Six Reasons You Should Visit Scotland
This spectacular country is part of the United Kingdom and covers the northern third of the island of Great Britain. Scotland is well known for its scenic landscapes, rich culture and its national animal being a Unicorn. This country is famed for its myths and legends, so why not have a mythical creature to be its national animal. When you think of Scotland you might envision its iconic tartan kilts, bagpipes and Haggis, but there is so much more to this amazing place and you should unquestionably put it on your long list of places to visit after lockdown! Unique traditions and cultures have formed Scotland into the vibrant country it is today; the main indigenous languages spoken here are Scottish Gaelic and Scots. To find out even more about Scotland you should complete GG Treasure Hunts Online Scotland Wanderlust Treasure Hunt!
- Loch Ness
The Loch Ness is a deep, freshwater loch in the Scottish Highlands, famous for its alleged sightings of the cryptozoological Loch Ness Monster, also known as ‘Nessie’. The Loch Ness Monster is a creature created in Scottish folklore often described as large and long necked and is said to inhabit Loch Ness. The first recorded sighting of Nessie was apparently by St Columba in 565 AD and there have been various accounts of supposed monster sightings and anecdotes since. The Loch Ness area has attracted numerous monster hunters over the years to try and locate this legend, but none have been successful. A fantastic film to watch if you’re interested in the Loch Ness Monster is ‘The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep’.
The Loch (lake in Gaelic) is one of a series of interconnected murky bodies of water in Scotland; its water visibility is exceptionally low due to a high peat content in the surrounding soil – excellent conditions for a monster in hiding. The scenery is beautiful, this area has seen more than its fair share of drama throughout history. If you’re lucky you may see wildlife such as majestic Red Deer, Black Grouse and Golden Eagles. You can also visit the Urquhart castle, a ruin that sits beside the Loch Ness dating back to the 13th century. This castle is one of the most visited castles in Scotland and offers great views of the Loch. Talking of views, it is worth taking a Loch Ness cruise tour, where you might catch a glimpse of Nessie.
Edinburgh is Scotland’s capital and one of the most stunning and greenest cities in the United Kingdom. It is the centre of culture and arts and is especially well-known for its castles and big festivals. The city has a medieval old town and an elegant Georgian new town with gardens and neoclassical buildings. Edinburgh castle is a, historic fortress which dominates the skyline of the city, from its position on the extinct volcano Castle Rock. As one of the most important strongholds in the kingdom of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle was involved in many historical conflicts, from the wars of Scottish independence in the 14th century to the Jacobite rising of 1745. This old and well-preserved castle is a must see and you can take a guided tour of the castle for just £17.50 per person. Additionally, the Palace of Holyroodhouse and Holyrood Park are amazing places to see. Holyroodhouse is the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II; the Queen spends one week here at the beginning of each summer. Parts of the Palace are open to the public throughout the year, except when members of the royal family are in residence. Holyrood Park is the royal public park with an array of hills, lochs, glens, basalt cliffs and patches of gorse – providing a wild piece of highland landscape. The parks highest point is Arthurs Seat, an ancient volcano with panoramic views of the whole city.
Edinburgh is home to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe which is the world’s largest arts festival. In 2018 it spanned over 25 days where thousands of artists and performers take to hundreds of stages all over the city to present shows for every taste. This monumental celebration of arts and culture takes place over three weeks in August, be sure not to miss it! Another incredible fact about Edinburgh is that the Harry Potter films were filmed here and you can take the Pottertrail tour around all the relevant locations.
- Callanish Stones
The mysterious Callanish Stones also known as the Calanais Standing Stones are an extraordinary arrangement of stones placed in a cruciform patten. They are located on the west coast of the Isle of Lewis and were erected in the late Neolithic era, 5,000 years ago. This historical landmark predates England’s famous Stonehenge monument and was thought to be used as a place of ritual during the bronze age. The exact purpose of the giant stones has been lost in history, but the most logical answer is that they were used as some sort of astronomical observatory/ lunar calendar. At the major lunar standstill (the moons most northerly position in the night sky during the 18-year cycle) the moon aligns with the southern hills. The shape of the hills forms a silhouette of a woman known as ‘Cailleach na mointeach’ or the old woman of the moors. The next major lunar standstill will occur in April 2025, but you don’t have to wait until then to visit; the stones are a mystical thing to see whenever.
- Stirling Castle
Situated atop of Castle Hill in Stirling is one of the largest and most important castles in Scotland, both historically and architecturally. Stirling Castle has been home to some of the most famous individuals in Scotland and British history, including Mary Queen of Scots and James VI. The castle overlooks the site of the 1297 battle of Stirling bridge, where William Wallace defeated the English. It is a great symbol of Scottish independence and national pride and the surrounding scenery will take your breath away! Tickets to venture round the castle are £16 per person, where you can have an audio tour or complete the family trail in the Unicorns garden.
Amazingly the first record of attempted flight took place at Stirling Castle. John Damion flung himself off the battlements in 1507, wearing a pair of artificial gravity defying, alchemically enhanced wings that he had invented. The flying device was built using feathers supplied by the royal poulterers. He had told King James IV that his understanding of the elements would enable him to fly to France. The legendary pilot ended up landing in a dung heap breaking his thigh and from then he was labelled as ‘The Birdman of Stirling Castle’.
- Isle of Staffa
The uninhabited Island of Staffa on the Inner Hebrides of Scotland is famous for being home to Fingal’s Cave. The cave became known as Fingal’s cave following the publication of Macphersons poem about a hero named Fingal. In Gaelic and Irish mythology, he was a courageous warrior who built a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland called the Giants Causeway. The islands distinctive rock columns formed from basalt are thought to be the remains of this connecting bridge. No one is certain whether Fingal was a normal sized man or a giant and there is no explanation to why he built the causeway. This myth brings tons of tourists to the island to partake in boat tours to the spectacular cave. During Spring and early Summer, the cliffs and grassy slopes provide perfect nesting sites for various seabirds such as Guillemots, Razorbills and Puffins. Another striking feature of Fingal’s Cave is the acoustics and sounds that resonate through the walls, giving it the name Uamb-Binn in Gaelic – meaning the ‘cave of melody’.
- Scottish Specialities
The Scottish cuisine is known for its history and diversity; you won’t have any shortages of traditional and delicious food on your travels here. As you might have guessed, Haggis is Scotland’s national dish. For those brave enough to try it, Haggis is a unique savoury meat pudding made from a sheep’s internal organs. It is usually served with mashed potatoes, turnips (known as neeps) and a whiskey sauce. Which brings us to the national drink – whiskey. There are over 100 whiskey distilleries in Scotland that produce this amber hued beverage, many of which can be explored on a tour. Often described as ‘Scotland’s other national drink’, is that of Iron Bru – a carbonated soft drink. If you fancy something sweet on your adventure, you should 100% try a deep-fried Mars Bar. This iconic dessert concept was invented in 1992 in a chip shop near Aberdeen. I am dying to try this melted chocolate, enveloped in a crispy batter!