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Destination Guide: Scotland Small in stature but brimming with character and natural beauty from enchanting Edinburgh to the beguiling landscapes of the Scottish Highlands
Scotland is as enchanting as it is unique; small in stature but brimming with a distinct character, countries that can offer as many recognisable national icons are few and far between! Where else can you find your family tartan kilt, spot highland cows in the fields, see scotch thistle and heather on the Highlands, enjoy the haunting tune of the bagpipes or a sample a wee dram of finest malt whisky?
Scotland’s natural landscapes are truly iconic, offering an enchanting blend of rugged highlands, remote glens and misty lochs where wildlife and birdlife thrives. And these vistas are of course punctuated with ancient castles, baronial manors and enshrouded in national history, myth and legend. To experience Scotland is to take a journey through both history and natural beauty.
The Scottish people are characterised as being stern, dour and fiercely patriotic, but in truth are a lovely bunch full of wit and humour and as hosts they offer an unrivalled friendly and welcoming hospitality. Food and drink are vital ingredients in this hospitality; Scottish fare includes hearty offerings such as Aberdeen Angus beef, hot Scotch broth, or the divisive national dish of Haggis. Not to mention of course the Scottish “Water of Life” better known as scotch whisky distilled throughout the Highlands and Scottish Islands.
Scotland’s natural geography offers a vast wilderness to be discovered; covering more than a third of Britain’s land area, but less than 10% of her population, vast swathes of Northern Scotland remain very sparsely populated allowing nature to pervade. The Scottish Lowlands (the area to the South of Edinburgh and Glasgow) are characterised by undulating hills and valleys studded with historic border castles and Abbey ruins. It is, however, the untamed Scottish Highlands and Islands which harbour Scotland’s more dramatic landscapes; this region is home to sweeping, sandy bays, rugged cliff faces, heather-swept moorlands, towering mountains, and glassy lochs which include Ben Nevis, Britain’s tallest peak and Loch Ness, Britain’s deepest body of water. These regions are abundant in natural wildlife from varied fauna to wild deer, red squirrel and an array of birdlife inland to whales, seals and porpoise in the coastal waters. Breathing in the fresh air of the Highlands and immersing yourself in her natural beauty is the perfect escape from the rush of modern life.
However, Scotland’s cityscapes are often an equally appealing destination. The skyline of Edinburgh, Scotland’s Capital, is truly iconic dominated by the hill-top castle overlooking the tangle of lanes and alleys of the medieval Oldtown and elegant Georgian avenues of the Newtown below. In fact, the whole of Edinburgh enjoys World Heritage status for its history and beauty. Tradition resounds here with historic buildings and world-class exhibitions and museums around every corner but there is also a vibrant and contemporary culture as Edinburgh leads the way in modern Scottish politics and entertainment home as it is to the Scottish Parliament, a flourishing pub scene and multiple international cultural festivals. Scotland’s “second” city, Glasgow, is hot on Edinburgh’s heels; more populous than its sister city Glasgow is shaking off its post-industrial slump and is displaying a cultural resurgence in recent years which celebrates its glorious Victorian and Georgian architecture boasts a thriving commercial scene and a truly vibrant, urban nightlife. Scotland’s smaller cities also offer an eclectic mix of destinations from the historic charm of Stirling and St Andrews to the coastal “granite city” of Aberdeen and riverside “Capital of the Highlands” in Inverness.
A Great British Journey tour of Scotland will take you on a leisurely adventure to discover Scotland’s rich history, sample Scottish food and drink, spot unique wildlife and of course to immerse yourself in the fresh-air and breath-taking natural landscapes of the Scottish Highlands. Scotland is a truly unforgettable destination.