Unique Places in Scotland

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Most Viewed Off The Beaten Path in Scotland

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    The Hunterian Art Gallery and the Hunterian Museum

    by Paul2001 Written Jul 10, 2012

    Hunterian Art Gallery is a small collection of art that is located on the campus of the University of Glasgow. The major draw of the collection is the 60 works by James McNeill Whistler who bestowed his collection to the University of Glasgow upon his death. These canvas are quite large and many our outstanding. If you are familiar with his masterpiece known as "Whistler's Mother" and want to see more this artists works then you should take this gallery. Also included in the collection are works by Rubens, Rembrants and Chardin. There are also many examples of Scottish artists on display.
    Of note I was also going to visit the Hunterian Museum while I was on the University of Glasgow campus. The collection holds curiosities collected by William Hunter in the late 18th century but my visit was limited to one room for the fact that the museum was being heavily renovated. He collected all kinds of things, from dinosaur bones to deformed animals. I have included here some photos of the later.
    Both the Hunterian Art Gallery and Museum are free to visit and are open from Tuesday to Sunday.

    Related to:
    • Museum Visits
    • Arts and Culture

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    Chanonry Point: sneak a peek at the dolphins

    by JessH Updated Mar 29, 2012

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    Last year (Oct. 2011) we stayed in a small cottage near Rosemarkie beach. This meant that many hours were spent wandering up and down along the beach, collecting sea shells, feeding the seagulls, snapping photographs and generally trying to digest all the amazing food we ate at Crofters.

    In a separate "Things to Do" tip I have written about EcoVentures: dolphin-spotting boat trips. But if you have very young children, or if you have back complaints, or if high-speed boats simply aren't "your thing", then Chanonry Point is the place you need to go.

    Chanonry Point is a small peninsula extending over a mile south east into the Moray Firth from Rosemarkie & Fortrose. Every day, people come here to enjoy the amazing views, snap pictures of the imposing Fort George on the opposite shore, and of course to keep your fingers crossed and see the dolphins. This is said to be one of the BEST onshore places in Scotland to spot them.

    You see: this chunk of land extends into the sea, and this makes the crossing the shortest distance of the Moray Firth east of Inverness. So, in the morning the tide comes in and the water speeds-up as it is "squeezed" through this narrow inlet. A lot of fish are swept into the firth... and the dolphins follow for a bit of breakfast. In the late afternoon, the tide goes out again, taking many of the fish with it... and so the dolphins follow for a bit of dinner :-)
    Are you getting the hint? These are the best times to come and see the dolphins, and because they are feeding you are pretty much guaranteed to see them frolicking, jumping and throwing fish up in the air as they enjoy their hunt.

    We came here a few times and were lucky enough to spot a large pod with plenty of young calves, who spent quite a long time feeding. And when we struck-up a conversation with a couple sitting next to us, they told us how they had been here in the morning and watched a dolphin throw a huge salmon up into the air, over and over again!

    Parking can be problematic around the Chanonry Point lighthouse and Rosemarkie golf club, because this spot is so popular, but if you have some time then I suggest parking down at the public car parking spots next to the Plough Inn, or on the beach just below the Plough Inn pub, and then take the approx. 30min walk up along the gorgeous beach to the lighthouse.

    --> There are some wooden benches and tables as well, so bring a picnic, get comfortable, attach your large camera lens and enjoy one of nature's best shows... for free!
    *

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Photography
    • Whale Watching

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    Stop, Stretch your Legs & Snap some Pictures

    by JessH Updated Jul 27, 2011

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    When visiting the Highlands we are usually based in Inverness or on the Black Isle. When driving across to the West Coast (or further to the Isle of Skye) we discovered Loch Cluanie, a lovely place to stop and really take-in the stunning scenery around you!

    Loch Cluanie (pronounced like George "Clooney") is a man-made loch in the North-West Highlands, surrounded by the "Five Sisters" in Glen Shiel, not too far from Fort Augustus.

    The dam that formed Loch Cluanie was built in 1950s as part of the Glenmoriston hydroelectric project implemented by the the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board. The Cluanie dam is 675m (2214 feet) long and over 40m (131 feet) high. Water is discharged into the River Moriston which continues to flow east along Glen Moriston finally emptying into the southern part Loch Ness at Invermoriston.

    The Loch is located along the A87, and just a few miles after the dam you'll find a large, flat area where you can park and take a leisurely stroll down to the Loch's shore. On rainy days, you can see some amazing waterfalls on the high peaks around you (I just love this "Highlander" shot I snapped of my husband by one of the larger waterfalls... epic, don't you agree? haha!).

    --> TIP: The last time we came here we also saw a few travellers who had decided to park their camper vans here for the night, and there were 3 fishermen who said that fishing in this loch is very popular (pike, brown trout). Don't forget to check with the nearby Cluanie Lodge/Inn whether you need to obtain the necessary permits if you want to fish here.
    -

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Fishing
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons

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    neolithic ascotland

    by ndahl Written Jul 27, 2011

    If you want to see historic remains you should visit the orkney isles which are a short hop from the northern scottish mainland.
    There you will find standing stone circles that pre-date stonehenge; neolithic villages dating from 3200 years BC; castles and cathedrals dating from Viking times.
    There are miles of beautiful sheltered white, sandy beaches around the islands,
    most within easy travelling distance and most empty of other people.
    Unlike England where the roads are horrendous with traffic, scotlands' roads are less stressful although in the north some can be single lanes with passing places.
    I would agree that edinburgh at that time of the year can be very busy with tourists visiting the festival but there are towns and villages nearby where accommodation is cheaper and more easil;y obtained.
    public transport into Edinburgh from outlying towns is cheap and regular and the festival is something which should not be missed.
    If edinburgh is too crowded for your tastes then Glagow is only a 40 minute drive away with places like the Kelvingrove art gallery or the newly opened riverside transport museum with the tall ship glenlee on the river outside; or the science centre on the other side of the river a short distance away.
    From there you could take a seaplane ride over the river clyde estuary, around loch Lomond and back before landing on the narrow river in the centre of Glasgow
    (this service is hugely popular in Glasgow and requires advance booking).
    As has been said by others, the west coast of scotland is breathtaking in its' scenery.
    The further north and west you go, the better the views

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    Castle Moil (Kyleakin, Isle of Skye)

    by JessH Written May 31, 2011

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    The ruins of this castle sit in Kyleakin Harbour, charmingly overlooking the village and the Kyle of Lochalsh (a "kyle" is a narrow straight of water between the mainland and an island), just a few minutes' drive from the famous Eilean Donan Castle.

    There was a fortress here since the 10th century, serving as a lookout post and fortress. This castle was famously the home of a Norwegian princess called "Saucy Mary" who married a Mackinnon chief.
    Legend has it that Mary ordered a chain to be hung from the castle to the mainland so that no boat could pass without paying a tax. It's more likely that she ordered a "chain of boats" to block the pass rather than a real chain, but this may have been one of those stories that typically got exaggerated over the centuries. You know: the more often a tale is told, the grander it gets :-)

    So why was she called "Saucy"? Well, apparently, when her husband was away and she was bored & lonely, she would stand on the balcony and flash her boobies at passings ship to please the toll-paying captains!

    According to legend, the princess is buried on Beinn na Caillich on Skye, her face reputedly turned towards her home country of Norway.

    This castle was later the base for Clan Mackinnon from the late 15th century until it was abandoned early in the 17th century. At that time the castle was known as "Dun Acainn". The name is derived from the Norwegian King Haakon IV who sailed through here in 1263 on his way to the Battle of Largs, which saw him defeated and hence the end of Norwegian rule of the Hebrides

    Bits of the castle collapsed during some heavy storms in 1949 and 1989 but the remaining walls have now been secured to prevent further collapse.

    There is also a restaurant and bar with the same name nearby, where you can enjoy great views of the ruins during your meal.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Castles and Palaces
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons

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    Kyleakin Village & Harbour (Isle of Skye)

    by JessH Updated May 31, 2011

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    The Isle of Skye, or in Scots Gaelic 'Eilean A Cheo' meaning Misty Isle, is located on the north western coast of Scotland.

    The village of Kyleakin is located across from Kyle of Lochalsh (a "kyle" is a narrow straight of water between the mainland and an island), just a few minutes' drive from the famous Eilean Donan Castle. It's basically the first village you'll pass once you cross the bridge onto the Isle of Skye.
    There used to be a ferry service operating since 1841, but when the new Isle of Skye Bridge was opened in October 1995 the ferry service was stopped the say day.
    It may not be so obvious today, but until fairly recent times the only way to get around in the Highlands and Islands was by sea. And if you wished to pass up or down the country's western coast it was a much shorter and safer option to do so by passing between the Isle of Skye and the mainland rather than taking your chances in the exposed and open North Sea.

    The name of the village, Kyle Akin (it's actually two words, pronounced Kyle AH-kin, and not Kyleekin), derives from the Scots Gaelic Caol Acain, meaning the "Strait of Haakon" named after the Norwegian King Haakon IV of Norway. Here you'll also find Castle Moil, an ancient fortress now in ruins (see my separate off the beaten path tip on "Castle Moil").

    In the 8th century the Vikings were being driven from their own lands by overpopulation. They invaded Skye and a centuries-long period of unrest was started. Kyleakin is one of the villages who can trace much of their ancestry back to the Norwegian hoards.

    It's a small place with a picturesque village and although there may not be a lot to do and see it's a nice place to stop, stretch your legs and have a cup of coffee. We stopped here to do just that, and the harbour and castle ruins provide a nice backdrop for some photo opportunities.
    Kyleakin also has a few hotels, B&Bs and restaurants which may be nice to try on our next visit. Overlooking the harbour is a relatively new addition to the landscape: the Bright Water Visitor Centre, celebrating the heritage and wildlife of the nearby island of Eilean Ban, which now forms a stepping stone for the Skye Bridge.

    I particularly liked this bronze otter sculpture in the harbour (by Laurence Broderick).
    *

    Related to:
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
    • Historical Travel
    • Family Travel

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    The beautiful ruins of Fortrose Cathedral / Abbey

    by JessH Written May 26, 2011

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    Fortrose / Rosemarkie are two small but historically interesting villages on the Black Isle, just across the bridge from Inverness in the Scottish Highlands.

    The cathedral was built in the first half of the 13th century, though it was extended and altered in the 14th and 15th centuries. At the Reformation of the 1560s, the cathedral was used as the town's church, although lead from its roof was granted to Lord Ruthven in 1572. Charles 1st later tried to encourage repairs in 1626 as part of his attempts to restructure the Church of Scotland on the same lines as the Anglican or English church. Traditionally, Oliver Cromwell used stone from Fortrose Cathedral for building the new fort in Inverness.

    The sacristy and chapter-house, those parts of the cathedral still standing in the 18th century were used for meetings of the town council and as a court-house. Unfortunately, these parts of the cathedral are currently closed to the public. The remainder of the cathedral site became a place of burial, and there are many fine post-Reformation gravestones and memorials here.

    There are also plaques commemorating the lost soldiers of the surrounding communities during the 1st and 2nd World War.

    --> Located along the A832. Just of the High Street in Fortrose (next to "The Anderson" - see my separate restaurant tip for details)

    --> For more information, visit this website: http://www.blackisle.org/historic_account.htm

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Archeology
    • Architecture

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    Walk to magnificent Sandwood Bay

    by Niekie Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Sandwood Bay is a magnificent golden beach; many say it’s the best one in Britain. The beach is two kilometers long and enclosed by cliffs to the north and south. Years of erosion have caused a seastack, Am Buachaille, to form at the southern end of the bay. It is a testament to the unyielding elements that pound the Atlantic coast in the far northwest of Scotland. To the east dunes rise from the sandy beach and give some protection from the wind. Behind them lies Loch Sandwood with sheep grazing round its shores.

    Sandwood Bay may sound like the perfect beauty spot to spend an afternoon sunbathing or walking along the shore, but there is a catch. To get there you have to walk about 8 kilometers through uninspiring peat covered moorland. Though the track (an old peat-cutters road) winds its way past a few lochs and lochans (tiny lochs) the bleak landscape quickly looses its appeal and the walk becomes dreary and seemingly endless. But then, turning round the umpteenth corner your heart starts to beat a little faster. Finally the view opens up to the west revealing the stunning grandeur of Sandwood bay and you realize that the hardship only adds to the joy of finally getting there.

    The trail starts from the Blairmore car park on the road from Kinlochbervie to Sheigra, just past Oldshoremore.

    Related to:
    • Beaches
    • Budget Travel
    • Hiking and Walking

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    Just off the motorway

    by GillianMcLaughlin Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    So there you are. Having hired your car, or packed up kids and dog you head for the hills... up the long M6 until at least you hit some lovely scenery in the North West of England. On you go, the kids have asked for the 80th time if we're nearly there yet, and expressed their thirst, hunger and boredom for the umpteenth time. So what do you do? Stop in at one of those corporate overpriced motorway service stations?

    Noooo!

    A few miles north of the border you pull off at Moffat. Only 1 minute from the M74 you find yourself amidst the charms of a fine example of a Scottish border town. Not only will you find lots of choice for eating and drinking amongh the many hotels and cafes, the kids can wear themselves out in the park that offers mini golf, boating and a swing park and there's lots of free parking!

    Moffat also offers much for the historian, the avid shopper and the hillwalker. It is home to a veritable emporium of sweets (candy), king among which is the Moffat Toffee itself.

    Moffat will also guide you to the grave of the inventor of modern-day road surfaces - the original "Tar" MacAdam, the narrowest hotel in the world, the shortest street in the UK and the widest main street in Scotland.

    If you are heading form the south west up to Edinburgh, and the weather conditions do not threaten ice and snow, take the picturesque trip up the A 107 from Moffat. It's shorter than any alternative route and passes through some stunning scenery.

    A little more info can be found on my Moffat page

    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Family Travel
    • Historical Travel

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    Come and Explore the Real Scotland !

    by scotlandscotour Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    There is a very real difference between the Scotland packaged for tourists and represented by the Tourist Board (VisitScotland.com), and REALITY.

    As most visitors (whether budget backpacker on a tour or wealthy golfer staying in castles) seem to remain within a "bubble", seeing only what is presented and what meets preconceived notions of "Scottish", I have decided to take you on a tour, away from the crowds, off the beaten path, into the Scotland I see living here:

    This is a country more vibrant, beautiful and wonderful than you can ever expect. The truth is far better than the myth, so, if you are interested, come and explore, through my pages. This will grow over time. I hope you enjoy. Write to me for help.

    Related to:
    • Music
    • Historical Travel
    • Beer Tasting

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    KILMARTIN GLEN

    by hevbell Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    This area in Argyle, south of Oban and north of Lochgilphead, has one of the highest concentrations of ancient sites in Scotland. There are numerous cairns, stone circles and standing stones in the area although one of the first places you come across driving south from Oban is 16th century Carnasserie Castle. This is one of the cairns which were ancient burial chambers covered in stones. To gain a better understanding of the sites in the area you can visit the museum in Kilmartin village


    There are more pictures of this area on my Oban page.

    Related to:
    • Archeology
    • Historical Travel

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    Inverewe Gardens

    by tvor Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    On the northwest coat of Scotland, near Ullapool, seemingly in the middle of nowhere is an exotic garden. It overlooks Loch Ewe and contains acres of wooded land and gardens full of flowers and exotic plants and trees, even palm trees! Yes, northern Scotland has palm trees on a latitude farther north than Moscow! Blame the Gulf Stream.

    There's a nice gift shop and cafeteria as well. Of course if gardens aren't your thing, this isn't for you. Gardens aren't *really* my thing either but i enjoyed this stop on our tour. It was a sunny day and even in early October there were many many flowers in bloom in the walled garden. We walked a little while in the cool wooded area as well where there are many footpaths to explore.

    It was created in the mid 19th century by Osgood MacKenzie. Here's a bit of history http://www.aboutscotland.com/land/inverewe.html

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    The Central Necropolis in Glasgow

    by Paul2001 Written Nov 10, 2010

    Ok this might seem to be an odd place to start a tour of Glasgow, let alone Scotland but I had just arrived in Glasgow at 7:00am and everything else was closed. It was an unusually hot day for this part of Scotland in May. I was just thankful it did not rain. Since there was a service in the Cathedral, I decided I could not visit it, so I decided to walk around the Central Necropolis until the my hotel room was ready. I was very tired but the fresh air and sun kept me awake. The necropolis is nothing special in my eyes but might be a worth a walk through for views of the Cathedral and for the large statue of John Knox.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel

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    Campbells' Tombs

    by nickandchris Updated Apr 28, 2010

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    At the far end of Cretshengen beach, northern Kintyre,on a headland there is a roofless chapel within which are the tombs of the Campbell family. An absolutely splendid final resting place. There are views back along the beach and out to Jura.

    Related to:
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    • Hiking and Walking
    • Architecture

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    White Sand Beach

    by nickandchris Updated Apr 28, 2010

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    From Port Ban Campsite in northrn Kintyre, there is a lovely sandy beach only accessible on foot, a mere 5 min. walk. It was beautiful fine sand with rock pools and rocky outcrops and rolling waves (it was quite breezy.)
    From here you could walk along the beach and onto the headland and probably way beyond.

    Related to:
    • Beaches
    • Fishing
    • Hiking and Walking

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Scotland Off The Beaten Path

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