Everybody associates Scotland with beautiful landscapes and stunning views which change every second with the variable weather conditions. You can easily get 20 different shots of the one place in one minute, especially when clouds, rain and sunshine take it in turns.
I took a tour of Scotland last August. I noticed that there was much discussion of the referendum and very often, YES notices and posters were displayed in windows and gardens. There were not that many NO posters but in the end they won. Scotland is still part of the UK although it will have more autonomy.
Here are 20 of the most memorable places in this amazing state.
1. Dunnottar Castle
This is my favorite painting of this amazing castle by Walter Hugh Paton 1828-1895, in the Scottish National Gallery. The clouds and rainbow capture the atmosphere beautifully. Much better than waiting for the weather to change! Its name is also a little dramatic as Dunottar means a ‘fort on the shelving slope.’
2. Edinburgh Botanic Gardens
I never knew that poppies could be blue as well as the usual red, yellow and white. This is a field in the gardens, dedicated to those who lost their lives in the World Wars. The blue poppy is actually the national flower of Bhutan and was brought back to the UK in 1926. George Mallory discovered it while trying to scale Mount Everest. This was a failed attempt and the blue poppy was the consolation prize.
3. Fort Augustus
Fort Augustus is one of the best places to view Loch Ness. It also gives you a chance to see the Caledonian Canal locks in action as it connects Scotland’s east and west coastlines. Only about a third of this canal was constructed as the rest is made up of lakes (lochs).
4. Loch Ness
Here’s an interesting story about the famous photograph of the monster which was taken by Dr. Kenneth Wilson. It was actually taken by Ian Wetherall in 1934 who asked Wilson to send it to the Daily Mail. Wetherall wanted revenge because he had been sacked from the mission to find the monster. He cleverly attached a wooden neck to a toy submarine and this fooled the world for over 60 years. In 1994 his stepbrother, Ian Spurling, confessed that it was a hoax.
5. Edinburgh’s elegant houses
Most of the Georgian houses were constructed in the years 1765-1850. Most of them occupy the New Town which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They are now grey or black in appearance due to the fact that the smoke from the coal fires has dirtied the original stonework. It is not surprising to learn that the city’s nickname is Auld Reekie (Old Smoky).
One of the most spectacular glens in the Highlands. It was here that a terrible massacre of the McDonald clan took place when King William’s troops killed 38 people in 1692.
7. The Great Glen
The Great Glen, as its name suggests, is a deep glacial valley which follows a geological fault line. The higher areas are often referred to as ‘The Roof of Scotland’.
8. The National Wallace Monument
William Wallace was the hero who led a revolt against the English tyrannical rule. They won the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. This was the subject of the film Braveheart, starring Mel Gibson. The film won 5 Oscars.
9. Rannoch Moor
A combination of rivers, rocky peaks, small lakes and bog make this landscape exceptional
10. The Elephant House Café
What’s so special about this typical café in Edinburgh? This is where J.K.Rowling, the creator of the Harry Potter books, wrote the first book in the series. She was a single mother and had nowhere else to write. The toilets are full of Harry Potter grafitti now.
11. Buachaille Etive Mor
The translation of this Gaelic name is the ‘the great shepherd of Etive.’ A haven for climbers, photographers and hill walkers.
12. Cairngorms National Park
13. Loch Laggan
Apart from its beauty, this loch became famous as the location for the BBC series Monarch of the Glen.
14. Blair Castle
A castle with a remarkable history. There are connections with Mary Queen of Scots, Bonnie Prince Charlie and even Queen Victoria. The Victorian Ballroom is decorated with 175 pairs of antlers.
This town became famous in Victorian times for tourism, no doubt attracted by the fact that Queen Victoria spent a lot of time in the area.
16. Birnam Wood
Birnam Wood, which is mentioned in Shakespeare’s Macbeth is part of the Perthshire forests.
The medieval capital of Scotland. Nearby is Scone Castle where many of the Scottish monarchs were crowned.
18. Loch Leven
This is near where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned before escaping to England where she was executed.
19. Forth Bridge, Edinburgh
There are actually two bridges, one for the railway and the other for road transport. There are plans to replace the road bridge by 2016.
20. Isle of Skye
This is probably the most beautiful part of Scotland. If these dramatic landscapes and wild places do not impress you, nothing will!
Featured photo credit: Scotland/Moyan Brenn via flickr.com