Scotland

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.

Atlantic Bridge

Atlantic Bridge, Bridge over the Atlantic, Clachan Bridge, Seil, Argyll

This is the Bridge over the Atlantic, also known as the Atlantic Bridge; I daresay someone’s referred to it as Atlantic Crossing too. You’ll find it in Argyll, Scotland, about 10 miles south of Oban. Atlantic Bridge’s real name is Clachan Bridge and it joins the Hebridean island of Seil with the mainland, spanning a …

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A tour of Stirling Castle

Visit Stirling Castle

You can see it from miles away.  Stirling Castle stands guard from the top of a massive volcanic plug, with steep cliffs on three sides, towering above the ancient crossing over the River Forth and the route armies take between Highland and Lowland.  It has witnessed so much of Scotland’s history, including two of its …

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St Andrew, patron saint of Scotland

St Andrew, St Andrews, Fife

Scotland’s national saint, St Andrew, has his day on 30th November.  As well as being the patron saint of Scotland, St Andrew is the patron saint of Amalfi, Barbados, Greece, Romania, Russia, the Ukraine, singers, spinsters, would-be mothers, fishmongers and fishermen, gout and sore throats.  According to the Scottish Government’s website, St Andrew’s Day “is …

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Is Eilean Donan Castle a fake?

A moody Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland

Eilean Donan Castle, ubiquitous star of movies, calendars, biscuit tins and tea-towels, is pretty much a 20th-century creation.  Rescued from almost total ruin, it says something for its rebuild, and the success of Scottish tourism, that it is not only one of the most photographed and visited castles in Scotland, but also one of the …

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The massacre at Glen Coe

Glen Coe, massacre, Jacobites

Scotland’s Glen Coe is justifiably well known to walkers, geographers, geologists and nature-lovers as a place of beauty and interest. It also has a rich history of saints and Vikings. Yet, year after year, visitors from all over the world are drawn by a single event, the terrible massacre at Glen Coe that took place …

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Don’t underestimate Dornoch Cathedral

Dornoch Cathedral, ceiling

Mrs Britain had been banging on about Dornoch Cathedral almost since the time we first met. A relative had been married there and it had made a deep impression on her; you know how young girls can be. Its only other claim to fame, as far as I could make out, was that Madonna and …

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National Wallace Monument

National Wallace Monument

Beyond Scotland, ex-pat Scots and a few informed corners of Britain as a whole, not many people would have heard of William Wallace before the 1995 film, Braveheart.  The American, Mel Gibson, directed and starred in the movie, playing the downtrodden, noble, medieval Scottish hero battling the evil English, led by Patrick McGoohan – who …

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Formidable Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle, visit Edinburgh, Historic Scotland

You can’t imagine Edinburgh without Edinburgh Castle – it is one of the City’s landmarks, dominating the skyline, perched on a seemingly impregnable, daunting, volcanic rock at the end of The Royal Mile.  On a bright day, perhaps at festival time and viewed through the colours of Princes Street Gardens, it is ambiguous; fearsome yet …

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Tracking down Britain’s secret SOE

Arisaig, Lochaber, SOE

The tiny village of Arisaig, nestling on an inlet along the beautiful Morar peninsula, has a wonderful little museum.  The Land, Sea and Islands Visitor Centre tells visitors all about the local flora and fauna in this relatively remote part of West Scotland. But it also includes a fascinating section on one of Britain’s clandestine …

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Glenfinnan, for Jacobites and Potterfans

Glenfinnan Memorial, Loch Shiel, visit Scotland, Highlands

It is Monday, 19th August, 1745.  A lone rowing boat makes its way up Scotland’s Loch Shiel, heading for Glenfinnan.  Sitting in the stern is a young man, not yet 25 years old, tall, good-looking.  He is Charles Edward Louis Philip Casimir Stuart, son of James Francis Edward Stuart and grandson of the deposed King …

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Mungo’s Glasgow Cathedral

Glasgow Cathedral

Glasgow, one of Britain’s great cities and Scotland’s largest, is famous for many things; but probably not for its cathedral.  Indeed, at first glance, Glasgow Cathedral appears a little drab compared with some of its squeaky-cleaned up, maybe wealthier, siblings elsewhere; there is not much trace of a busy, comfort-blanketing close, or precinct, as you …

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Stay at Rosslyn Castle

Rosslyn Castle, near Roslin, Midlothian

Rosslyn Castle can’t seem to make up its mind how it wants to be spelt. It appears as both Roslin and Rosslyn – clearly the same name; the nearby village is Roslin and the infamous Chapel is invariably Rosslyn. In any event, Rosslyn Castle is often overlooked by those making a pilgrimage to the better-known …

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The spine-tingling tale of Greyfriars Bobby

Greyfriars Bobby, Edinburgh

Every now and again you come across a story so terrible, so utterly bone-chilling, that you need a mug of cocoa and a lie-down to calm yourself.  This particular narrative concerns (the clue is in the picture)… a small dog. Our tale begins in the year 1814, in Forfar (that’s a town, not a stutter), …

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