Welcome to my Scotland page! This page was inspired by a trip my husband and I took to Scotland in May 1998. We really loved it there, and I wanted to share some of our experiences and photos, along with some fun Scottish links! (No, not the golf courses! lol!)
First a bit about the thistle...how it became a Scottish symbol is a great story. It seems some
marauding Vikings were trying, yet again, to invade Scotland. Having been driven back on every attempt thus far, the Vikings opted for a surprise night raid. Stealthily they came across the dark moor toward the slumbering Celt warriors....and then one of the barefoot Vikings stepped on a thistle. His yelps of pain awoke the Celts, who thwarted what proved to be the final Viking invasion. And ever since, the humble thistle has been Scotland's symbol!
We spent several days in Edinburgh, a really lovely old city. We strolled up and down the Royal Mile, wandered through the Princes Street Gardens, visited Edinburgh Castle (where we had a fun visit with our friend Maj. Gavin Stoddart, the Queen's Piper), the Whisky Heritage Center (where we sampled a "wee dram!"), St. Giles Cathedral, the Brass Rubbing Center, Calton Hill Monuments and Observatory, and of course, several shops and restaurants!
One of my favorite places in Edinburgh was a little Edwardian tea shop called Forsyth's Tea Room, down a little alley (called a "close") and right by the Brass Rubbing Center. It was owned and operated by an extremely delightful lady named Christina Forsyth. Her tea was wonderful, her desserts to die for, and the whole experience was like stepping into an earlier century...
We rented a car and drove up into the Highlands. We stayed at a B&B on a working sheep farm overlooking Loch Lomond...(and yes, the banks are bonny!) We also spent a couple of days in the area of Loch Ness. It was one of our favorite places! The scenery is breathtaking. We visited Urquhart Castle in a swirling mist...there was a lone bagpiper playing..the sound of his pipes carried eerily through the fog...the castle ruins would appear and then disappear through the veil of mist...it was magical. The next day we took a boat tour of the Loch, and got to see Urquhart from a
different perspective in the bright sunshine. No, we didn't see the monster..which the locals call "Each Uisge" (pronounced, more or less, "Esh Ooshga")..."water horse" in Gaelic.
We visited several lovely castles in Scotland...some in ruins, like Urquhart and Kilchurn. Others still lived in, like Cawdor Castle (whose charming motto is "Be Mindful!"). Glamis Castle is the most haunted castle in Europe. Blair Castle was one of the most beautiful, inside and out. The gardens and forests of Blair Castle are magnificent. At Scone (pronounced "Scoon") Palace near Perth, we saw 2 albino peacocks! We also visited haunting and tragic Glen Coe, arriving there during a violent thunderstorm. The locals said they'd never seen anything like it before, and we learned later that a hiker became disoriented in the storm and died of exposure. The Scottish Highlands are nothing to trifle with, but they are magnificent.
We made it as far north as Inverness, and while in that area we stayed with Hamish and Margaret
MacLean, who in addition to owning and operating a lovely B&B, also own a working sheep farm. Hamish is an International sheepdog trial champion, and we had the honor of a private demonstration by two of his border collies, Glen and Tessa. They were amazing to watch in action, and we loved hearing Hamish say, "Coom by, Tessa!" and talk about herding the sheep "widdershuns." :-)
While in the Inverness area, we also visited the Culloden Battlefield,the scene of the bloody end of the 1745 Jacobite uprising. And we visited Clava Cairns, an ancient burial site (dating from the 3rd and 4th Milennia BC!), as well as the Dallas Dhu Whisky Distillery. We happened to be there at the same time a Rolls Royce club was meeting, and had the thrill of seeing about 20 vintage Rolls (the oldest being a 1929 Playboy) lined up, twinkling in the sun!
It was a wonderful trip...we saw incredible scenery, met some terrific people, and can't wait to go back! There is so much of Scotland still to explore....I hope you will visit some of the links I've gathered and take a look at my photo album... and haste ye back! :-)