This is a question I asked myself many times over my lifetime.
What is it about Scotland that attracts people so? What magic draws them, time after time, to this bit of land hovering on the edge of Europe?
The quick answer is the rugged beauty. Or the history. Or the people. Well, I guess there isn’t one quick answer, is there?
Coming from America, I do know that one of the chief attractions of Scotland is that it is so compact. Not quite as compact as Ireland, perhaps, as the mountains and highlands make for long traveling days. But oh, such days! Within a day, you can visit pubs, castles, cliffs, stunning architecture, or standing stones. Or several of each!
One day driving in America from Miami will barely get you out of Florida, a particularly flat and boring trip along tree-lined I-95. I know, I’ve done that drive many times. It’s boring as hell.
Scotland is full of things to see, to do, and to experience. There are 5,000 year old HOMES, not just ceremonial structures like stone circles or cairns, but places where people actually slept, ate, told stories, made art, and raised families. It has stunning vistas hidden in unexpected places. And there is so much more to Scotland that just the history. There is a fantastic opportunity to sample the incredible seafood, caught in the ocean just outside your door. There is a dazzling array of Whiskies to try, kilted men to see, and music to listen to.
Scotland has a certain, quite strength within the very bones of the land. It cries out in a low, sweet rumble for the tragedies of the past and the hope of the future. Standing in a place like Glen Coe or Culloden Moor, you can hear the whispers of the dead, caressing the edge of your mind and tickling your soul.
Many people are proud to claim Scottish heritage. Clan culture is strong in America, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, anywhere that accepted Scots immigrants throughout the centuries. I can claim McKenzie heritage myself, as my great-grandmother was Grace McKenzie. To some people, including me, the sound of bagpipes hearkens to a time of desperate warfare and proud heritage. It stirs the ancestral memories.
Many people had to leave Scotland, especially in the 18th century. Many left due to the Highland Clearances, a particularly brutal policy by the English government to seize the lands, assets, and often the lives, of highlander crofters and farmers. These seizures usually had much less to do with the political leanings of the tenants and more to do with the purpose of subjugating a rebellious population. A population who had fighting and independence as an integral part of their lineage and culture.
The land holds a particular mystery. 5,000 year old structures amaze and mystify even today. Highly engineered solar calendars, burial tombs, and fairy hills draw all manner of scientists and pagans to their magic. There is something particularly special about the mountains and highlands of Scotland.
While the land itself is amazing, with no doubt, it’s the people I look forward to interacting with the most. I met so many amazing people on my trips. Like Hazel and Pete, who run an amazing B&B with restaurant and pub in Edinbane
, on the Isle of Skye. Or the folks of the Craig Bar
in Grantown-on-Spey, who have at least fifty single malts on offer at any given time. The owner was telling me of her intention to travel alone to Beijing for that summer’s Olympics. She was in her mid-70s!
Why don’t you plan your own trip to this magical place? Free yourself from the binding chains of the tour guide, and make your own way across this land. Find where your ancestors once lived, or climb a munro, the Scottish term for mountains, and gaze across the moors around Ben Nevis. Explore the unspoiled northern coast of Scotland, one of the most beautiful hidden gems I’ve seen. Explore the neolithic treasure chest that are the Orkney and Shetland islands, or revel in the delightful archtecture in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Find the hidden gems and experience the land itself.
My guide, Scotland: Stunning, Strange and Secret
can help you do exactly that. It’s on sale now for $5.99, down from $9.99. It includes some myth and history of Ireland, and tips and tricks to planning your own trip. It tells you how to get Pounds Sterling ahead of time, how to navigate the confusion of renting a car and getting insurance, and even how to buy a round at the pub!
What’s more, it’s chock-full of photos I’ve taken on my own trips to Scotland, as well as many hidden gems to find yourself, organized by county so you can plan appropriately. It even mentions some filming locations, such as for #Outlander or #MontyPython
#travel #Scotland #Scottish #guide #sale #summer #celtic