Aberdeen and Grampian
The “Granite City” is Scotland’s third largest and boasts great shopping and restaurants. Aberdeen is famous for its stunning buildings made of this sparkling stone. The Balmedie Beach is a short walk from the city centre. With sandy bays and rugged cliffs watch the seabirds or spot the dolphins playing in the harbour. The St Cyrus National Nature reserve is in the East, with rolling hills and open farmland, towering mountains coastal cliffs and all the city has to offer you Aberdeenshire is a place to be. Further afield you can find the Whisky Trail and Castle Trail, there are more castles here than anywhere else in the UK. Visit the Stately castles in Royal Deeside or the splendour of the Cairngorms National Park with waterfalls and wildlife, red squirrels, red deer, or if your lucky a golden eagle. The River Dee, River Don and River Deveron are a fishermans dream with Salmon and trout regularly caught. Winter tours around Balmoral castle or the galleries and Duff House in Banff.
Visitors are welcome at all the local golf courses, make time to enjoy the stunning scenery while playing the course.
A visit to Scotland would not be complete without enjoying the Whisky trail, watch how the whisky is made and enjoy a sample at the end of your tour at the Royal Lochnagar Distillery.
Angus and Dundee
A fascinating City with the 1 Billion waterfront development offering a fresh new look. The V&A Museum Of Design Dundee, due to open in 2018.
The journey hugs the coast through the towns and villages of Arbroath and Montrose. Visit the Arbroath Abbey Visitor Centre or the Arbroath miniature Railway which is the oldest passenger carrying miniature railway. View the migrating waders at Montrose Basin wildlife centre.
The gateway to the Glens Kirriemuir is best known as the childhood home of JM Barrie, creator of Peter Pan. The stunning Angus Glens of Isla, Prosen, Clova and Esk where you will be surrounded by sights to help you relax. This dramatic scenery is part of the Cairngorms National Park, well marked with walking trails that suit all levels of ability. You can also enjoy fishing, cycling, or skiing at the Glen Shee Ski resort.
From the industrial heritage of the city to the key role played in the Declaration of Independence, Dundee and Angus has museums, Abbeys and Castles which all share a part in the important history of this area.
Argyll and the Isles
The region is home to 23 inhabited islands. With seven National Nature Reserves you are in the best place to see Scotlands wildlife, including red deer, otters, seals, puffins, porpoises the golden eagle and the rare white tailed sea eagle. On the Isle of Tirree you can enjoy the white sandy beaches or join in with the watersports. If you enjoy a tipple then the Isle of Islays eight world famous whisky distilleries would be worth a visit as are the Campbelltown and Highland distilleries. On the Isle of Bute explore the interior of the fabulous Gothic Mount Stuart and Dunadd Fort. Known as ‘Eagle Island the Isle of Mull is one of the best places in Scotland to spot the Golden Eagle and white tailed sea Eagles.
Visit ruined castles in impossibly romantic locations, marvel at historic houses and gaze in wonder at Bronze Age standing stones. The landscape of Argyll and the Isles is dotted with signs of the past, including chambered cairns and cup-and-ring marked rocks. Grab a map and take your own journey into the history of this fascinating part of Scotland.A stunningly beautiful coast with varied terrain offering opportunities for cycling, hiking, fishing, and cruises. Attractions include Inverary Castle and Old Town Jail, Cruachan “Hollow Mountain” power station and Oban. Fantastic seafood restaurants and a variety of activities to enjoy.
Ayrshire and Arran
Ayrshire is one of the most agriculturally fertile regions of Scotland. Potatoes are grown in fields near the coast, using seaweed-based fertiliser, and in addition the region produces pork products, other root vegetables, and cattle and summer berries such as strawberries are grown abundantly.
Ayrshire shares with Dumfries and Galloway some rugged hills country known as the Galloway Hills. Glen Afton runs deep into these hills.
The area that today forms Ayrshire was part of the area south of the Antonine Wall which was briefly cooupied by the Romans during the reign of Emperor Antoninus Pius. An interesting historic building in Ayrshire is Turnberry Castle which dates from the 13th Century and is believed to be the birthplace of Robert the Bruce.
The area used to be heavily industrialised with steel making and coal mining and most famously Johnnie Walker whisky.
Ayrshire is best know for giving the region Robert Burns the first National Bard. Visit the Burns museum and his birthplace. Take a wander round the ancient castle or learn about Vikings who once set foot on these shores.
Just a short ferry ride across the Firth of Clyde and you can explore either Arran or Cumbrae. Experience perfect island life or enjoy the outdoor activities and spectacular views.
Dumfries and Galloway
Dumfries and Galloway is located in the Western Southern uplands. It comprises of the historic Counties of Dumfriesshire, Kirkcudbright and Wigtownshire.
If your looking for rolling hills and friendly towns this is the place for you. You will see the contrasting views of the rocky and sandy Solway Coast looking out across the see to the extensive forests and hills. Robert Burns was inspired by these views.
If you are a keen photographer have your camera ready when you spot the red kites in the sky, the red deer or red squirrels in the forest.
For outdoor enthusiast you can take your mountain bike and experience the forest path or take advantage of the windsurfing and yachting on offer. For the extreme enthusiast take the longest zipwire or for the less ambitious take a gentle stroll or cycle
Edinburgh and the Lothians
Scotland’s capital is known throughout the world for the famous Castle, Fringe Festival and Military Tattoo. With great shopping and visitor attractions it is always worth a visit. . The region is bursting with historical attraction. Out of the city you can explore some great coastal towns, such as North Berwick with its striking clifftop fortification, or the Blackness Castle nr Linlithgow to the Arniston House in Gorebridge and the Gadstones Land at the top of the Edinburghs Royal mile. and the Seabird Centre and Dunbar, the birthplace of John Muir and beginning of the John Muir Way walking trail where you can enjoy Belhaven Bay with the spectacular views of sandy beaches and landscapes. Portobellos pretty beach is a short distance away from the city centre. The Pentland Hills Regional Park is on the outskirts of the city. You may also like to visit the Polkemmet Country Parkland. You can climb to the top of Arthurs Seat, or enjoy the North Esk cycle loop by bike. At night the city is alive with bars, restaurants and the theatre. If you are visiting for the ever popular New Year celebrations you will not be disappointed.
St. Andrews is famed for its golf courses there are 50 to choose from and university of course wher our future king met his wife. There are some great historical sights to explore as well as a number of small towns and villages along the rugged north-east coast, castles, palaces, museums and galleries there is plenty to see, some hold Royal connections like Dunfermline Abby. Fifes key pioneers are Andrew Carnegie and Adam Smith.
You can follow the Fife Coastal Path right around the coastline stopping to enjoy Fifes towns and villlages all with their individual charm. From St Andrews to the quaint fishing village of Crail, Anstruther, Pittenweem, St Monans and Elie picturesque sea towns and villages all offering outdoor activities and plenty of wildlife.
Fife enjoys good farmland where you can pick your own berries or dine out on locally grown produce, caught seafood, craft beers, gins and whiskies can all be enjoyed when dining out here.
Glasgow and Clyde Valley
Glasgow is the place to be for young people. With great music and arts events at the SSE Hydro exhibition centre and venues across the city offering live music and comedy gigs throughout the year. Glasgow, voted the worlds friendliest city is the largest city in Scotland, and third-largest in the United Kingdom. A wealth of museums, galleries, gardens and a top shopping district make this a must visit. Home to over 90 parks and gardens, one to visit is the Strathclyde Country Park in Motherwell for a walk around the Loch. New Lanark is a great day out with the family. The Falls of Clyde Wildlife Reserve is also at New Lanark. The natural beauty of the falls and scenery is never forgotten. Go see the tall ship outside the Riverside museum which in itself is a trip back in time at this transport museum or visit the David Livingstone Centre in Blantyre.
If you prefer shopping in the centre then visit the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Tea Room called the Willow Tea Room on Sauchihall Street. The nightlife is vibrant with restaurants, bars and theatres for you to enjoy. The New Year Fireworks celebration is a spectacle to see.
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
Scotland’s first National Park is the perfect playground for those with a passion for outdoor pursuits. With fishing, cycling and walking trails, golf courses and more outdoor activities to experience. The Loch Lomond Sealife Centre is an enjoyable day out for families and there are Highland Games events on throughout the summer in many villages. Steeped in myths and legend, the Trossachs area became popular when Sir Walter Scott wrote the poem, “The lady of the Lake”. You can take a trip on the steamship named after the poem on Loch Katrine you can walk or cycle along the path running along the side of the Loch too. Another famous person living in this area was Rob Roy Macgregor whos grave lies at the Balquhidder Kirk. Rob Roy spent much of his time around Aberfoyle and Glen Gyle near Loch Katrine where he was a cattle breeder and herder but not always with his own cattle.Take a short boat ride to visit the Inchmahome Priory where Mary Queen of Scots visited.
Take a cruise on Loch Lomond with a great view of Ben Lomond, Scotlands most Southerly Munro. You could also climb Ben Lawers, Ben More, Ben Vorlich to name a few in the Park.
Trossachs refers to the area of sparkling lochs, mountainous terrain, forests and welcoming villages, To the East of the Loch Lomond you have the villages of Lochearnhead, Killin, Callander all hosting annual Highland Games and poplar summer events. Loch Earn is popular with the watersport enthusiast.
With 70 islands many uninhabited Orkney is a place to relax and enjoy the surrounding breathtaking beauty whatever the time of year. Neolithic sites allow you to step back thousands of years when you visit The Ring of Brodgar, the Maeshowe tomb and Skara Brae which few know is older than the pyramids. Wildlife is abundant with seals and seabirds a common sight. Orkneys people are friendly welcoming visitors for many years. With museums galleries, craft workshops there is plenty to do. Kirkwall is the largest town on the Island with its Viking cathedral, distillery and fishing port. Stromness being the second largest with winding streets, gift shops and art galleries. With award winning white sand beaches and the rugged cliffs towering the turquoise waters Orkney is the busiest flight path for migrating birds. You could also spot the dolphins and whales around the shoreline. Orkney is considered to be one of the best places in the UK to see the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis.
Set in the heart of Scotland Highland Perthshires main towns and villages are, Aberfeldy, Birnam, Blair Athol, Dunkeld, Pitlochry and Kinloch Rannoch. All within a short drive of each other.
With wonderous mountains, lochs and glens Perthshire showcases Scotland at its best. There is something for everyone from ancient castles, fishing on rivers and lochs, you can Tee off on some of the oldest golf courses in the World or walk in the ‘Big tree Country’ on paths and trails. You will not be short of adventure in this area of outstanding beauty. Perthshire offers year round entertainment and events. Pitlochry theatre has regular shows, and the enchanted forest light show in Fiscally Wood is a popular attraction, you need to book tickets way in advance.
Sitting along the banks of the River Tay, Perth is Scotlands newest city. With two public parks and a host of good eating places, and a vibrant shopping centre.
If you are here to see as much as you can, you are within easy reach of the cities Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness.
The city of Stirling is Scotland’s heritage capital where the wars of independence were fought and won. Towering over the city is the Old Town with historic buildings like the Old Town Jail the cobbled streets wind up to the impressive Stirling Castle where you will see the opulent royal apartments with costumed interpreters bringing the castle to life. You may also like to join in one of the ghost tours. From the castle you can stand and see for miles around with the Wallace Monument built to honour the freedom fighter William Wallace. Nearby is the Bannockburn visitor centre where you can experience the battle of Bannockburn a pivotal triumph over the English lead by Robert the Bruce in 1314.
The heritage mile links Stirlings Old Town to the modern city centre.
Stirlingshire is not all about the history though and there is a lively community, shopping, cinemas and more to enjoy in the city centre. There are also good rail links to Glasgow and Edinburgh. The wider Stirlingshire area encompasses a number of smaller villages and rural communities.
Inner and Outer Hebrides
The Hebrides on Scotlands west coast are known as the Inner and the Outer Hebrides , separated by the Minch to the north and the sea of the Hebrides to the South
The Outer Hebrides are the most westerly islands off the Scottish mainland and are in close proximity to each other. They consist of a chain of more than 100 islands and small skerries. The main regions are Lewis, Harris, North and South Uist, Taransay, Benbecula and St Kilda. Visit Harris and see the stone circle which predates the pyramids. If you like birds then St Kilda is the place to see a variety of birdlife and an abandoned village. Visit North Uist where 9000 seal pups are born every year. On Barra at Castle Bay you can see the Kisimul Castle once seat of the Macniel Clan.
The Inner Hebrides consist of 36 inhabited islands , lying closer to the mainland of Scotland, these islands are divided into the Northern Islands and the Southern Islands and include Islay, Jura, Skye, Mull Raasay, Staffa and the small isles. The Isle of Skye and a few of the smaller Islands form part of the Northern Inner Hebrides. Mull, Jura and Islay are in the Southern Inner Hebrides.
The Islands have an amazing natural awe inspiring beauty, the coastlines and landscapes are varied and dramatic. The Isle of Skye is the most popular of the Islands.
Eilean Donan castle is the most photographed but there are many other castle to see like Castle Moil or Dunvegan Castle, the longest inhabited Scottish Castle, still being inhabited by the Clan Macleod. The 1500 year old silk called the fairy flag and Rory Mor’s Horn can be seen here.
The Outer and Inner Hebrides hold appeal to historians and wildlife enthusiasts, with the natural beauty of the landscapes and views not to be forgotton.
The Scottish Borders also referred to as the Borders stretched from the Penland, Moorfoot and Lammermuir Hills marking the boundary with the Lothians in the North to the Ceviot Hills, running along the River Tweed marking the border with England in the South. This area is also referred to as the Southern Uplands along with Dumfries and Galloway. On the journey from England to Scotland you will see spectacular views over the Scottish Borders. The western side of the Borders has rolling hills and beautiful Lochs. The Central area of the Borders is more rural, go East where the area borders the North Sea to find the villages of St Abbs and Cove.
On the banks of the river Tweed you will find the villages of Peebles, Innerleithen and Melrose.
If you visit the borders for relaxation you will find it but if you want to take part in the outdoor pursuits on offer you can fish, walk, play golf or for the more extreme enthusiast try the 7 stanes centres for mountain biking or quad biking, archer and tree top adventure at Go Ape.
This rural setting and unspoilt coastline means that there is an abundance of tantalising food on offer so you may like to try the locally sourced produce prepared by a local chef along with a wee dram.
Scottish Highlands and Cairngorms National Park
As the name suggests the Scottish Highlands are known for the rugged mountainous terrain, including Scotland’s tallest mountain Ben Nevis. Winter sports enthusiasts won’t be disappointed by the Glen Coe ski resort, and for history buffs there is the Culloden battlefield. The Cairngorms National Park offer a variety of outdoor activities and a chance to get closer to some of the incredible wildlife in Scotland.
In the heart of the Scottish Highlands the Caringorms National Park has castles, distilleries and a great choice of outdoor activities, watersports and snow sports, Cycling the options are endless. For keen walkers the area is a place to be with the natural formation of gorges, mountains, forests, lochs, rivers and waterfalls, the many paths take you on a wonderous adventure.
If you like wildlife you need to know that Cairngorms is a great place to visit where you may see wild brown trout, Otters Ospreys, Eagles, Wildcats, Red Squirrels and Reindeer. Loch Garten is made famous by the Osprey Visitor Centre.
The Cairngorms Mountain Centre offers Skiing and snowboarding in the winter months ,during the summer months take advantage of a number of guided walks to explore this beautiful area.
The Shetland Isles made up of more than 100 Islands of which 15 are inhabited lie closer to Norway than the mainland of Scotland. The remote northern islands are a link between Scotland and Scandinavia. Visit the well preserved Mousa Broch, the internationally renowned Jarlshor and Old Scatness. Cultural events such as the Up Helly Aa Viking festival, the annual folk festival are held annually and complimented by a variety of great places to eat and drink with fresh food sources locally.
It was not only the Vikings that left their mark on Shetland, there are traces of ancient sketchings as far back as the Neolithic era you can visit these Neolithic sites, Iron age brochs, the standing stones, Pictish wheelhouses or a traditional croft house to take a journey through the ages.
With miles of breathtaking coastline, pristine beaches and crystal clear blue waters the Shetland Islands landscape is unlike any where else you may visit. For artists and photographers, poets or writers you will gain inspiration from the heather clad mountains, glistening sea lochs, the towering clifftops all creating a dramatic scene whatever the weather.
Fantastic Facts about Scotland
- Scotland’s national animal is the unicorn
- The oldest yew tree in the world (over 3000 years old) can be seen at Fortingall in Perthshire
- The oldest building in Scotland dates to 3100BC at Skara Brae
- The highest mountain is Ben Nevis at 4400ft
- Scotland’s motto is “Nemo Me Impune Lacessit” which translates as “No-one provokes me with impunity”
- The smallest distillery in Scotland is the Erdradour Distillery at Pitlochry
- St. Andrews is known as the home of golf with the first recorded rounds played there in the 15th Century
- The Old Course St Andrews dates to 1574, and is seen as a place of pilgrimage for golfers from around the world
- Scotland has produced many great inventors including John Logie Baird (Television: 1925), Alexander Graham Bell (Telephone: 1876), and Charles Rennie Macintosh (Raincoat: 1824)
- There are over 4000 registered tartan designs, although many of these have never been woven
- Mary Queen of Scots played billiards. First recorded order by Louis XI in 1470. After she was executed, her body was wrapped in a billiard cloth
- Bagpipes were imported from Rome 2000 years ago by Roman army
- The lawnmower was invented in Scotland
- Shortbread known from 12C but generally thought to have been refined use and name credited to Mary Queen of Scots 16C
- Black bun fruitcake covered with pastry. Origins Scottish was eaten at Twelfth Night but now associated with Hogmanay
- Scotland’s first licensed distillery was Glenlivet in 1823
- Ice skating began in Scotland. Primitive ice skates of bone and antler used by Scandinavian hunters as early as300 AD. In 1572 the first all-iron skates were manufactured in Scotland. The first skate club in Edinburgh dates from 1742