Guide to Scotland
Scotland: small in size, big in stature. From large areas of wilderness, big skies, castles atop rocky outcrops and big-hearted people, there’s nothing meagre about Scotland. With a rich-layered history, divine home produce, literary culture and a list of Scottish engineers, explorers and inventors as long as your arm, there’s loads to see, learn and do in the ancient kingdom of Alba.
Places to Visit
Glasgow is proud of its industrial heritage and its Victorian architecture blends in with the numerous modern structures that line the Clyde River. The many museums house wonderful collections of natural history, art and diverse objects from Scotland and around the world.
Glasgow comes alive in the evening with traditional pubs still doing a roaring trade alongside nightclubs. Of course, football and music play a big part in the city’s culture.
The cathedral is a great example of Gothic architecture with most of the building dating from the 15th century. Its wooden roof has been restored many times but some of the timber still dates from the original structure.
For a great night out and fascinating days, Glasgow is definitely worth a visit.
A beautiful city, Edinburgh is intimately linked with the natural landscape. Its castle punctuates the skyline from its lofty position on Castle Rock, the Royal Mile is picturesque with its haphazard medieval tenements while the New Town brings a sense of order and respectability with its neo-classical, Georgian planning and architecture.
The National Galleries of Scotland (National, Portrait and Modern Art) cater for all tastes in art, from Rembrandt to the Surrealists, Jacobite to Figurative Scottish art.
Of course, Edinburgh is also known for its festivals, including the Military Tattoo and Fringe (see Things to Do).
Cobbled streets wind up the extinct volcano to the castle. The Old Town is the highlight of the city itself, including the Back Walk footpath which encircles it.
The Old Town Jail has guided tours around the former prison cells with tales of punishments and torture alongside facts of Stirling’s history.
The National Wallace Monument can be seen from the town and is worth the trip to the Ochil Hills. The Gothic style tower is to be found on the spot where William Wallace (he of Braveheart fame), was said to have watched Edward I’s army gathering. A number of artefacts can be seen inside the tower including what is purported to be Wallace’s 64-inch broadsword.
This is a small town with a big history… first Scottish university, the home of golf and a place of pilgrimage.
The medieval ruins of the cathedral and castle, plus the white sands of the bay as it curves away from the town are just some of the reasons to visit if golf is not your thing. However, if you do want to find out more about the history of golf then the British Golf Museum is the place to go. With material dating from the 17th century to the present day, it is the most comprehensive golf collection in Britain.
Things to Do
Explore Scotland’s Literary Heritage
Sir Walter Scott was a 19th century novelist and poet probably best-known for his works Ivanhoe and Lady of the Lake. Abbotsford, the house he created, is fitting testament to the writer. Close to Melrose in the Scottish Borders, it’s the perfect opening chapter to a Scottish literary tour.
Walk through the village of Alloway, popping into the humble cottage where Robert Burns was born; the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in the village houses more than 5,000 artefacts of the great man including manuscripts. It’s ideal for all ages with activities and a Burns-themed play area for children.
Visit the Writer’s Museum in Edinburgh with manuscripts, portraits, rare books and personal objects from three of Scotland’s most famous writers – Robert Burns, Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson.
Wigtown is Scotland’s National Book Town and holds an annual book festival. A book lover’s haven, it is home to a range of book-related businesses with enough bookshops to keep the most dedicated bibliophile enthralled.
Scotland is made for sport and adrenalin-inducing activities. Whether you want to go hiking, canyoning, skiing, cycling, golf or go on a Highland Safari, the great Scottish outdoors is the place to do it.
Visit Scotland has 7 Wonders of Scotland’s Walking World, from city walking to the whole of the West Highland Highway. So, whether you’re scaling mountains, following a coastal path or scrambling up the seven hills of Edinburgh, you can be assured of a good ‘walk-out’.
Dial the drama up to max. Take your pick of adrenaline-pumping sports and activities with some of the world’s most dramatic scenery as your backdrop. From white water rafting and scuba diving to canyoning and kite surfing, you’ll be sure to have fantastic memories. Take a look at a top 10 of Scottish adrenaline sports.
When the snow falls on the Highlands you can don your funky ski-hat and head for the slopes for some serious white stuff action! Sign up for a snow alert to ensure you head to the best powder. However, you don’t have to wait until winter to hit the slopes, Scotland has a number of indoor and artificial slopes to feed your snow sports hunger year-round.
Duchally Country Estate is within walking distance of the world-renowned Gleneagles golf course and in the ultimate location for accessing some of Scotland’s 500+ golf courses. Guests at Duchally can also benefit from discounts at local clubs. Find out more here.
Combine the daintiness of the Highland dance with the meatiness of the caber toss and you have the recipe for the Highland Games. Held from May to September each year, the games are in over 80 locations from islands to towns and villages across the country. You’ll be party to sporting prowess, dancing, pipes and drums and clan celebrations.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe
In theatres and on the streets of Edinburgh, you can see some of the world’s greatest performers every August. There are big names in entertainment as well as unknown artists looking to burst onto the scene. You’ll be spoiled for choice and it’s highly unlikely you won’t find something to suit your taste.
The Fringe is just one of many festivals held in Edinburgh every year.
25th January is the day for celebrating the birth of Robert Burns combining haggis, whisky and poetry – which sounds like a pretty potent combination! Whether you go self-catering and hold your own Burns’ Night celebration or attend a more formal affair, you too can enjoy some great Scottish tradition.
Food and Drink
Scotland was not previously renowned for its gastronomy, but recently it has taken off with appreciation for all the fine, local produce that the seas, lochs and land give rise to. Now you can expect, alongside the traditional haggis, to enjoy fresh fish, venison, beef and fruits cooked with skill and love.
Here’s a selection of some of the country’s favourite eateries:
Makars Gourmet Mash Bar
A popular casual dining restaurant in Edinburgh, Makars Gourmet Mash Bar serves up an array of traditional Scottish dishes and plates with fantastic local Scottish ingredients. Its friendly atmosphere and great grub make it a popular place to have fun with family and friends whether you’re a local or visitor.
Also in Edinburgh and focusing on local, seasonal produce is the Aurora modern eatery. Combining Scottish and continental dishes, the menu is versatile and refreshing, just like the décor. The reclaimed materials from which the interior is made means you can feel good about yourself for lots of reasons, not just the food!
For fine dining, Bilson Eleven just outside Glasgow is the place to go. Housed in an iconic, beautifully restored, tenement building, they recommend a minimum of three hours to enjoy their tasting menu comfortably.
Christo’s Greek Tavern
Aberdeen’s “own little corner of Greece” has been in business since 1991 and serves up Greek home cooking specialities. A mid-range priced restaurant you can enjoy a little touch of traditional Mediterranean dining made with great Scottish produce.
Monteaths & Whisky Bar at Duchally Country Estate is recognised by Scotland’s Taste Our Best award for its commitment to sourcing and promoting Scottish produce. Dishes such as Haggis Pakora and line-caught trout with caramelised new potato & asparagus, demonstrate the versatility of both ingredients and chef.
From getting the best travel apps to distances from CLC Duchally Country Estate, below are links to useful information for holidaying in Scotland.
Photo credits: Image 1 by Joshua Earle on Unsplash; Image 2 by Zach Rowlandson on Unsplash; Image 3 by Jorg Angeli on Unsplash; Image 4 source: Pixabay; Image 5 source: Pixabay; Image 6 by Elijah O’Donnell on Unsplash; Image 8 by Kristof Vizy on Unsplash; Image 9 by Rune Haugseng on Unsplash; Image 10 by Razvan Chisu on Unsplash; Image 11 by John Such on Unsplash; Image 12 source: Pixabay; Image 13 source: Flickr