Map of Scotland
Royal Scotland Flag
Anyone who has ever been lucky enough to visit Scotland knows why it is a gem. There is no one thing to love...there are a million things to love!
So first and foremost we must pay tribute to the Scots. Most others countries I've visited were not near as friendly aka France. Sorry to all the Francophiles! But agree with me or not the French are not known for their manners. The Scots are always just a joy to be around. They seem to have a sense of who they are and a good sense of humor. Course they may be having a laugh on you when you apologetically have to ask repeatedly, "Sorry what did you say?" (Don't even attempt with the glaswegian accent).
As you can tell from the map up above there is a lot of land to cover. Any direction you go, north, south, east, or west, you'll stumble upon something wonderful. The sister cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, the far north islands of Shetland and Orkney, the west highlands and Isle of Skye, St. Andrews, or the Isle of Islay with nine single malt distilleries!
So after the Scots there should be a tribute to the Scottish castles too! Some of the few in the photos include Edinburgh Castle where Queen Mary of Scots last ruled before she had an untimely run-in with her cousin Queen Elizabeth and lost her head. Then Holyrood which is the official Edinburgh residence of Queen Elizabeth II when she is in town. She like her great- great grandmother Queen Victoria, prefers her Balmoral home in the Scottish highlands. Then Stirling castle in the fourth largest city in Scotland. (News flash to Americans make sure you say that Stirling is a city. They get quite cross if you don't). William Wallace and Andrew de Moray fought the Battle of Stirling Bridge on September 11, 1297 against King Edward Longshanks' army. It was the first battle for Scottish independence which resulted in a glorious victory for Scotland. If you need more of a visual look into Braveheart. Its not historically accurate but it's definitely a good film!
Scone Castle (Pronounced Scoon) is mainly where the Kings and Queens of Scotland were crowned upon the stone of Scone. Naturally you cannot visit Scotland without going to Urquhart Castle, nearby Inverness, that overlooks Loch Ness. Keep an eye out for Nessie! Then one of the most photographed castles in Scotland is Eileen Donan. The picture doesn't quite do it justice but it comes close!
The only way someone has never heard of Sean Connery is because they've lived under a rock. Having a scotsman play the English James Bond must have been an extreme twist of fate. But don't forget that there are many more famous Scots that are a tribute to their country and heritage. Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting, Down with Love, and Star Wars), Deborah Kerr (An Affair to Remember), Robert Burns (Scotland National Poet), Bram Stoker (author of Dracula), Sir Walter Scott (Ivanhoe), Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes), Tilda Swinton (The Lion, The Witch, and the Wadrobe), Robert Lewis Stevenson (Treasure Island), Robert the Bruce (Once King of Scotland), William Wallace (hero at battle of Stirling Bridge), Sir Alexander Graham Bell, Alan Cummings (Golden Eye), James McAvoy (Atonement, Last King of Scotland), Gerard Butler (The Phantom of the Opera), Susan Boyle (breakout singer) and the list goes on...
Though there are around 5 million Scots living in Scotland today, people have estimated that as many as 10 million people in the U.S. and Canada have scottish heritage. Look out the redheads are coming!!
Love those Kilts!!
St. Andrews Golf Course
Landscape and History
Queen Victoria loved Scotland so much that after her initial visit, Prince Albert bought Balmoral as their 'family' home. Indeed her visit actually brought a lot of Scottish vitality. The Scottish peerage wanted to impress the Queen so they went to work fixing up their homes and roads just for her visit. Penrith is a town that you can see the improvements made for that momentous occasion.
Take the time to see Ben Nevis the tallest peak in the United Kingdom, which stand at about 1,343m. Glencoe is another beautiful area though the place of tragedy between the Campbells and MacGregors. The landscape in the highlands is unparalleled. With about 790 islands comprising Scotland only 190 are really inhabited. It's a strange and wondrous landscape. The wind can blow quite harshly but it stirs you to explore the land before you.
Then who can forget St. Andrews? or the University? It is the home of golf in addition to the first university in Scotland. (established around the 1100s.) Alma mater of Prince William. St. Andrews is a wonderful town that has many interesting people inhabit. Mainly due to the University Students but also the golf enthusiasts. Then Glasgow University, which looks like quite a bit like Hogwarts. Alma mater to Adam Smith and Gerard Butler.
Since we can't go into the entire history of Scotland a few things will be mentioned. Macbeth was not really as bad as Shakespeare made him out to be. Truly! The Scottish court and French court created an 'auld alliance' around the 1160s due to their common enemy, England. This 'auld alliance' changed when Henry VII had his daughter Margaret marry James IV of Scotland. His granddaughter Mary, Queen of Scots tried to revive the 'auld alliance' when she married the Dauphin of France but it didn't quite work out. So in other words England had to constantly look to the North and South for attacks. Until 1603 Scotland had it's own monarchy. The cousin of Queen Elizabeth, James VI became James I, thus forever uniting the two crowns.
Beauty to behold
The wee trinkets
Just to add some other special treats about Scotland.
1) Dogs: Scottish Wolfhounds are fine but the cutest dogs are the Westies and Scotties!
2) Shortbread Biscuits
3) Haggis (Give it a try to then ask what it is)
4) Single Malt Whiskey (When you know what Haggis is put this on it and it will be delicious!!)
Kilts and Bagpipes
The is hub would not be complete without discussing two of Scotland's most famous symbols: kilts and bagpipes. Every family in Scotland has a certain tartan/plaid/kilt that symbolizes their family. It's not just a Catholic school girl trend. Originally the kilt made from sheep's wool identified you with your clan, thus providing you with a home and security. The intricate system of clans lived in certain areas. Each clan had a number of allies and enemies, example the infamous fights between the MacGregors and Campbells. Then rifts between Lowlanders and Highlanders also signified your heritage. Lowlanders being those from Dumfries, Glasgow, and Edinburgh areas. Highlanders...well do I really even need to explain that?? The kilt had many uses but the two most significant as clothes and then a blanket. Thus the beginning of Scottish frugalness.
The bagpipes are one of the hardest instruments to learn. Mainly because you must be strong. But take the time to listen and to enjoy the bagpipes. If you hear them while you look out at the mist in Edinburgh it can give you goosebumps. They are a powerful instrument that once use to call men to battle. Now they are used in parades, funerals, and tattoos. The Edinburgh Tattoo held in late summer is one of the greatest extravaganzas in Europe
Where a heart shall ever be...
In conclusion I should leave you with a poem by Robert 'Rabbie' Burns the official poet of Scotland but this poem by Charles Nicol resonates much more with why Scotland is a special place and how it steals your heart away.
Dear Auld Scotland by Charles Nicol
Scotland my native land so fair
Thy hills an' mountains I adore,
Thy scenery is grand an' rare,
An' brings to min' the days of yore.
To gaze upon the sparkling fountains
An' see the waters flowing there
Then upon the lofty mountains,
Few kingdoms can with thee compare.
Where is the country you can name,
Can boast of such warriors brave,
Who fought to gain their country fame
From the cradle to the grave.
Such men as Wallace brave an' true,
An' Bruce the hero of Bannockburn,
Aye, an' the brave Black Douglas too,
For these auld Scotland oft did mourn.
Oh, Scotland fair. Land of the free,
Where we've got the Thistle so dear,
Likewise the Lily, the Hawthorn Tree,
An' the sparkling water so clear.
An' tho' I yet may be from home,
However far that it may be,
Thro' all the places that I roam,
Scotland will still be dear to me.
Kathleen Cochran from Atlanta, Georgia on April 06, 2015:
This Cochran on my father's side and Hamilton on my mother's side really enjoyed this quick tutorial of my original homeland. Thanks for the info. I'm on my way next September and can not wait! Is there a greeting or way of saying thanks that I can learn ahead of time so I sound like a native? (or at least not an ugly American on her first visit?!)
Acho on January 21, 2015:
Nothing gets my juices going than some guy in cnkluy hiker/workman boots and a kilt (not plaid even) just oot and aboot doing his shopping or baby sitting or whatever..... mmmmmmm.... They say it is a skirt if he wears undies but a kilt if he is ... er.... hanging loose.Men in the west have no idea how many ladies love kilts ......
Kendall H. (author) from Northern CA on February 13, 2013:
Glad you enjoyed this TravelinJack! Scotland is certainly a place close to my heart as it seems from other commenters too! I'll be sure to check out your hub!
Jack Baumann from St. Louis, Missouri on January 06, 2013:
I love this hub!! I had to buy a kilt myself when I was in Scotland. I actually just finished a hub of British castles, several of which are Scottish castles. Check the ranking out and let me know if you agree. Voted up!
Meagan on March 29, 2012:
the feud of glencoe was between the campbells and the macdonalds, not the macgregors. I'm a macdonald on my mothers side, I grew up with the story of the massacre of glen coe :) I'm a small town Scots girl through and through and it is so nice to see so many beautiful things written about my home and my people! I've been living in NYC for a year and although I love it, I am constantly homesick. it's so touching to see how many people care about my home, and your beautiful writing and pictures brought a tear to my eye :) thank you! my grandad always told me that Scottish was knowing when you're home. I can't wait to go home again!
Kendall H. (author) from Northern CA on December 22, 2011:
Thank you annlynn9 for your thoughtful comment! Yes the scots are wonderful and welcoming people :) I would agree listening to music or films trains your ear for speech patterns. When I left glasgow after my semester abroad I found that when writing emails in my head the words would be sounded out like I was a Scot. Can't wait to go back one day :)
annlynn9 from Pennsylvania on October 07, 2011:
Anyone who wants to get a better understanding of Scottish language should listen repeatedly to some good Scottish vocalists such as The Corries, Carl Peterson, and Madelaine Cave while reading the text of their songs. If you like to sing, try singing along. I listened to and sang along with Scottish music long before my husband and I visited the country, and quite honestly Glasgow was the only place I had any real trouble understanding folks.
Now, driving was different. Every time we were in large towns and cities we had difficulty even finding the street signs because there is no consistency in either the way they look or where they are placed. In one place, we missed the exit from the round-about we were in. We pulled over and I noticed, as I looked at a map, that an older gentleman was walking across the street in our direction. I excused myself and asked if he could help. He saw the map and said, "Ooooh, ah've just come oot o' the eye doctor's, an' I canna see a thing." I apologized and said that was okay, to which he said further, "Oh, noo, noo. What're ye lookin' fer?" When I told him, he instructed thus: "Turn rrroond aboot, go bahk to the rrroond-about, go rrroon' to the third exit, ahn' git ahf."
Love the language and absolutely love the people!
Kendall H. (author) from Northern CA on October 03, 2010:
Thanks Jamie! Glad you enjoyed reading! The scots are a fun group!
Jamie on October 02, 2010:
Great article! I'm so glad you mentioned the Scots because they really are a friendly and charming group. And I laughed when you mentioned having to ask what they said, because I've been talking to a Scot, and I really do ask repeatedly.
Kendall H. (author) from Northern CA on August 18, 2010:
Thanks GmaGoldie! I absolutely love Scotland and it was a pleasure to write a hub about everything Scottish! I hope you get to see it one day! Thanks for reading!
Kelly Kline Burnett from Madison, Wisconsin on August 17, 2010:
Five stars - awesome! Your love for this country overflows and makes want to see these great sites - the scenery and the history - oh, my! Super Hub!
Kendall H. (author) from Northern CA on May 19, 2010:
That sounds wonderful Trish! I'd love to vacation to Scotland every year, but France has wonderful charms of it's own. I'm sure each trip has wonderful adventures. Scotland truly is magical! :)
Tricia Mason from The English Midlands on May 19, 2010:
Scotland is a fantastic Country.
I used to holiday there every year with my family, when I was a young girl. It felt like being in a magical land.
I'm glad you like it, too!
I love France, as well, though.
We go there every year now! :)
Kendall H. (author) from Northern CA on March 26, 2010:
So glad you enjoyed the hub James! It's always a pleasure to write about Scotland!
James A Watkins from Chicago on March 26, 2010:
I so enjoyed this fine piece of work. Your photographs and your writing are both grand. Thank you for this treat.
Kendall H. (author) from Northern CA on March 21, 2010:
Thanks elayne001! Scotland is an absolutely enchanting place. I hope you were able to find records of your ancestors! I love all castles but there is just something about Scottish castles :) Glad you enjoyed the hub and thanks for reading!
Elayne from Rocky Mountains on March 21, 2010:
Loved your hub. I was lucky enough to travel there last year with my husband and father. We were looking for our records of our ancestors. I just loved it and want to return some time. Beautiful photos. I have been to some of those castles.
Kendall H. (author) from Northern CA on February 04, 2010:
Thanks! It's a very relaxing atmosphere. Makes me laugh too that most photos have sunny days, which is somewhat rare in Scotland. :)
Rebecca E. from Canada on February 03, 2010:
makes me want to go there now. these pictures are just so relaxing.
Kendall H. (author) from Northern CA on February 01, 2010:
I studied abroad at Glasgow during college and loved traveling around both north and south. I can certainly agree with the whisky factory tours. Those will make anyone smile at the end of the day! Glad you enjoyed it!
missmaudie from Brittany, France on February 01, 2010:
I've never been to Scotland, I'm a softie southerner and never been that far north, but there is so much information here. I'd love to go actually, my grandmother certainly enjoyed touring the whisky factories when she went! Very interesting hub.
Kendall H. (author) from Northern CA on January 29, 2010:
It is absolutely worth it to visit Scotland! Both England and Scotland are wonderful. Glad you enjoyed the hub europewalker!
europewalker on January 29, 2010:
I would love to visit Scotland. Next time I head back to England for a visit I will try to make it to Scotland. I am a big fan of castles,kings and queens.
Kendall H. (author) from Northern CA on January 25, 2010:
I couldn't have said it better myself, Jane. Every time I go to Scotland this unexplicable feeling of knowing I'm home comes over me. There truly are so many reasons to love Scotland. Glad you liked the pictures too!
Kendall H. (author) from Northern CA on January 24, 2010:
Absolutely a trip to Scotland is in order! I know you'll enjoy it! I too didn't know that Doyle was Scottish but while doing research I came upon that fact. Glad you enjoyed it E. Nicolson!
Ann Leavitt from Oregon on January 24, 2010:
Visiting Scotland was like "coming home to a place I'd never been before." Stirling Castle was magnificent and the city itself and surrounding fields brought to life all the brave Scottish history I had studied for years. You listed all the reasons Scotland is so close to my heart. Excellent article; your pictures were my favorite part-- brought back so many good memories and really makes me want to go back there someday!
E. Nicolson on January 24, 2010:
An informative and inspiring article. I will get there one of these years; the heritage insists :) I did not know that Arthur Conan Doyle was Scottish.