Scotland the WILD
13520 · By Guest Author
Slow is no longer a bad thing in travel, and when it's combined with a Highland safari and a lodge with a conscience, Siobhán Norton luxuriates in it.Read more
As the land of kilts, whisky and Macbeth, Scotland is a nation of proud Celtic history and culture. With mystic lochs shrouded in thick mist and rolling highlands crowned by snow, Caledonia is astonishingly atmospheric in every season, from the gentle greenery of a Scottish summer to the spectacular snow-globe scenery of winter.
The brooding mountains and valleys are stunning and take travellers back to an era of war-painted warriors and Pict legend, while the numerous fathomless lochs may or may not be home to a myriad of mysterious beasts that lie beneath the serene blue surfaces.
Off the northern coast and stretching into the Northern Atlantic are the Hebridean Islands, havens of undeniable natural beauty. The capital city and seat of Scotland's government, Edinburgh, is a spectacular mix of monumental historic architecture and stylish contemporary architecture, set under the gaze of the city's magnificent Edinburgh Castle.
Discover the fantastic railways of Scotland. It should come as no surprise that we love railways and we know many of you do too! That's why our tours feature some of the most iconic railways and trains on the continent.
Despite its compact size, Scotland's climate is remarkably variable. Accusations of continuous rain throughout are exaggerated, although the Western Highlands are particularly wet. Scotland's high position in the northern Hemisphere means that it has longer daylight hours than other areas of Britain during the summer and shorter days during the winter. Whilst extreme temperatures are rare, January and February tend to be Scotland's coldest months although still mild with daytime maximum temperatures averaging between 5° to 7 °C. Late summer, July and August sees Scotland at its warmest when temperatures generally reach an average 19 °C.
Scottish culture is almost as old as the country itself. A particularly famous example of Scottish music is the use of bagpipes. While this wind instrument is not a Scottish creation, having its roots in Ancient Greece, the Scottish people have cultivated a strong appreciation of its unique sound incorporating a notable performance during at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo each August, which features over a hundred pipers playing in unison.
Scotland has produced a range of exceptional actors including the original James Bond, Sean Connery as well as Ewan McGregor and Tilda Swinton. Along with its theatrical heritage, there have been a number of literary giants from Scotland such as the world-renowned poet Robert Burns, Treasure Island author Robert Louis Stevenson and contemporary novelist Irvine Welsh.
Scotland has a fantastic array of railway lines which carry passengers across the country, from the rural islands of the north, through the snow-capped highlands and rolling lowlands, across the metropolises of Edinburgh and Glasgow, and along the Scottish English border.
This network also includes a number of heritage lines. The Strathspey railway offers a fantastic steam-hauled round trip in restored carriages through the scintillating Highland scenery, while the Jacobite Steam Train hauls original British Rail First and Standard Class carriages from the 1960s across the magical landscapes.
Scotland has always benefited from an abundance of fresh local produce of excellent quality and this has shaped the country's cuisine, producing traditional dishes and specialities that have become globally recognised and renowned. Perhaps the most well-known of these is a kind of sheep sausage called haggis. Despite its untoward appearance, interesting ingredients and unconventional recipe which involves cooking the food in a sheep's stomach, Haggis is well worth a try for a taste of true Scottish cuisine. Another curious Scottish delicacy is the deep-fried Mars bar, where a standard chocolate bar is fried in batter. Among some other Scottish fare that visitors should sample is Scottish Tablet, Cullen Skink, Aberdeen Angus Beef, Cranachan and Arbroath Smokies.
Significant events in the Scottish calendar include Burns' Night, Hogmanay and St Andrew's Day. Burns' Night is the celebration of the national poet Robert Burns' birthday on the 25th of January, and involves an extensive meal of haggis, swedes and potatoes as well as recitations of Burns' poems. Hogmanay is the Scottish name for New Year's Eve while St Andrew's Day on the 30th November is the day of the patron saint of Scotland and features many traditional Scottish festivities.
Should you choose to dine in a Scottish restaurant it is customary to leave a tip worth 10% of the bill's value, although if you have received exemplary food and service you may want to leave a greater amount. The Scottish accent can be difficult to understand at first, but it soon becomes easy and pleasant to listen to with manageable differences between Edinburgh and Glasgow in the north and south. The Scottish people are down-to-earth, affable and honest with an exceptional sense of humour.
Helping you plan your holiday to Scotland