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Trip preparation: The Scottish Tourist Board publishes a helpful 108-page guide filled with suggested itineraries and practical tips on accommodations and transportation. It includes addresses and phone numbers for regional tourist offices in Scotland. And it's free. Call (800) 925-1237.

The Scottish Tourist Board's main office in Edinburgh can supply brochures. Write to P.O. Box 705, Edinburgh, Scotland EH4 3EU.The British Tourist Authority also can provide a wealth of information on the Highlands. Write to 551 Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y. 10176-0799. Or call (800) 462-2748.

When to visit: Daytime temperatures average 50 degrees or higher from May through October (about 60 degrees in July and August). Midwinter highs are in the 30s. Be prepared for rain or, during the winter, snow.

Seeing the Highlands: Renting a car allows the best opportunity for exploration. Most major companies have offices in Edinburgh and Glasgow. It's a good idea to invest in a detailed Michelin map (No. 401). that shows even the smallest roads.

British Rail serves much of the Highlands. BritRail flexipasses, good for travel in Scotland, England and Wales, start at $195. Freedom of Scotland Travelpasses start at $159. For information and brochures, call (800) 677-8585.

The Royal Scotsman is an Edwardian train whose nine carriages hold 32 passengers. Five-day tours including gourmet meals cost $3,590. For a brochure, call Abercrombie & Kent at (800) 323-7308.

Information within Scotland: The Edinburgh and Scotland Information Center is located at 3 Princes St. Call (0131) 557-1700 within Scotland.

The Rob Roy and Trossachs Information Center is located at Ancaster Square in the center of Callander. It is open March through December. Admission to exhibits and an audiovisual presentation is $2 for adults, $1.50 for children. Call (0877) 30342 within Scotland.