Places to visit in Scotland.  Scotland is one of the four countries that make up the United Kingdom. England and Scotland have shared a monarch since 1603 and have been politically unified since 1707.  Visiting Scotland, you may notice subtle changes – in speech and architecture, for example – almost as soon as crossing the border from England.  There’s enough to be familiar, but it is recognisably different too.  The bulk of the population is in the central belt, where Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, and the capital, Edinburgh, are neighbours and rivals.  To the south of the central belt, the border area is hilly – and in Dumfries and Galloway relatively mountainous.  Above the central belt is the Highlands, and two national parks – Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and the Cairngorms.  Visitors come to Scotland for the outdoors – though the weather can be uncertain – and for the unique culture and heritage. A colourful and often violent past means that there are plenty of castles, houses, as well as world-class museums, to see.  Many of Scotland’s overseas visitors come to experience the land their ancestors came from.

St Giles’, High Kirk of Edinburgh

St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh

St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh is more properly known as the City Church, or High Kirk of Edinburgh, as well as the mother church of Presbyterianism.  As a shining example of one of those confusing curiosities that we Brits love so much, it is not technically a cathedral at all, although most people still refer

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The Palace of Holyroodhouse

Palace of Holyroodhouse

Unlike Balmoral, which is a private home, the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh is the Monarch’s official residence in Scotland.  And parts of it are open to the public.  So, assuming you don’t get to visit palaces too often, you should pop in when you’re next in town.  It is situated at the eastern end

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The Devil’s Porridge

Mixing the Devil's Porridge

There is an exceptional little museum in the unassuming village of Eastriggs, in Scotland’s Dumfries and Galloway.  The Devil’s Porridge Museum tells an unusual tale, of ‘the greatest factory on earth’, what it produced and the people that worked in it.  It is a reminder of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.  The factory was called

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Rough on the frontier

Rough Castle, Roman fort

Near the little town of Bonnybridge, west of Falkirk, you will find the largely buried remains of Rough Castle.  This was no fairy-tale fortress, with stone battlements and banners fluttering from romantic-looking towers.  The lumps and ditches in the ground mark the location of a business-like frontier fort, built almost 1900 years ago on the

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The time capsule of Culross

Culross and the Forth

It’s become something of a cliché, to describe a place as ‘being frozen in time’, or similar.  But in the case of Culross, a small village on the north bank of Firth of Forth in Fife (try saying that after too many sherbets), there’s an element of truth in the statement. Most of Culross manages

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The betrayal and capture of William Wallace

Wallace Fields, Robroyston, development

Hard facts about Scottish patriot and hero Sir William Wallace are as elusive as the Loch Ness Monster.  The cult of Wallace fascinates me – and the 13th/14th century Wars of Scottish Independence between Scotland and England is a fascinating chapter in the evolution of the United Kingdom.  People have been known to get terribly

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Robert Burns, an’ a’ that

Tam o' Shanter

What is all the fuss about Robert Burns? Robert – Robbie or ‘Rabbie’ – Burns was a prolific poet and lyricist, who died more than 200 years ago.  He is Scotland’s favourite bard, still revered throughout the land, the world over by those of Scottish descent – and, in fact, by many non-Scots as well. 

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A Queen’s View of the Highlands

Queen's View, places to visit in the Highlands

The Queen looked west over Loch Tummel and liked it very much.  She liked it so much that someone named the view for her. Or, maybe she commanded that it should be so.  Sadly, there’s a little uncertainty over which particular queen we’re talking about here, but whoever it was does not alter the fact

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The pity of Culloden

Leanach Cottage, Culloden, battle, Jacobites

The Battle of Culloden, fought on 16th April 1746, was the last pitched battle fought on British soil. Like many battlefield sites, Culloden’s oozes an atmosphere of profound sadness, embroidered by its own mythology.  It was a long time ago, but, even now, Culloden’s misleading myths can be powerful: this was the place where a

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