Many people travel to Scotland to view the beautiful scenery and there is no denying that it has some of the most stunning landscapes in the world. However, Scotland has much more to offer those looking for a memorable adventure, there are some things that you can't do anywhere else in the world. Here is my list of 10 things that you can only do in Scotland, just in case you need another reason or ten to visit...
1. Take the world's shortest commercial flight - The flight between the two Orkney Islands, Westray and Papa Westray takes a mere 47 seconds!
2. Bag a Munro - A Munro is a mountain in Scotland with a height over 3,000 ft. Climbing to the peak is known as 'Munro-bagging', the aim is to 'bag' them all (282 at last count).
3. Play at the world's oldest golf course - St Andrew's Old Course is the oldest golf course in the world with the game first played here as long ago as 1400.
4. Enjoy the view from the tallest, fully rotating free-standing structure in the world - at 127 metres high, The Glasgow Science Centre Tower provides panoramic views of up to 20 miles across the city of Glasgow.
If there is one area of Scotland renowned for it's love of country pursuits it is Perthshire. It is therefore no surprise that Scotland's leading equestrian event is held here. The Blair Castle International Horse Trials take place over several days with the lush green grounds of the Atholl Estate and the pretty white castle providing a very picturesque backdrop.
The Trials test the ability of the horses and riders in dressage, cross country and show jumping and those competing must be highly skilled in all three disciplines. The three part event has been compared to an equine triathlon and has evolved from a military event which required the horse and rider to parade with elegance, gallop cross country in battle and have the stamina to continue on demanding days. I attended for the first time this weekend which marked the 26th year of the event at Blair Castle.
I should make clear that I am in no way an expert in the techniques required to score points and win awards at an equine event like this, although I did learn that the winner is determined by the horse and rider combination with the lowest score. Even a novice like myself could still appreciate the dexterity of the riders and their steeds with participants ranging from Olympic medalists to amateurs competing for the first time, all keen to show off their skills in the sport.
With several arenas there was plenty going on and I enjoyed watching everything from a jousting demonstration to show jumping. The show jumping in particular was compelling to view and as each horse and rider approached a fence I found myself willing them over and joined in with the crowd clapping each successful jump.
Guest Post by Glen Moyer
Many thanks to Glen Moyer from the USA for providing this guest post about Monarch of the Glen Country. Glen was inspired to visit earlier this year after watching the TV show and went on to write a travel blog about his time exploring many beautiful parts of Scotland. I was lucky enough to meet Glen on his travels and I'm delighted that he has written this blog about the place that originally awakened his passion for Scotland. Even if you have never watched the show, this area is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful in the country and Glen has included many suggestions for making the most of your time here.
For fans of the BBC drama “Monarch of the Glen”, like me, no tour of Scotland is complete without a visit to “Glenbogle” and the surrounding “Monarch Country” in the Scottish Highlands. Of course Glenbogle is fictional, but Ardverikie, the house and estate where the drama was filmed on location for 7 ‘seasons’ from 2000 to 2005, is very real.
Ardverikie is the historical home of the Clan Macpherson but through various circumstances ownership passed to Sir John William Ramsden in 1867. A family company of his heirs continues to run the estate today.
This present day version of the house is the 3rd, begun in 1870 and completed in 1877 after fires destroyed the first two. Long before it served as a television studio and fictional home to the MacDonald clan, it very nearly became a royal residence. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited here in August 1847 and fancied the house but not the Highland weather (or the pesky midgies) and so later purchased Balmoral as a royal Scottish residence instead.
“Glenbogle” was originally created by Sir Compton Mackenzie in his 1941 novel “Monarch of the Glen”, on which the TV drama was loosely based. It was the show’s creator Michael Chaplin who selected Ardverikie Estate and the region around it to serve as Glenbogle House and the village of Glenbogle for the BBC.
While the TV drama concluded filming and last aired (excepting reruns) nearly a decade ago, the hit series still enjoys a loyal worldwide fan base so Ardeverike draws visitors year round. Unlike many stately homes in England, Ardverikie - the house and the whole of the estate – remains private and as such is not open for public tours. This will no doubt surprise some fans should they arrive unawares. Still there are ways for fans (“Boglies” as they call themselves) and non-fans alike to gain access…
So you love Outlander and have fallen for all things romantically Scottish. You have booked your trip in the hope of finding your own kilted Jamie who will whisk you off across the hills and glens to live happy ever after in your cosy Highland home.
Okay, maybe that's a wee bit of an exaggeration (or maybe not!) but let's just hypothetically say you're coming to Scotland to admire more than the scenery. As a Scottish woman I totally understand, it is in my DNA to find men in tartan skirts more attractive than well cut, tight fitting jeans. However, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but a kilted man in 21st Century Scotland is an elusive creature and unless you know where to look it is possible that you may be left disappointed.
Now, if you are willing to hunt them down you will be well rewarded as they seldom roam alone, meaning you are likely to find a large pack gathered in the one spot. If you are one of those people who are hypothetically coming for purposes of this sort or know a friend of a friend who might be interested then here is my guide to five places you are guaranteed to find a kilted man in Scotland.
Mauchline is a characterful little town in East Ayrshire with a long and varied history. It is the home of Mauchline ware the famous wooden souvenirs and the only curling stone factory in the world, however the main reason many people visit here is the strong connections to Scotland's National Bard, Robert Burns.
Mauchline is mentioned in every Burns trail and with good reason. He spent four important years here from 1784 to 1788 and during that time he experienced many highs and lows including
I had never been to Mauchline before and decided this week that it was time to visit the area of Scotland that inspired many of my favourite Burns poems. The day I visited it was bucketing with rain which meant that I didn't manage to enjoy a full walk around the town, however there was still plenty to do and my first stop at the free Burns House Museum was a warm and welcome shelter from the wet deluge outside. A 20 minute video about the Bard's life during the period he resided here was an informative introduction to the complicated life of the poet. The museum is situated in a building where Burns and his wife Jean Armour spent some time living and features a recreation of the room they lodged in. The museum also houses Burns artifacts and even has a listening snug where you can relax and enjoy his poems. There has been alot of thought put into this museum and it's exhibits and the fact that it is free makes it an ideal starting point when visiting the town.
A couple of months ago I posted this photo on social media with the caption 'Everyone should touch the top of a Scottish mountain at least once in their life'. It proved pretty popular and I thought I'd let you into a little secret about how it was taken and how much easier it is than you might think for you to take the same photo.
The photo was taken in Glencoe and the mountain I'm 'touching' is Buachaille Etive Mòr (the great herdsman of Etive). Probably the most photographed mountain in Scotland, most images are taken from the ground but how much more impressive would it be to go home with a photo like this instead?
if you want some pretty majestic Scottish mountain shots like these without the effort of climbing an actual mountain, here is my cheat's guide.
When you walk around any city it is easy to get distracted by the waves of people, the streams of traffic and the inevitable window shopping. It is all too easy to miss the finer details that make up the urban fabric and the architectural styles of the many buildings.
Glasgow's city centre grid iron street pattern is home to magnificent Victorian masterpieces and Rennie Mackintosh and Greek Thomson gems which sit alongside architectural designs from sturdy medieval stone constructions to sleek contemporary glass formations.
If you're in any city find a place that you lets you gaze across the building tops and it will open up a whole new world to you, ornate carvings, sculptures, domes, towers, spires and characterful spaces hidden from the streets below.
The Lighthouse in Glasgow was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and now houses a visitor and exhibition centre complete with a viewing tower providing an amazing 360 degree panorama of the city. I find the views fascinating and could easily spend hours studying the detail on every building and watching the ever changing skyline as buildings rise and fall.
These photos were taken from my most recent trip there and I would highly recommend a visit but allow yourself plenty of time as you may spend longer than expected drifting among the enchanting city rooftops.
As I stand 370ft above the Firth of Forth with sweeping vistas of Fife and the Lothians stretching before me I feel like I am standing on top of the world. Looking down through the steel bones of the Forth Bridge at the toy houses and cars below provides a sobering reminder that despite how big I currently feel, I am really just an insignificant speck on this mammoth sized structure.
The cruise ship that seemed to tower from the water as I stood looking out from the shore minutes earlier has now shrunken to the size of my thumbnail and the cars crossing the parallel Forth Road Bridge remind me of a stream of ants.
Viewing the Forth Bridge from the land or water below it is easy to see the scale of this Victorian rail crossing. Prior to embarking on my jolty ride up an exterior caged hoist, my guides from Network Rail, Ian Heigh and Craig Bowman, had pointed out the viewing platform at the top of the bridge and I remember thinking how tiny it looked and how much bigger the bridge suddenly seemed. Yet, now standing on that same platform I realise it is in fact rather large and that it is the hugeness of the steel structured bridge that seems to make everything else shrink dramatically.
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