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  • Paul2001's Profile Photo

    Hiking in the Scottish Highlands

    by Paul2001 Updated Jul 17, 2013

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: Hiking in the Scottish Highlands is something that I have always had a romantic notion about doing. This does not mean I was going to ignore that problems with the weather that Scotland is notorious for but I was not going to let it stop me. When I did get to the Highlands it did rain some but only during one morning would I say I found that weather was beyond reason in terms of walking. I found that a bigger problem was that at times that bus schedules were not as frequent as my travel guide said they were.

    Fondest memory: I found that the highlands had much more vegetation than I had imagined. Many trails went through heavily wooded valleys. Often flowers were in bloom.

    Mountain near Fort William Farm land near Fort William Mountain in the Rain south of Fort William Path through a wooded valley Mountain Valley near Fort William
    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking

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  • JessH's Profile Photo

    Scotland on celluloid: Movie Recommendations

    by JessH Updated Apr 5, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: Few countries can match Scotland when it comes to dramatic scenery: the beauty of the Highlands just begs for romance and mystery... and the historic streets of Edinburgh and Glasgow just lend themselves perfectly to crime and thriller stories...

    Are you in need of a "Scotland fix"? Then I recommend watching some of these movies:

    > Whisky Galore! (1949):
    Hilarious movie based on a true story, came but a matter of years after the actual event took place when 50,000 cases of whisky were stranded after the ship carrying them sank; much to the delight of the local inhabitants.

    > Kidnapped (1971):
    With the infallible Michael Caine.

    > The Wicker Man (1973):
    The original, (not the one with Nicholas Cage!) with Christopher Lee.

    > Chariots of Fire (1981):
    The true story of two British track athletes competing in the 1924 Summer Olympics.

    > Local Hero (1983):
    The cast, featuring Burt Lancaster, are an absolute delight.

    > Highlander (1986):
    Starring Sean Connery & Christopher Lambert, featuring the famous Eilean Donan Castle... there can only be ONE!

    > The Big Man (1990)
    An unemployed Scottish miner (Liam Neeson) is forced into bare-knuckle boxing to make ends meet.

    > Shallow Grave (1994):
    This deliciously dark comedy-thriller was a rollercoaster ride through Edinburgh's New Town.

    > Braveheart (1995):
    The tale of William Wallace, a Scottish hero who helped rally his people to fight against those nasty English! OK, so this movie wasn't historically accurate and Mel's Scottish accent was painful at times, but this movie did wonders for tourism! And Patriotism! Freeeeeeedom!

    > Rob Roy (1995):
    Less critically acclaimed, but a true gem of a movie, this stars Liam Neeson as Rob Roy and Jessica Laing as his wife Helen... I may be a bit biased here... Rob Roy McGregor was one of my husband's ancestors after all... ;-)

    > Trainspotting (1996):
    This is the film of the book by Irvine Welsh, originally set in Edinburgh but brought to Glasgow for the screen version. It catapulted Ewan McGregor into stardom.

    > Loch Ness (1996):
    With Ted Danson. Not a riveting film, but you cannot beat the scenery and the magic of the legend.

    > Mrs Brown (1997):
    An intriguing and insightful exploration of the relationship between Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) and John Brown (comedian Billy Connolly).

    > The Debt Collector (1999):
    Fantastic performance by funny-man Billy Connolly; gritty and dark, just like the streets of Edinburgh... Billy! Again! Who knew he could act? This is such a great movie.

    > Mr Life so Far (1999):
    starring Colin Firth.

    Fondest memory: > The Da Vinci Code (2003):
    Based on Dan Brown's bestseller, Tom Hanks discovers the secrets of Roslyn Chapel (just north of Edinburgh).

    > Young Adam (2003):
    Sexy movie with great acting performances by Ewan McGregor and Tilda Swinton... and yes, Ewan McGregor takes his clothes off ONCE AGAIN.

    > Harry Potter:
    The stunning surrounding of Glencoe served as the movie location for this big screen favourite. The Glenfinnan Viaduct is also shown for the famous Hogwarts Express train. Actually, filming for three of these movies were done in Scotland!

    > The Flying Scotsman (2006):
    The true story of Graeme Obree, the Champion cyclist.

    > The Water Horse (2007):
    A delightful tale of a young boy who rescues and befriends a "baby Nessie"... it has the feel-good factor... love it!

    > The Stone of Destiny (2008):
    The story of Ian Hamilton, a dedicated nationalist who reignited Scottish national pride in the 1950s with his daring raid on Westminster Abbey (London) to bring the Stone of Scone back to Scotland.

    > Made of Honour (2008):
    Delightfully brainless and carefree chick-flick, but with stunning scenery and plenty of hot men in kilts!

    > Burke & Hare (2010):
    A modern-day adaptation about Edinburgh's most famous body snatchers and serial killers. Starring the hilarious Sean Pegg.

    > The Eagle (2011):
    In Roman-ruled Britain, a young Roman soldier endeavours to honour his father's memory by finding his lost legion's golden emblem.

    This is me! Filming in Scotland! (2008)
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Castles and Palaces
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons

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  • JessH's Profile Photo

    Famous Scots & Inventions - in History and Today

    by JessH Updated Apr 3, 2012

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: When I first met my Scotsman I was soon invited to his parents' house for dinner. One of the things I immediately noticed was a large dish-towel about Scotland, proudly displayed on their fridge. During a coffee-break I started reading it & became totally fascinated by the list of inventions that we all use every-day, have made modern-day life more comfortable, have furthered the field of medicine and are all - you guessed it - Scottish!

    Their dish-towel was called "Wha's like us" - I won't list the entire text here, but you can visit this website for details: Wha's like us.
    The fact that so much has been invented by Scots only adds to their overwhelming patriotism and national pride... oh gosh, just don't get them started on the subject... haha!

    Here are some famous historical figures AND inventors from Scotland:

    > Lord MacBeth (c.1005 - 1057)
    The last of Scotland's Gaelic Kings.

    > Robert the Bruce (1274 - 1329)
    Crowned King of Scotland in 1306, he defeated the English king Edward II at Bannockburn in 1314.

    > William Wallace (1274 - 1305)
    Outlaw & defender of Scottish independence (portrayed by Mel Gibson in the movie "Braveheart").

    > John Knox (1505 - 1572)
    Churchman and father of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland.

    > Rob Roy McGregor (1671 - 1734)
    Famous Scottish freedom fighter (portrayed by Liam Neeson in the movie "Rob Roy").

    > John McAdam (1756 - 1836)
    Surveyor & road builder. Developed the process of "Macadamisation"; covering a road with small broken stones to form a hard surface. This led to tarmacadam (or Tarmac).

    > Robert Burns (1759 - 1796)
    Poet and Writer. Amongst many other works he wrote "Auld Lang Syne". The Scots celebrate Burn's Night on 25th January.

    > Sir Walter Scott (1771 - 1832)
    Great Scottish patriot, writer and poet.

    > James Chalmers (1782 - 1853)
    Dundee bookseller & newspaper publisher. Inventor of the adhesive postage stamp.

    > Dr Robert Knox (1791 - 1862)
    Anatomist working in Edinburgh Univerisity. He received his specimens from the gruesome grave raiders Burke and Hare, who later turned to murder/body snatching to satisfy Knox's demand for bodies.

    > David Livingstone (1813 - 1873)
    Explorer and medical missionary.

    > George Brown (1818 - 1880)
    Politician & a founding father of Canada. Born & educated in Edinburgh.

    > Andrew Carnegie (1835 - 1918)
    U.S. iron & steel magnate and great philanthropist. Born in Dunfermline, in Fife.

    Fondest memory: > Alexander Graham Bell (1847 - 1922)
    Born in Edinburgh. Emigrated to Canada & later the USA. Inventor of the telephone in 1876.

    > Sir Thomas Lipton (1850 - 1931)
    Grocer & entrepreneur. Born in Port Glasgow, He created the famous Lipton tea brand.

    > Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859 - 1930)
    Author. Creator of the detective Sherlock Holmes.

    > Kenneth Grahame (1859 - 1932)
    Author. His best known work is "The Wind in the Willows".

    > Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868 - 1928)
    Architect & Designer, whose style was a unique blend of art nouveau and Scottish-Celtic traditionalism.

    > Sir Alexander Fleming (1881 - 1955)
    Born in Ayrshire. Discoverer of the world's first antibiotic drug: Penicillin.

    > Eric Henry Liddell (1902 - 1945)
    Athlete who won Gold & Bronze Medals in the 1924 Paris Olympic Games. His life is remembered in the 1981 film "Chariots of Fire".

    > James (Jim) Clark (1936 - 1968)
    Twice world champion racing driver and won seven Grand prix races in a row, twenty-five in all.

    > Jackie Stewart (1939 - ...)
    Racing car driver who won the World Championship three times.

    "After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working."
    - Kenneth Grahame.

    "Cornering perfectly is like bringing a woman to climax."
    - Jackie Stewart.

    "I am prepared to go anywhere, provided it be forward."
    - David Livingstone.

    Race car driver Jackie Stewart (from newspaper) Robert Burns... inventor of the sideburns? ;-p David Livingstone, a famous Scot
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  • JessH's Profile Photo

    The purple glow of the Highlands: HEATHER

    by JessH Updated Apr 3, 2012

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: Whenever I used to see pictures of the Scottish Highlands I always wondered what gave them this unique colour of slightly maroon-brown-purple. Now that I've been to Scotland myself I finally know: it's heather. There is nothing quite like this purple glow of heather-clad hillsides in summer time. It is one of the country's most beautiful and instantly recognizable sights.

    Scottish Heather (Calluna Vulgaris) blooms twice a year, first in early summer and again in early autumn, so of course during our visit in August we were treated to the Highlands in full purple bloom!
    Grouse, deer and many smaller mammals depend on it either for food or shelter, and its bell-shaped flowers iin various colours from white through lavender to deep purple provide a haven for many species of butterflies.
    Heather has always been important in Scottish life in a variety of ways: Highlanders slept on soft piles of heather; brides carry it for good luck; some believe that white heather grows over the final resting places of faeries; or that it grows on patches of earth that have not had the blood of battles shed upon it. And last but not least, there is also the unforgettable taste of fantastic heather honey.
    Purple or Lavender heather grows wild and can be seen covering every available little patch of land, but the white heather is rare, which may explain the reason for these legends.

    Heather is also used for:
    > Coughs and respiratory problems.
    > Ointments and lotions for arthritis and rheumatism.
    > Insomnia.
    > As a tea that is often used to calm nerves & lessen anxiety.
    > Soaps are also made from heather and sold at Farmer’s markets, etc.
    > Dried heather makes a great fresh potpourri.
    > Wonderfully sweet heather honey.

    Fondest memory: So when we marvel at the heather-covered hills of Scotland it's nice to remember that heather is not just a purple flower that grows wild, but its roots are deep in Scottish tradition and are only second to the (also purple) famous flower of Scotland: the thistle (see my separate Local Customs tip)

    "I walk'd along, and humm'd a song,
    My heart was light as ony feather,
    And soon did pass a lovely lass,
    Was wading barefoot through the heather.
    O'er the muir amang the heather,
    O'er the muir amang the heather;
    The bonniest lass that e'er I saw
    I met ae morn amang the heather."

    O'er The Muir ("Over the Moor" - Scottish Folk Song)
    By Stuart Lewis (1756-1818)

    Also: the song "Wild Mountain Thyme" is about heather.
    You can even take a trip to the SCOTTISH HEATHER CENTRE near Aviemore:

    Heather in the Scottish Highlands (Aug. 2008) Heather near Glen Garry, Scotland (Aug. 2008) Delicious Heather Honey (Scotland)
    Related to:
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    • Hiking and Walking
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons

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  • JessH's Profile Photo

    "Heilan Coos" = the fluffy Highland Cows

    by JessH Updated Aug 3, 2011

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    Favorite thing: There is no doubt that Highland Cows are simply a cute & adorably different sight to behold: with their stocky appearance, sweeping horns and eyes that peep out through long shaggy fringes, they win your heart faster than you can say "moo."

    Nobody is certain of the exact age or origins of this unique breed, but they are known to be the oldest pedigree breed of cattle in the world and the first breed to be registered. The Highland Cattle Society's first herd book dates from 1884.

    Although adorable and fluffy, this ancient cattle breed is famous for being the hardiest and most resistant to illness in the world. They were born and bred to survive and thrive in the extreme weather conditions of the Scottish Highlands and Islands. You'll find these majestic creatures (also known as Hairy Cows or Highlanders) all over the rural areas of northern & central Scotland.

    Unlike other cattle these guys have no layer of fat to keep them warm, but instead have an extra coat for "weatherproofing". It's amazing to see herds standing on the side of a mountain in the freezing wind and rain, happily munching away on the last bits of grass or hay! The long fringe (experts call it "dossan" or forelocks) over their eyes keeps out wind & rain. In summer they shed their winter coat but the funny hairstyle remains, covering their eyes as a protection against insects that can cause eye infections.

    Both males and females grow horns, but they grow longer on the bulls. The horns start growing from about 6 months old. Highland cattle are also very fond of water, and you'll often see them standing in lochs or going for a quick swim to keep cool in the summer months.

    Fondest memory: Highland Cows are apparently also pretty intelligent, and although they're very docile and calm I wouldn't get too close if they have young calves nearby (I guess this applies to any animal all over the world: they're very protective of their babies of course!). Also, they are naturally "cheeky" and very inquisitive.

    During our road trip around the Highlands we didn't see as many of them as I thought I would; They are still bred for their meat, but not intensely, so I suppose those farmers who do keep Highland Cattle do so as a service to their country - providing a picturesque sprinkling of reddish-brown hair for the Highland hills :-)

    I had never seen a calf before, and thought that they probably look just the same as adults, just smaller. Then I spotted a postcard and I fell in love: The calves look more like teddy bears rather than cows! (click photo to see picture).

    I've developed a fascination with these gorgeous creatures, so now, every year, I make sure that I buy a Highland Cow calendar for my home.... Quirky, I know, but I love them so!

    Postcard of Scottish Highland Cattle Postcard of Scottish Highland Cow and Calf Highland Cows in Invermoriston (Aug. 2008)
    Related to:
    • Eco-Tourism
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Family Travel

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    Rabbies Tours

    by AlbuqRay Updated Jul 29, 2011

    Favorite thing: Rabbies Tours does 1- to 5-day minibus tours, and 7- to 16-day vacations out of Edinburgh and Glasgow. They are excellent! The minibus is really not a bus and can go on all the narrow roads in the country-side. Our driver-guide, Richard, was excellent too. He was very knowledgeable and friendly, as well as a fun person to travel with. Our particular 5-day island tour was even better. Because of ash from the volcano in Iceland, many people had cancelled their tours. Although the minibus could hold 16, there were only seven of us, including Angela (a Rabbie's trainee guide and another fun person).

    Rabbies Rabbies Richard at Rest and Be Thankful Pass Angela on the Boat to Isle of Staffa
    Related to:
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    • Budget Travel

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  • JessH's Profile Photo

    Radio Stations around Scotland

    by JessH Updated May 28, 2011

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: When driving through the Scottish Highlands you'll often loose radio reception due to the high peaks and low glens (valleys), so unless you are travelling with a great conversation partner or are passionate about your road-trip songs and games ("A hundred bottles of beer on the wall, a hundred...") it's nice to have some CDs or taped music with you in the car.

    Tune into BBC Radio Scotland on 92.4 - 94.7FM. This is Scotland's only national radio station and provides the nation with regular news bulletins and a healthy blend of different music genres. It was quite funny one day when we were driving along, listening to current chart hits like Maroon 5 or Amy Winehouse one minute, and the next minute a show with traditional Scottish folk music (Ceilidh) started - haha!

    If you are looking for traffic reports for certain areas (i.e. the Highlands), then it's best to scan your radio for some of the smaller, local radio stations which will have more specific reports.
    You can also listen online to BBC Radio Scotland here:

    And here is a useful list of all radio stations covering the various areas of Scotland:

    Fondest memory: FUNNY STORY:
    We were driving along one day, on our way to the west coast - and once again we'd lost radio reception so I was scanning to find another one. We stumbled across this small gem: Cuillin FM (106.2 Isle of Skye & Loch Alsh, Highland: and enjoyed listening to the presenter's very strong Scots accent whilst he spoke about the happenings and "upcoming events" in some tiny villages in the area. After a few folk songs, the presenters kept on reminding their listeners to "stay tuned for our big announcement of our newest feature starting this Monday!"

    We were so intrigued as to what such a small radio station could have up their sleeve, we actually parked at the next rest stop so we wouldn't loose the reception and waited. About 2 cans of Irn Bru later the big announcement was made: "Join us this Monday night, right here on Cuillin FM, from 7:30pm onwards for our newest feature: Bingo!"

    We both almost fell over from laughter! There really doesn't seem like there's a lot to do up in the middle of nowhere of the Highlands, on a quiet evening... How radio bingo works, I wonder until this day... but I'll surely never forget that radio station.

    Our rent-a-car in Scotland, August 2008
    Related to:
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    • Road Trip

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  • JessH's Profile Photo

    The History of Scotland - recommended links & DVD

    by JessH Updated May 23, 2011

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    Favorite thing: My husband and I love documentaries... especially BBC documentaries. So when we heard of their DVD Box Set "A History of Scotland" we had to have it straight away!

    Archeologist Neil Oliver presents this visually stunning and beautifully re-enacted program. I love the way the series not only describes the historical happenings in a matter-of-fact or dry fashion, but Oliver takes you behind the grand titles of kings and queens, soldiers and rebels, nobels and lords, and shows you the true human being and their story. In 10 thought-provoking, episodes Neil Oliver brings a fresh perspective to Scotland's past and challenges many of the perceived notions of Scottish history.

    We found this series exceptionally captivating and have already watched it for a second time! (there is so much information to take in... once just isn't enough :-)

    The DVD is available in all major retail stores on or on the BBC's own web store:

    Apart from this documentary series, I also highly recommend having a look at the BBC's very own site dedicated to Scotland and its evolution through the centuries:
    And also this website:

    Fondest memory: "For so long as one hundred men remain alive,
    we shall never under any conditions submit to the
    domination of the English. It is not for glory or riches
    or honours that we fight, but only for liberty, which
    no good man will consent to lose but with his life."
    - The Declaration of Arbroath, 1320.

    "We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilisation."
    - Voltaire.

    "Scottish by birth, British by law, Highlander by the grace of God."
    - Anonymous.

    "Twelve highlanders and a bagpipe make a rebellion."
    - Scottish Proverb.

    Inside the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh A view of Edinburgh from Arthur's Seat (2008)
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Arts and Culture
    • Archeology

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    Famous Scots whom you know from the TV or Radio...

    by JessH Updated Aug 25, 2010

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    Favorite thing: Many of the past & present's great actors and musicians were known as "Brits", but did you know how many of them are actually true Scots?
    Here's a list of the most famous Scottish actors and singers / bands that you may know:

    Actors & other Celebrities:

    > Sean Connery (1930 - ...)
    Actor. Perhaps best known as James Bond.

    > Ewan McGregor (1971 - ...)
    Actor (Trainspotting, Star Wars (new episodes), Big Fish, Moulin Rouge, etc.)

    > Billy Connolly (1942 - ...)
    Glasgow-born comedian & actor known as "The Big Yin".

    > Gerald Butler (1969 - ... )
    Actor (300, P.S. I love you, Law Abiding Citizen, etc.)

    > Gordon Ramsay (1966 - ...)
    Chef, television personality & restauranteur.

    > John Hannah (1962 - ...)
    Actor (Four Weddings & a Funeral, The Mummy, The Mummy returns, Sliding Doors, etc.)

    > James McAvoy (1979 - ...)
    Actor (The Last King of Scotland, Wanted, Atonement, etc.)

    > Robert Carlyle (1961 - ...)
    Actor (Trainspotting, The Beach, The Full Monty, 28 Weeks Later, Plunkett & Macleane, etc.)

    Fondest memory: Musicians and Bands:

    TEXAS (band).

    Sheena Easton (singer)
    - James Bond film song "For your eyes only".

    Simple Minds (band).

    Travis (band).

    Bay City Rollers (band).

    Edwyn Collins (singer).

    Deacon Blue (band).

    Del Amitri (band).

    Franz Ferdinand (band).

    Mark Knopfler, guitarist, Dire Straits (band).

    Annie Lennox, singer, Eurythmics (band).

    Snow Patrol (band).

    Lulu (singer).

    Amy MacDonald (singer).

    Nazareth (band).

    The Proclaimers (band).

    Wet Wet Wet (band).

    Primal Scream (band).

    "I am not an Englishman, I was never an Englishman, and I don't ever want to be one. I am a Scotsman! I was a Scotsman and I will always be one."
    - Sean Connery.

    "I like women. I don't understand them, but I like them."
    - Sean Connery.

    "There are two seasons in Scotland: June and winter."
    - Billy Connolly

    "It seems to me that Islam, Christianity and Judaism all have the same god, and he's telling them all different things"
    - Billy Connolly

    "The problem with Yanks is they are wimps."
    - Gordon Ramsay.

    "The Scots: Creators of the new world... you're welcome!"
    - Ewan McGregor.

    "I'm fiercely proud to be Scottish."
    - Ewan McGregor.

    Scottish Pride incarnate: Sir Sean Connery. Yum-Yum Ewan McGregor (from magazine) Scottish singer Annie Lennox (from magazine) CD-cover of Amy MacDonald
    Related to:
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    • Theater Travel
    • Family Travel

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    Scotland's flags, Royal Coat of Arms and Symbolism

    by JessH Updated Aug 25, 2010

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    Favorite thing: Due to the fact that many Scots are extremely patriotic, I think most of us have seen one or the other Scottish flag being waved in front of our faces :-) But did you know that there is more than 1 flag? And that a mystical creature is used to symbolize Scotland?
    > St. Andrew's Cross - The Saltire:

    The Scottish flag is the cross of St. Andrew, also known as the Saltire. It is said to be one of the oldest national flags in the world, dating back to at least the 12th century. It is a "crux decussate" (X-shaped cross) representing the cross of the Christian martyr Saint Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, on a blue field.

    There isn't a lot of proven historic information on St. Andrew himself. Apparently he was a fisherman in Galilee (now part of Israel) along with his older brother Simon Peter (Saint Peter). Both became followers / Apostles of Jesus Christ. Legend suggests that St. Andrew was killed by the Romans by being nailed to an unusually-shaped cross.
    His relics (bones) were said to have been brought to Scotland after St Regulus had a vision telling him to take them to a far-off land.

    The diagonal shape of this cross is said to be the basis for the Cross of St. Andrew which appears on the Scottish Flag.

    > The Rampant Lion:

    There is a second flag which is associated with Scotland, called the "Rampant Lion" or also known as the official Royal Flag of Scotland. In the days when flags & banners were pretty vital to identify friend or foe on the battlefield, King William I "the Lion" (1143 - 1214), adopted a heraldic device showing a rampant lion rearing up with 3 paws stretched out. This became Scotland's royal coat of arms. The lion was also incorporated into the Great Seal of Scotland, which was placed on all official documents.

    Although it is based on an older Scottish flag, it should actually only used by the monarch in her capacity as Queen in Scotland. However, it is widely used as a second national flag - and proudly so!

    Fondest memory: > The Unicorn is the symbol of Scotland... why?

    According to legend, a free unicorn was considered a very dangerous beast; therefore the heraldic unicorn is chained in the UK's Royal Coast of arms as are both supporting unicorns in the Royal coat of arms of Scotland.

    The shield depicts the red lion of the King of Scots as rampant, with blue tongue and claws. On top of the shield sits the helm and crest. Upon the helm sits the crest, depicting the red lion, forward facing and sitting on the Crown of Scotland. Above the crest is the motto "In Defens", which is a contraction of the motto "In My Defens God Me Defend". Surrounding the shield is the collar of "The Most Ancient & Most Noble Order of the Thistle" (see my separate Local Customs tip about the importance of the Thistle in Scottish history)

    The unicorn is sometimes even used in the family crest of certain Scottish Clans, for example the McGregors (click on photo to see... and yes, that's my new family name since getting married :-).

    Having a laugh in the sun, Scotland (Aug. 2008) St Andrew & his cross (National Museum, Edinburgh) McGregor Clan Family Crest, Scotland Scotland's Royal Coat of Arms Scotland sticker with Rampant Lion
    Related to:
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    • Arts and Culture
    • Family Travel

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    Sutherland's Coast

    by nickandchris Updated Apr 28, 2010

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    Favorite thing: This was from our 2008 holiday to Scotland, in July.We had decided to travel in our motorhome right up to the north coast and work our way southwards and westwards. What a brilliant holiday this turned out to be!

    Sutherland's northern coast is stunninly beautiful,mainly wild and rugged with very few harbours. Interspersed in this ruggedness are some spectacular sandy beaches, vast stretches with rolling waves, popular with surfers and wind surfers alike. To the west are the large sea inlets of Kyle of Tongue, Loch Eriboll and the Kyle of Durness, the latter from where you catch the small passenger ferry to the north western tip of Cape Wrath.

    People are few and far between and roads narrow and winding. Don't come to this remote area if you are in any hurry. The very nature of the place asks for unhurried exploration, stopping when and wherever the fancy takes you. Touring in a motorhome suits this area perfectly, especially with the added bonus of a motorbike onboard, to discover the even tinier roads!!!

    Fondest memory: To read about our holiday in this area, please look at Bettyhill and follow the page links.

    Wild and rugged.... Spectaular Sutherland beaches Northern coast, Sutherland Fancy a swim?? Mountains and sea in Sutherland
    Related to:
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    • Fishing
    • Beaches

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    by uglyscot Written Nov 14, 2009

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    Favorite thing: Because of its position in the world, Scotland has certain features that I can't forget. I hated getting up in the dark and cycling the mile and a half from our house to the top of the Meikle Ferry peninsula , where we would leave our bicycles and take the school bus into Tain. Sometimes we would have to get off the road and push our bikes along the grass beside the sea, to escape being blown off by the gale force winds.I literally hated gale force winds, I was afraid the roof of the house would blow off, even with the metal wires attached for safety.
    Sometimes, but not often the snow would be so thick that we couldn't cycle at all and had to be taken by Land Rover to the bus.
    But in summer it was gorgeous. We could stay out late as the sun hardly set at all untill after 10pm, and it would still be bright after midnight.
    Then there was the morning mist or haar as it is called. Until the sun rose high in the sky the mist would linger leaving me feeling that I was living in a wonderland.
    We were very much aware of the elements. The sea was in yards of the house, and when there was a high tide and a gale, it was quite scary with the waves approaching nearer and nearer. I saw an old boat smashed to pieces after one such event. And our 22 ft caravan was thrown about like a toy and smashed to pieces.
    It is the contrast that makes you so aware of life- and now I am in a different continent, I miss it.

    a misty morning
    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Beaches

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  • JessH's Profile Photo

    The Scottish Highlands - an overview

    by JessH Updated May 26, 2009

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    Favorite thing: The Lowlands of Scotland are picturesque, don't get me wrong, but it's the Highlands where the real "drama" starts. Awesome peaks of sandstone and granite reaching up to 4,406 feet (1,343 metres) are dotted all across the Highlands, which take up half of Scotland's land mass!

    There are 790 islands in the Scottish Highlands, 130 of which are inhabited. If you have the chance to hop into a car and explore this fascinating landscape, then I highly recommend that you do! (and you definitely will need a car to get around; as public transport in the more secluded areas of natural beauty is virtually non-existent)

    Fort William is a good point from which to explore the Highlands, as many of the major mountains and glens are close by: Glen Coe, Ben Nevis, Glen Nevis, the West Highland Way and of course the infamous Loch Ness.

    The road to the Isles is known as the A830 and takes you from Fort William for 46 miles through past lochs, through forests and around mountains to Mallaig, where you can hop onto a boat to the Isle of Skye.

    Fondest memory: The Highlands blend with the edge of the Lowlands at the Trossachs, a picture-postcard area full of fantastic historic tales, lochs, rivers and hills. It only takes about 90 minutes by car to reach this part of Scotland, and it's definitely a necessity to have a car to properly explore every nook, cranny, tiny villages and remote sights of the Trossachs and its National Park.

    Loch Lomond - just to the west of the Trossachs - is Scotland's largest Loch but has a hard time competing with the far more famous Loch Ness and its elusive legendary inhabitant, Nessie!

    I've been utterly enchanted and am now "hooked" on the Scottish Highlands, its flora and fauna, and its people... it's truly is a special place and I cannot wait to go back.

    "High in the misty Highlands
    Out by the purple islands,
    Brave are the hearts that beat beneath Scottish skies.
    Wild are the winds to meet you,
    Staunch are the friends that greet you,
    Kind as the love that shines from fair maidens' eyes."

    "Towering in gallant fame,
    Scotland my mountain hame,
    High may your proud standards gloriously wave.
    Land of my high endeavour,
    Land of the shining river,
    Land of my heart for ever,
    Scotland the brave!"
    (- by Cliff Hanley)

    "Will you go lassie go
    To the braes of Balquidder?
    Where the high mountains run
    And the bonnie blooming heather.
    Where the ram and the deer
    They go bounding together,
    Spend a long summer day
    By the braes of Balquidder."
    (- by Robert Tannahill: 1774 - 1810)

    The Scottish Highlands (road trip, August 2008) Loch Lochy, Scottish Highlands (August 2008) Roadtrip through Glencoe, Scotland (Aug. 08) near Ben Nevis, Scottish Highlands (Aug. 2008)
    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
    • Road Trip

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    Flower-Power: scents & colours of the country side

    by JessH Updated Apr 28, 2009

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: On our travels through Scotland I noticed one thing immediately: the predominant colours of yellow and purple. Mile after mile you can see rapeseed fields stretching across the countryside and most rural roads are framed on either side by tall-growing purple Foxglove.

    Although rapeseed, foxglove, heather and thistle are the most prevalent flowers, I thought I would include this list of some additional common Scottish wildflowers you may see, especially in the Highlands. I hope the botanical enthusiasts here on VT will appreciate it:

    Fondest memory: > Rapeseed: Oil-seed rape is a key part of the biofuels revolution sweeping the globe. Within a few short years, enthusiasts believe, Scottish farmers will be growing millions of gallons of fuel, transforming this rural industry. Then again, sceptics say that this is overly-optimistic wishful thinking. Either way, rapeseed fields can be seen all over Scotland and the golden-yellow mixed with the purple of Foxglove and Heather is very pleasing to the eye.

    > Ramsons or Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum): We saw (and smelled) these little white blossoms quite often at the edges of forests.

    > Yellow forsythia bushes: named after Scottish botanist William Forsyth (1737-1804)

    > Heather: see my separate tip on heather here;

    > Thistle: The Flower of Scotland! See my separate tip on thistle here;

    > Fuschia: a stunning and hardy plant.

    > Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea): We mostly we saw the purple variety, and a lot of it!

    > Rosebay Willowherb: Thanks to jamesfmunro for giving me the correct name for the flowers in my photo!

    > Wild Strawberries (Fragaria vesca).

    > Wild Raspberries: We enjoyed snacking on these quite often!

    > Junniper (Juniperus communis).

    > Scottish Primrose.

    > Wild Pansy (Viola tricolour).

    A number of trees such as birch and hazel produce pretty, pendulous catkins or "lamb's tails".

    "Now the summer's in prime with the flowers richly blooming,
    And the wild mountain thyme of the moorlands perfuming.
    To own dear native scenes let us journey together,
    Where glad innocence reigns among the braes of Balquhidder.”
    - Robert Tannahill

    Flowers & Farmer's house (Fortrose, Aug. 2008) Rosebay Willowherb: Loch Ness Scotland (Aug. 2008) Rapeseed field in the Scottish Highlands Fuschia Flower, Scottish Highlands Wild raspberries (in the foreground), Aug. 2008
    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Eco-Tourism
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons

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    Search for all the Pictish Stones in Scotland

    by ange_famine Updated Feb 13, 2009

    Favorite thing: If your trip is Pictish orientated and you want to learn more about the artwork of this legendary people, plan your visits in advance by visiting the University of Strathclyde site, where you can search the database for all the stones in Scotland, classified alphabetically, described and located.

    Fondest memory: After all, that's the closest we'll ever get to see a Pictish beast.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Archeology
    • Museum Visits

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