of the Scottish Highlands, restoring the countryside and bringing back vital native species

an osprey on the hunt, in flight with a fish caught in a lake in northern finland

   An osprey snatches a fish from a loch. Photo: Getty Images

Salachan Burn bubbles and flows. Photo: Highland Titles

Lords and Ladies of Glencoe

Devoted to preserving the unspoiled, wild beauty of the Highlands, the family-run Highland Titles hit upon the idea of utilising a unique aspect of Scottish law.  In exchange for purchasing a small plot of land – as small as one square foot – buyers could legally term themselves a Lord, ‘Laird’ or Lady of Glencoe. 

As Director Doug Wilson tells us: “Souvenir plots have been sold in the United Kingdom since at least 1971. Now, they’re only available in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

“You get what’s known as a personal right to a plot of land. It’s a valid and legal form of ownership that can be passed onto future generations.”

Since its establishment in 2007, Highland Titles has drawn customers from Australia, the United States and all over the world, keen to take on a title and own a piece of the Highlands.  

Positive publicity from around the world allowed Highland Titles to expand to own four other properties in the surrounding area, which are now being returned to a wild and natural state.

The majesty of the Scottish Highlands, seen from the Highland Titles Nature Reserve. Photo: Highland Titles

Guardians of the Glen

From the beginning, sustainable conservation of the Glencoe region was at the forefront of Highland Titles’ dreams for growth – and one that Wilson knew would take years to make a reality.  “Conservation is frustratingly long-term,” he says.

Access paths had to be built into the reserves, fences built and native plants and wildlife reintroduced. It was, by no means, something achieved overnight and without the help of many volunteers.

Yet, since its founding, Highland Titles has managed to re-establish populations of  osprey, squirrels and hedgehogs within its reserves. It even runs a hospital for injured hedgehogs, that is assisting in their repopulation efforts. 

Trail cameras regularly catch deer, foxes, squirrels and other mammals and bird life making the nature reserves their home, and the company continuously consults its property owners – that is to say, the Lairds and Ladies of Glencoe – on what species should be prioritized next in their conservation efforts.

A red squirrel enjoys a snack in the Highland Titles Nature Reserve. Video: Highland Titles

“I genuinely believe we sell the most engaging gift in the world.”

An ongoing investment

Engagement with their community of landowners is at the core of Highland Titles’ every day operations.

“I genuinely believe we sell the most engaging gift in the world,” says Wilson of its land ownership offerings.

“There’s not another company like us that converses so often and so well with our customers.

“We meet thousands of people every year at the nature reserve, and we hold the Highland Gathering, a two-day event.

“We get people who can’t believe what we’re doing. A few year ago we showed two people up to their plot and gave them a tour. 

“They were dumbfounded and asked us ‘How can you do this? We gave you £30 ten years ago!’”

Lords, Lairds or Ladies can visit the Highland Titles Nature Reserve at Duror, near Glencoe and be shown their plot at any time. Volunteers will help them find their plot, and show them the progress made possible by their support.

For those Lords and Ladies that decide to visit their plot, a number of local accommodation and service providers offer discounts to Highland Titles customers.

A gift that will last a lifetime

Becoming a Laird or Lady is easy on the Highland Titles website. Customers can choose to receive a luxury physical gift pack, or an eco-friendly digital gift pack that is proving to be an extremely popular option with last-minute shoppers and the environmentally conscious, as the digital pack is instantly available. With Christmas coming up, they make an ideal gift.

Whatever you choose, you can be sure the gift of land will last forever!


Germans in Scotland: How Brexit has changed their view of the UK

Brexit is not only causing concern among Brits in Germany – it also hugely affects Germans in the UK. The Local spoke to German students in Edinburgh to find out how they feel.

Germans in Scotland: How Brexit has changed their view of the UK
The British, Scottish and EU flags fly outside the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh. Photo: DPA

German Doner Kebab is a restaurant chain that does exactly what it says on the tin. The walls are bedecked with kitschy black-and-white photos of famous German sights: The Brandenburg Gate, Cologne Cathedral, Dresden, the Berlin Victory Column, and so on.

Yet this landmark-laden eatery is not set in the Bundesrepublik, but rather in Edinburgh, the Scottish capital city.

According to the UK Census, in 2011 there were 22,274 Germans living in Scotland. Five years after that census was taken, the United Kingdom narrowly voted to leave the European Union. 

Despite voting by 62% to remain in the EU, Scotland has no choice but to follow its southerly neighbour out the door. How do Germans residents in Scotland feel now that Brexit is finally coming to pass on Friday?

On a Thursday evening in January,  a group of students from the University of Edinburgh meet up at German Doner Kebab on Lothian Road - a meetup they have dubbed Dönerstag.

This is German Society, a mixture of native German speakers and learners of the language. They organize events such as flat crawls, academic talks and screenings of Germany’s answer to John Oliver, the heute-show.

We tuck into our meals; on my right is Thomas, an Economics student from Potsdam near Berlin and the group’s treasurer. Across the table is Jan, who is here on an exchange semester and is also from Potsdam. Eva, the society’s academic secretary who is from Bonn and is also studying Economics; and Lara, who is from London and is studying French and Spanish. They are all 21, with the exception of Lara, who is 20-years-old and has a German father.

The fact that they wouldn’t have to pay any tuition fees was a big incentive to study in Scotland. Thomas also liked that a Scottish Bachelor’s degree is four years instead of three: “I wanted to have dorm life in my first year, you don’t really have that in Germany.” 

Eva adds: “The degree here is a lot more flexible, you get more options.” The range of clubs and societies was attractive, too. Jan was keen to be in an English-speaking country in order to practice his English skills. 

Would they recommend studying here? “10 out of 10!” Thomas enthuses.

READ ALSO: Can Brits still move to Germany after Brexit day?

Thomas and Lara in Edinburgh. Photo: Chris Dobson

It was a surprise’

Marvin is a 28-year-old PhD student at the University of Glasgow, originally from Essen. He came to Scotland in September 2018 and has found Glaswegians to be “welcoming and open”. 

He’s a member of Glasgow European Society and enjoys the university’s “international bubble”. In addition to friends and colleagues from around the world, Marvin now has a boyfriend in Edinburgh.

When asked about Brexit, Marvin – who is researching Economic and Social History – takes a long time to think. “It was a surprise but I wouldn’t say it was a shock,” he finally responds.

“In Germany, British politics had the reputation to be straight to the point, to be able to make compromises, to concentrate on the facts, and I think that reputation is gone. Now British politics is seen as something ridiculous.” 

Marvin says that he would respect the right of the Scottish people to self-determination, but he is sceptical whether the Conservative UK government would allow this.

‘Quite detached’

Has Brexit changed their perception of Scotland and the UK? Actually, Thomas remarks that he is surprised how little people talk about it. 

Eva comments: “I feel like the whole university community is quite detached from it.” When I ask what their thoughts are on Brexit, they reply that they are “100 percent” against it. “Everybody in Germany thinks that the UK made a major mistake,” Thomas says.

READ ALSO: Brexit will shift the EU's new centre to a German village of 80

“You can see that quite a lot in the way the media talks about it,” comments Eva. “It’s obviously not what they should be doing.”

Lara is a bit more concise: “I think it’s a shitshow. Nothing has happened in politics for three years. Let’s get on with it and let something else happen.”

“All the negotiations have been annoying people as well,” adds Thomas. “If you want to be out, leave.”

They express scepticism about Scottish independence, but also sympathy. “I think it’d be great for Scotland but I don’t know how well Scotland could hold up for itself,” Thomas says.

Despite sharing Thomas’ doubts about an independent Scotland’s sustainability, Lara declares: “I would be in favour. Just because England fucked up doesn’t mean Scotland must.”

Whereas in England Lara, who is half-German, has experienced some anti-German sentiment, in Scotland the students have received a warm welcome. 

“There are so many international students,” Thomas says with evident delight. “It’s such a normal thing to meet people from different cultures and countries.”

The German Doner Kebab restaurant, where the group met on a Thursday evening. Photo: Alexandra Person

‘Always something new’

Thomas doesn’t even mind the Scottish weather, and he likes that Edinburgh is “small enough that you know your way around and can get to places easily but it’s not too small where you always go to the same thing.”

Jan agrees: “You always find something new and exciting.” Lara says that she likes how walkable the city is: “You can walk everywhere.”

Just as Berlin isn’t the be-all and end-all of Germany, Edinburgh isn’t the only side to Scotland. Forty miles to the west is Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city. 

Although he continues to be baffled by the lack of double-glazing in some houses, Marvin says he would definitely recommend Glasgow to other Germans, although if they’re from a city like Munich which is known for its history and culture, they might prefer Edinburgh.

Marvin adds that he enjoys a deep-fried Mars bar, making him right at home in Scotland.