Scotland, Land of Adventure
Have you ever wondered how you’d look in a kilt? If the answer is yes there won’t be a better time to find out than in 2018.
Scotland is well known for ancient castles and ruins, and with hundreds to see across the country it’s easy to work several in to your Scottish experience. Since you’ll probably begin your tour in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, let’s begin with the best of the best, Edinburgh Castle.
There has been a castle at the top of Castle Rock in Edinburgh since the reign of David I in the 12th century. You will want to wear your comfortable shoes for the walk up the Royal Mile from Old Town Edinburgh to the Castle. I’d allow the better part of a day here, there are many great buildings to see and the Crown Jewels of Scotland as well. It’s all uphill from old Edinburgh up to the Castle, but on the way back down don’t pick up so much speed you go right past Holyrood Palace.
Holyrood Palace is the official residence of the Monarch of the United Kingdom in Scotland. It stands at the bottom of the Royal Mile, opposite the Castle. It’s the setting for state ceremonies and was also founded by David I (in 1128). Queen Elizabeth spends one week every summer here while she carries out a wide range of official engagements and ceremonies.
Also in Edinburgh and not to be missed is the Royal Yacht Britannia, which was once the royal residence for glittering holiday events and state occasions. I escorted a group to Scotland a few years ago and I can’t tell you how much we enjoyed our time onboard the Britannia. We had a lovely dinner after, and then stood on the spot where Mary, Queen of Scots, stood when she returned from France to claim her throne. All in all, a wonderful day.
Gretna Green is one of most unusual places I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. Back in the 1700’s if an underage person in England or Wales wanted to get married and their parents objected, they simply headed north to the Scottish village of Gretna Green. Scottish law provided that if two people agreed to be married before two witnesses they were legally married. The blacksmiths of Gretna Green became famous for marrying run-away English and Welsh teenagers. In fact, one of them is recorded to have married over 5,000 couples in these “irregular” marriage ceremonies.
The Scottish moors are a sight you’ll never forget. These highland areas lacking in both forestry and vegetation roll on beautifully as far as the eye can see, dotted with the occasional herd of sheep. Desolate, isolated, they seem to be the perfect place for contemplation and peace.
Glasgow is home to the most breathtaking Victorian architecture you’ll ever see. As a shopping center it is second only to London in the U.K., so if you’re souvenir shopping, Glasgow is the place to do it.
I know you think the Scots only eat Haggis, but in fact the culinary scene in Scotland is quite sophisticated. They do a fabulous job with beef and lamb, as well as salmon and fresh game.
It’s a well-kept secret, but did you know Scotland is the actual home of the game of golf? That’s right, golf goes back over 600 years and the Scots are very proud of their courses and heritage. In fact Scotland has over 550 courses that offer every possible level of challenge, and price.
I loved Floors Castle, built for the 1st Duke of Roxburghe in 1721. This marvelous estate overlooking the River Tweed was worth every moment of the several hours we spent there. Best of all we saw the current Duke walking across the front lawn with his dog, reminding us that this ancestral castle is still a home.
If you are fit and enjoy walking there is no destination that offers more hiking trails than Scotland. The degree of challenge is as diverse as the Scottish countryside, and odds are great you’ll become with a local along the route.
Wonderful tours of Scotland begin as low as 9 days from $1309 per person. Scotland is a marvelous destination, and easily affordable.
Joy Gawf-Crutchfield owns and operates The Joy of Travel LLC. Contact Joy at 918-339-4805