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Scotland

Scotland

Great Destination:

5

Value for Money:

2.5

Total Stars:

7.5

Personality Types that Like it Best

Broad appeal but especially to Mid-Venturers, Centric-Venturers and Centric-Authentics

Did you know … ?

  • Scotland exports about 85 million gallons of Scotch a year.
  • Scots developed Clydesdale horses, Shetland ponies, Aberdeen-Angus cows and Collies.
  • A kilt is made with up to eight yards of fabric.
  • Scotland’s Parliament once tried to squelch golf; the English twice banned bagpipes.
  • The St. Andrews Golf Club, founded 1754, set the golf round at 18 holes.

Of kilts and golf

Talk about Scotland, and widely varied images spring to mind — kilts, whiskey, golf, the Highland fling, haggis, the Loch Ness monster, as well as historical figures, such as Mary, Queen of Scots or the poet, Robert Burns. For many North Americans, it also is the land of their ancestors.

The Lowlands and border country are the world found in novels by Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson and in Burns’ poetry. Also, William Wallace, Robert the Bruce and Rob Roy (think of the films “Braveheart” and “Rob Roy”) and their countrymen fought the English here when they weren’t building solid, haunting castles or sipping Scotch whiskey.

By the 14th century, golf had arrived on British shores. Today, avid players make special trips to swing their clubs in Scotland.

As for cities, Glasgow is a thriving metropolis, but a bit too commercial for most tourists. In contrast, Edinburgh is almost too picturesque — but no one is complaining. The Old Town’s narrow streets meander inside the ancient Flodden wall, and all is dominated by Edinburgh Castle. Newer development, from the 18th century, offers squares, wide boulevards and public gardens.

Farther north, the Highlands — with considerably fewer people — display fierce peaks and nurture unique wildlife, Celtic myth and independent personalities. The past reveals itself in Stone Age caves, Iron Age forts and ruined castles, but man hasn’t spoiled this magnificent mountain wilderness accented by sea lochs and rushing rivers; it’s still perfect for fishing and hiking.

Visitors admire golden eagles, red deer, pine marten and other species found nowhere else. And they look in dark Loch Ness for the strangest creature of all, “Nessie” the monster.

The Hebrides Islands, the Orkneys and Shetlands are accessible by ferry. Their residents speak Gaelic, make their living fishing and tending farms called crofts and gather for ceilidhs, sessions devoted to Scottish dancing plus some poetry or storytelling.

The Highlands and the northern islands attract the venturesome sort. Those at the middle of the personality scale applaud the variety of sightseeing and activities in Scotland while the least venturesome are awed by the scenery and most impressed by the friendly people.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Climbers note: Ben Nevis, the highest peak in Scotland, has a granite mass more than 500 million years old. It dominates the landscape above Fort William, where the climbing path begins, and it will take longer to climb than you might think.
  • Try your hand at falconry and archery; hunt pheasants and grouse.
  • For an unusual sport, take up weaseling, which involves squeezing into and through small rocky spaces. Or choose rock climbing, for which a definition is not required.
  • Try land yachting, also known as Blokarting or x-sailing. As the first name suggests, you will travel over land, and with new lightweight machines, you can move at nearly 100 mph or, on ice, your speed can approach 150 mph. Take instruction before setting out. Land yachting can be dangerous, especially as the equipment has no brakes.
  • Do you prefer to pursue your adventure while sitting down? Order haggis for lunch. (Haggis is a meat dish boiled in a bag made from a sheep’s stomach.)
  • Buy a kilt and wear it when you get home if you dare. You can have a kilt made using your family’s tartan, but, if you don’t like the family plaid or don’t have one, Black Watch will do very nicely.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Visit a working distillery; more than 40 active distilleries welcome visitors. In Edinburgh, tour the Scotch Whiskey Heritage Centre to see the process that turns malted barley and spring water into this very important Scottish export.
  • Sample game foods indigenous to Scotland: goose, hare, partridge, pheasant or venison. Or, plan a trip that follows any of several designated food or drink trails. They include cheese and whiskey trails.
  • Get thee to Loch Ness and find out if you are the person who can see the Loch Ness monster and prove it is real. For a reality check, visit the Official Loch Ness 2000 Exhibition Centre or the Original Loch Ness Monster Exhibition Centre, both in Drumnadrochit.
  • If you have a curiosity about traditional Scottish music and dance, several hotels and clubs in the cities put on ceilidhs. Or, find a ceilidh in a traditional pub where you can join the singing.
  • Attend the World Haggis Hurling Championships, in which contestants, from atop whiskey barrels, toss animal innards great distances.
  • Get married or register your civil partnership in a Scottish castle, on a Highland glen or at any of a number of other romantic settings.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Golf at St. Andrews or any of Scotland’s legendary courses. Get your tee times well in advance so you won’t be disappointed.
  • Join an Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour, an evening event that, through the scripted performances of two professional actors, provides new insights into the greats of Scottish literature, along with some beer (in “two spectacular pubs”) and plenty of laughs. The Scottish Literary Tour Trust produces this and other similar events.
  • Visit the Burns Cottage, the poet Robert Burns’ birthplace, which is the centerpiece of the Burns National Heritage Park in historic Alloway. Better yet, attend the annual Burns an’ a’ That festival in the park.
  • Try foods for which Scotland is famous, such as Aberdeen Angus beef, salmon, Shetland lamb, porridge and summer berries.
  • Go bird-watching. See the ospreys in the Cairngorms National Park. Participate in a guided walk led by the local ranger service.
  • Attend any of a number of food and drink events — such as wine and cheese tastings, cooking classes, gourmet seafood trail, festivals — slated to occur throughout Scotland during the two September weeks of the annual Scottish Food Fortnight. The events promote fresh seasonal Scottish foods.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult VisitScotland at www.visitscotland.com and VisitBritain at www.visitbritain.com  To find a knowledgeable travel agent at www.visitscotland.com, click on Plan Your Trip to find the button that says Find a Travel Expert, click to choose your country and begin the search. Or, in the U.S., just go to www.visitscotland.com/en-us/vacations/scotsagents?country=US