FROM the stunning stretches of machair-edged white sands to the misty peaks of the Munros, where better to try and disconnect from this fast-paced world than the wilderness of the Highlands and Islands.

The thing is, though, in this high-tech era, no matter how remote a spot Scotland can offer, the urge still pops up to get our smartphones out of our pockets and connect with the world by taking a photograph of the stunning scenery around to share online. Indeed, it is almost a modern way of disconnecting, by going online to rejoice in it.

Search for tags such as ‘Highlands’, ‘Highlands and Islands’ or ‘West Highlands’ on Instagram – designed, of course, as a photo-sharing social networking site – and hundreds of thousands of results appear, many of them obvious choices.

But away from the views we all know so well, from Eileen Donan to the arches of Glenfinnan Viaduct, there are a raft of noteworthy ‘Instagrammable’ Highlands and Islands locations that lovers of Scotland just cannot get enough of.

If you are heading west anytime soon, do keep your camera to hand if you venture into any of these picturesque places this summer or instead, why not make a point of finding out what the fuss is about yourself.

Glencoe Lochan

When in Glencoe, it is an understandable knee-jerk reaction to look up toward the majesty of the mountains, but there is a little spot that is much-favoured on Instagram – slightly off-the-beaten track – that is well worth a visit. Although it is relatively remote, Glencoe Lochan, just north of the village, is hugely popular for pictures online; set in a tract of forest that was created in the 19th century by Scots philanthropist Lord Strathcona, to remind his Canadian wife of her homeland. In fact, the area around the lochan is often said to look like a miniature of Lake Louise in British Columbia. Various trails offer picnic tables and seats, all leading to what is a truly serene scene, with conifers and mountains all around. But it is the view from a little pontoon leading out on to the water that almost feels like a staging ground for the Pap of Glencoe in the distance. Ideal for a photograph – or feeding the ducks.

Loch Vaa Boathouse

Tucked away in what is seemingly a secluded spot but is in reality situated just off the A95 between Boat of Garten and Aviemore, this pretty loch is in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, popular for fishing, swimming and boating. And it is the traditional wooden boathouse itself, with its distinctive red roof, set on the north-west bank of the loch that captivates artists and photographers, professional and amateur, all keen to get the perfect picture of the colourful structure, which depending on how you look at it, is either reflected in the still loch or in wintry weather, seemingly frozen white against the ice covered rocky shore. It is a picturesque location amid the pine trees and can make a really evocative image. The easiest way to access it is to park near to Laggantygown Cemetery and follow a path that leads to the loch.

St Mary & St Finnan Catholic Church

Visitors to the hamlet of Glenfinnan on the famous Road to the Isles naturally swarm to the viaduct, which has reached an exalted level of fame due to its appearances on the silver screen in the Harry Potter movies, seeing boy wizard Harry flying over the iconic structure in a Ford Anglia as the Hogwarts Express puffs below. But just a few paces along the road sits the Catholic Church of St Mary and St Finnan, which must surely be one of the most strikingly beautiful churches that ever was, designed in the Gothic style by English architect E. W. Pugin, whose father designed the interior of the Palace of Westminster and the Elizabeth Tower which houses Big Ben. The church is in fact a memorial chapel to the MacDonalds of Glenaladale, the family with whom Bonnie Prince Charlie stayed prior to the raising of the Jacobite standard at Glenfinnan in 1745. Consecrated in 1873, the structure’s elevated position overlooking Loch Shiel offers a truly astonishing view from the grounds, but it is the view from within, looking out through the main door of the church, down over the loch and over toward the hills that is something else entirely; as though a doorway to another world.

The Old Boat of Caol

Nestled at the foot of Ben Nevis, visitors flood into Fort William from all over the world to soak up all of the many sights and adventures the Highland town – known as ‘the Outdoor Capital of the UK – has to offer, from the magnificent scenery, to the opportunity to venture to the top of the tallest mountain in Britain. But there is a hidden gem that is also something of a lure for many – the Old Boat of Caol, also known as the Corpach Wreck. The boat is actually the MV Dayspring, build in 1975 to catch mackerel and herring, torn from her mooring in the Fort during a ferocious storm in 2011 and now beached on the shore at Caol, close to Corpach, not far from the end of the famous Caledonian Canal and the longest staircase lock in Britain, Neptune’s Staircase. If you venture to the Loch Linnhe shore at low tide, you can get a stunning view of the vessel with the Ben behind. Even if it’s raining, as anyone from the Fort will attest it has been known to do, it’s still stunningly atmospheric and a popular picture haunt for photographers of all abilities.

The Silver Sands of Morar

As the song says, “There’s a hamlet in the west where the weary mind finds rest, far surpassing beauty spots in foreign lands…blessed Morar with its lovely silver sands.” Hollywood cottoned on to this beauty way back in the early 1980s when the movie, Local Hero – written and directed by Bill Forsyth and starring Burt Lancaster and Peter Riegert – filmed at a few Scots spots, including the Silver Sands of Morar, on the old coast road to Arisaig, as well as Camusdarach Beach at Arisaig, with scenes going on to feature in the now iconic film. The series of beaches along the coast from Arisaig to Morar are easily accessible from the roadside and a favourite online because they may be called ‘silver’, but are strikingly white to the eye, often quiet and edging crystal clear water that make Morar and the surrounding area look quite simply like a slice of paradise.

Wailing Widow Falls, Sutherland

Anyone on the North Coast 500 (NC500), the 516-mile scenic route around the north of Scotland, beginning and ending at Inverness Castle, is spoilt for choice with scenery that is so spectacular that in days of old, you would run out of film for your camera. But a little detour off the route to see the Wailing Widow Falls is well worth it as they are oft described as the most spectacular waterfalls in Scotland. Situated between Lochinver and Kylesku Bridge, the 30m waterfall cascades from Loch na Gainmhich into a narrow valley and one of the legends around its name tells it that a young deer hunter fell to his death from the top of the falls, found by his mother who was so overwhelmed with sorrow, she threw herself into the water. Grim tale, but stunning sight.

Touchstone Maze, Strathpeffer

This stone labyrinth is a big draw for Instagram users keen to take the perfect picture of an unusual feature in the Highland countryside around the charming Victorian spa town of Strathpeffer, a few miles west of Dingwall in Ross and Cromarty. There is so much to take in on a visit to this historic spot, including the restored Victorian train station and also the Pump Room, where visitors in the town’s heyday drank water from wells to treat various ailments; not forgetting the beauty of Ben Wyvis in the distance. There are stunning views of the Cromarty Firth and mountains all around from the Iron Age hill fort of Knock Farril, but the maze is a quirky magnet for tourists, created using 81 stones taken from quarries across the Highlands and Islands to reflect Scotland’s complex geographical map. The labyrinth includes Ballachulish slate, Skye marble, Caithness flagstone and Ullapool limestone. A trip to the maze also affords far-ranging views across the mountains of the north and spectacular summer sunsets. To reach the maze, head for Blackmuir Wood.

Gearrannan Blackhouse Village, Isle of Lewis

This restored seaside village in the crofting township of Carloway on the west coast of Isle of Lewis, dating back to the 1800s, is described as a “hidden gem”. To visit the once-abandoned community and its stone and thatch buildings, situated on a hilltop overlooking the Atlantic, is truly to feel as though you are stepping back in time into the rich history of the Outer Hebrides. Now a holiday complex, with various accommodation types, those not staying can simply visit and experience a little of what life was like in these blackhouses that were home for generations of crofting families until the 1970s. You can see traditional activities, including the weaving process of the iconic Harris Tweed, and there is also a shop and a cafe and the opportunity to take images now that look as though they could well have been taken generations ago. And, of course, once your visit is complete, no trip to Lewis and Harris could pass without placing one’s feet on some of the most stunning beaches in Britain.

The Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye

It is nigh on impossible to pinpoint just one recommendation for a visit to the Isle of Skye, with tourists flocking to the likes of the Fairy Pools and Dunvegan Castle en masse to mention just two of the glorious sights the area has to offer. But it has to be said that the Old Man of Storr is an online favourite, partly due to the challenge of reaching it and the desire to get a good shot of the large pinnacle of rock that stands high on the Trotternish ridge, created by a huge ancient landslide. Visible for miles around, the rock has become one of the most photographed landscapes around the world and it looks just as wonderful peaking out of the mist as it does on a sun-soaked summer’s day. Located on the north of Skye, the walk to get to the Old Man begins by the main road from Portree to Staffin and is nearly 4km, taking over an hour to get there. The views are fantastic when you make it, looking out across the sea to the isles of Rona and Raasay and then over to the Cuillins.

Vatersay, Outer Hebrides

Anyone lucky enough to be visiting the Outer Hebrides wouldn’t know what to photograph first with such beauty at every turn. Vatersay – the southernmost inhabited island in the Outer Hebrides – is now linked to Barra by a causeway, with the settlement of Caolas on the north coast of the isle the westernmost permanently inhabited place in Scotland. The main village, also called Vatersay, is in the south of the island and beauty is all around. There is, though, a spot that is much-loved by tourists on Instagram that serves to encapsulate the magical aura of the isle – a gate that opens on to Vatersay Beach. Lovers of the location describe it as a ‘gateway to heaven’, leading on to the half mile long pristine white sandy bay, with a wide expanse of dunes and the Atlantic’s turquoise waters. Look out too for the cairn overlooking the West Bay, a memorial to the 350 passengers who drowned when the Annie Jane ship wrecked in the bay in 1853. But it is the gate dipping into the deep white sand that beguiles online.