dunnottar castle.

10 of the best: Great Scottish Castles

My top 10 Scottish Castles It’s something that has come up time and again with visitors in conversation – just what are the best Scottish castles? A highly contentious issue for lovers of Scotland, lovers of landscapes, of history and of architecture. There is a hell of a lot to consider with this one and I’ve been back and forth several times. And here it is, my run-down of the top 10 Scottish Castles. Caerlaverock Castle The stunning visual appearance of Caerlaverock in Dumfries and Galloway makes this one a no-brainer. Moat and all, it is a joy to behold.
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edinburgh murrayfield stadium

A trip to Murrayfield Stadium

#blogmanay concludes with a trip to the home of Scottish rugby Relentless as our #blogmanay schedule was last week, a trip to Murrayfield Stadium was always going to be a personal highlight. The home of Scottish rugby and the stuff of wee peoples’ dreams across the country. Our hosts were good enough to set the team up with a tour of the heart of the stadium and tickets to one of the biggest games in the calendar – Edinburgh vs Glasgow Warriors. Admittedly I’m more of a football lad but I still enjoyed my fair share of rugby as a
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edinburgh blogmanay

The Hogmanay experience

The Edinburgh Blogmanay experience - the ultimate New Year party Hogmanay. Aside from the blank expressions of those not-in-the-know, it’s a word sure to trigger something between a subtle smirk and a gummy grin for anyone with previous of our annual party to end all parties. Every year in our capital begins and ends with an epic celebration that makes Edinburgh the best place to be for your start to the New Year. This year I’ve joined the #blogmanay team to cover 3 days’ worth of activities and events and here’s my download to this unique time of year. Bringing
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duncryne hill and loch lomond

A visit to Loch Lomond – the Ben, Duncryne Hill, Conic Hill and Glen Fruin

Why I Love Loch Lomond... The big freeze is on around Scotland. Barren landscapes, road closures and gigantic energy bills all make for a slightly sad outlook and a lot of whisky consumption. Time for some reflection of less hostile seasons, so here's one I wrote last summer and never had the opportunity to publish: Today's travels are bringing me a strange sense of comfort and familiarity. It’s a feeling that I’m at odds with. With the exception of my actual home in Glasgow, travel destinations tend to feel like exciting new adventures that will be sadly short lived. Nowhere
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glengoyne distillery blog

A visit to Glengoyne Distillery

Scotland's Best Whisky Distillery Tours - Glengoyne For this Scotsman, whisky is amongst the best things in the world. An endless adventure of different flavours, smells and textures. Just when you have a favourite region, or even brand, you stumble across a new vintage and that’s that. If you’re like me, there’s no known cure so embrace it fully and visit a whisky distillery. For first timers or veterans there are few better options than Glengoyne. With dozens of excellent distillery tours spread across the country, the challenge for the traveller is to find reasons to make the top ones
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stirling castle history view wallace monument

Is Stirling Castle the best in Scotland?

Stirling Castle's history and why it's one of Scotland's best Since the 12th Century Stirling Castle has been amongst the most important buildings in Scotland. Having grown up and gone to school nearby, I had this well drilled into me in the classroom and my repeat visits must be closing on three figures by now. There's something new every time. Strategically pivotal for military purposes, the fortress was fought over time and time again. Stirling sits proudly between the Highlands and Lowlands and therefore it has been said that whoever held Stirling Castle held Scotland. It maintains its importance to
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burrell collection

A visit to one of Scotland’s top art displays

Glasgow's Burrell Collection Blog A prominent member of my Glasgow city guides, the Burrell Collection is one of the most impressive of its kind in Europe. Shared by Sir William Burrell with the city in 1944, his collection covers a huge range of pieces and styles. It stands as one of Glasgow’s proudest possessions. Intricate tapestries, stained glass, medieval weapons, sculptures and paintings make the collection a true fest of art. Burrell’s life's work is a thing of fascination and admiration. Instruments of death in the same aisle as the Buddha and the Virgin Mary say it all about the
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isle of mull tobermory harbour

Why Mull is one of Scotland’s most popular spots

Things to do on the Isle of Mull The near-constant conveyor belt of Calmac ferries from Oban to Craignure would put Ryanair to shame. Even allowing for Iona day trippers, this has to be one of the busiest tourist routes in the country. So here’s a few reasons why. There’s only one place to start and it’s Mull’s pretty ‘capital’ of Tobermory. Famous for its boldly coloured waterfront buildings, it can proudly claim to be one of the most recognisable spots in all of Scotland. This is particularly true for certain generations thanks to the TV show Balamory. Don’t sing
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arisaig fishing boats.

Taking the Road to the Isles

Great Scottish Highland Road Trips: The Road to the Isles Round and round the roundabout. A Fort William roundabout. In a part of the world where coming off in any direction will present you with one of the finest drives in the world it has been a conundrum for many a spontaneous driver. On this occasion I know where I’m going though and can’t wait to immerse myself with The Road to the Isles – the drive between Fort William and Mallaig. Fort William has always been hugely popular for tourists. Being, to an extent anyway, the only real hub
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battle of bannockburn

Touring around some of Scotland’s top historical sights

A Scottish Independence Tour ‘Independence’ has been one of the most prominent words throughout these parts in the last weeks, months and years. Whether the result of the referendum left you pleased, angry, relieved, incredulous, unified, divided or just plain exhilarated it has been impossible to avoid. While much of the debate has focussed on current social and political issues there is no escaping the country’s long flirtation/fight with achieving an independent status. Convenient then that I take a tour around some of our most legendary independence sights with Invent Scottish Tours. Non-driving visitors to Scotland have often asked me
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culzean castle

Estates don’t come better than Ayrshire’s Culzean

Visiting Culzean Castle and Country Park “If I had a spare few million kicking about……” I wonder how many times those little words have been muttered wistfully on the grounds of Culzean Castle. Without doubt one of Scotland's favourite castles, Culzean boasts an enviable cliff top position overlooking the Atlantic and its vast grounds are also amongst the best in the country. While Scotland excels in this department, Ayrshire just may be the most unexpected jewel in the crown. Upon entry, you are barely in the door before you are in the heart of the armoury. Close to a thousand
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walking killiecrankie pass.

The great outdoors in Big Tree Country

Walking Killiecrankie Pass, Perthshire The Battle of Killiecrankie still evokes memories of school history projects and my wee mind trying to get a grasp of the complex and convoluted story of the Jacobites. Military history aside, the Pass of Killiecrankie is an outdoor lover’s haven. Surrounded by low peaks the walking route follows the River Garry along a beautiful gorge and is perfect for a little exertion all year round. It is at its vibrant best though in the autumn months. The Battle itself occurred during the first Jacobite uprising in 1689 and saw the Protestant and Catholic divide rear
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visit iona abbey.

Pilgrim or lover of the outdoors, the Isle of Iona is a must

There's more than one reason to visit Iona Iona has that powerful draw that puts conventional tourist destinations firmly in the shade. A centre of Christianity the tiny island is trumped only by Jerusalem in my own experience as a route to pilgrimage for the religiously devoted. The appeal does not end with religion though as Iona is one of Scotland’s most visually rewarding islands and, for first time visitors, the path to an addiction to the West coast. With spirituality in the air the short boat trip from Mull kicks off a day of soul therapy. I have no
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culross palace

A visit to the Royal Burgh of Culross

Stepping back in time in Culross From my time working in Belgium in recent years, I’ve often heard of the town of Bruges referred to as a place where time has stood still. Where seemingly little has changed over the years, decades and centuries. I see the Fife village of Culross as Scotland’s Bruges. Smaller certainly and minus the chocolate and beer worth retiring for, but still an amazingly preserved 16th and 17th Century coastal haven. The town’s top attraction is the Palace. Now, get that image of Buckingham Palace-esque buildings out of your mind immediately. Not that kind of
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caerlaverock castle blog.

Castle hunting in war-ravaged Southern Scotland

Caerlaverock Castle Not since I was in primary school have I seen its like before. Upon arrival at Caerlaverock Castle way down in the south of Scotland I’m faced with a brief documentary by none other than the wonderful Tony Robinson. That’s Baldrick from Blackadder, you remember. I can still recall the school TV room smell and those awful wooden-blocks-held-up-by-metal-bars-with-some-sort-of-plastic-coating seats that we had to perch on. The house lights would be dimmed (the vertical blinds were yanked to a semi-shut state), the TV is wheeled in (yes, wheeled, and by today’s standards it looks like something that might be
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what to do in scotland

Beginner’s guide to visiting Scotland

Where to go in Scotland - some early planning tips Ok Neil, help me, where in Scotland should I be going for the best bits? Some of my customers know exactly what they want and need from me, others haven’t a clue. So this is a familiar question in my inbox. Here’s my attempt at joining the early dots for some of the most popular reasons for coming to these shores.   The Outdoors “…..then I plan to spend the weekend in ‘the Highlands’.” Ah yes, but beware, this could mean just about anything. The Highlands are a vast, vast
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Exploring Glenfinnan and that famous view over Loch Shiel

Glenfinnan Monument and Loch Shiel It is one of the most famous images in Scotland and one certain to cause of jump of the heart for Harry Potter fans. Glenfinnan and the stunning view over Loch Shiel are the Scottish Highlands at their dramatic best. Historically significant as the starting point of the final Jacobite rising it is now also the highlight of one of the world’s great train journeys aboard the Jacobite Steam Train. In 1745, Bonnie Prince Charlie landed for the first time on the Scottish mainland near Glenfinnan and announced to his followers his intention to re-take
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The stunning panorama atop Dumbarton Rock

Why I wouldn't want to attack Dumbarton Castle Dumbarton Castle is one of the most under-hyped in Scotland. It doesn’t even get a mention in Lonely Planet’s Scotland guide, a glaring omission for this castle lover. Dramatically situated on Dumbarton Rock, the stunning panoramic views over the Firth of Clyde reveal much about the strategic importance of this spot in centuries past. The volcanic Dumbarton Rock is a powerful mass standing at 240 feet. The idea of putting a military stronghold on it has to be an act of genius. Although the many steps now pose problems for the less
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highland games

The Scottish Highland Games experience

A day out at the Stirling Highland Games By mid-August, Highland Games season is slowly drawing to a close for 2014. Of the lowland ones I have attended, Stirling comes out top for me this year. A terrific setting, surprisingly good catering options and a nice range of activities make for a great day out. Of course the scale of some of the Highland Games in the north are without equal but for accessibility to the central region, there is still much to love about those further south. The Stirling Highland Games have moved recently to the Sports Village to
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applecross peninsula

Scotland at its most naturally brilliant

Another Great Scotland Road Trip - Ullapool to Applecross The latest in the series of Great Scottish Drives, this one is truly a jaw dropper of a road trip. Ullapool is as close as you are likely to get to a proper hub in this stretch of Scotland’s west coast so make sure you’ve got all necessary supplies (and petrol!) from the town before setting off. This is a journey that is stunning pretty much from start to finish. No thesaurus of words for ‘beautiful’ would ever be big enough, so I’ll try to keep the gushing to a minimum
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