Scotland’s ‘Top Place’!

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/Once voted ‘the most dismal place in Scotland’ (an epithet which was never really deserved) and probably best known as one of the two furthest apart points accessible by road on the British mainland, the village of John o’ Groats lies way, way up on the northeast corner of Scotland with the most asked question about it being how far is Lands End from John O’ Groats? Well it’s some 870-odd miles from its southern counterpart, Land’s End at the southwest corner of Cornwall in England.

Many people think that John o’ Groats is the most northerly point on the mainland but that honour actually goes to Dunnet Head, a few miles to the west and just a couple of miles further north.https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/

Lying on the main A99 east coast road, John o’ Groats has improved considerably since its ‘dark and dismal days’ and the village and its surrounding area, and indeed the whole northern coast of Scotland, are now the target for increasing numbers of tourists who come for the wildlife, the scenery, and experience of exploring what can be both a very bleak and a very beautiful part of Scotland.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/One surprisingly popular reason for visiting John o’ Groats is the ‘End to End Challenge’ – a road journey between Land’s End and John o’ Groats most commonly done by bicycle and sometimes known as the lands end to john o’ groats challenge, although a handful of hardy souls have actually walked all 870-plus miles of the route. The ‘End to End Challenge’ can, of course, be done in either direction but John o’ Groats seems to be the preferred finishing point for most people.

 

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/When Challengers finally make it to the area they can have their photograph taken at the famous ‘Journey’s End’ signpost at John o’ Groats which was once privately owned with a fee charged for having pictures taken next to it. In these more enlightened times a new sign has been erected which is free to all who wish to have photographic evidence of their visit – you don’t even have to do the ‘End to End Challenge’!

Successful Challengers and other visitors to the area will see awesome unspoilt scenery and fascinating wildlife. There are seals, dolphins, minke whales, killer whales and others in the surrounding waters and the region is a birdwatcher’s paradise with almost uncountable numbers of seabirds on the dramatic cliffs – their calls can be deafening during the breeding season.

The area is recognised as one of the best places in Scotland to see the Atlantic Puffin, those comical-looking clowns of the cliffs, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has its largest UK reserve at the most northerly mainland point of Britain, Dunnet Head – a positive avian metropolis!

From the small John o’ Groats harbour there is the John o’ Groats ferry to Orkney, carrying foot passengers northwards the short distance to the Orkney Islands. By using this 40-minute ferry trip, a day’s outing to the historic sites of Skara Brae, the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness can easily be arranged. Various wildlife cruises are also available but note that all of these are summer only – the waters of the Pentland Firth are far too treacherous for small boats during the winter months.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/The region’s remoteness ensures plenty of lonely and unspoilt places to explore like the beautiful sands at Dunnet beach – increasingly popular with discerning surfers. Even after the sun has gone down nature can still put on a show. Not surprisingly, the best chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights) is in the north and this spectacle can often be seen from the John o’ Groats area, dancing in the clear northern skies.

The Aurora Borealis is, of course, a natural phenomenon so when it comes to seeing them it’s a case of being in the right place at the right time – there is no guarantee you will be entertained by the ‘Heavenly Dancers’ as they are sometimes called.

This entire area combines dramatic, unspoilt scenery and fascinating wildlife with scenic coastal paths. Boat trips are available giving visitors a chance to see the wild cliffs of Duncansby Head from wavetop level. Reaching heights of 200 feet they are a spectacular home to the many birds who choose to nest there.

John o’ Groats is sometimes overlooked in favour of the more central areas or even skipped over completely by those on their way to the Islands further north but that is doing this part of Scotland a grave injustice.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/There is a limited choice of accommodation in the area with self-catering being predominant and there is a camping and caravanning site which is very popular and offers superb views over the Pentland Firth. Remote it may be but it certainly isn’t an uninteresting dead end and it gets plenty of visitors! Perhaps one day you will come and see for yourself.

TAKE A LOOK AT JOHN O’ GROATS and find out what is going on there and what is available for visitors, including accommodation and attractions.

FOR MORE INFORMATION see this site.

 

Traquair House

Stay in Scotland’s oldest inhabited house

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/Originally a hunting lodge for the kings and queens of Scotland, Traquair House is located in the Scottish Borders Region near Innerleithen not far from the border with England. It is a fifteen minute drive from Peebles and just over an hour from Edinburgh and is Scotland’s oldest continuously inhabited house.

For nearly a thousand years Traquair House has been home and playground to the nobility of Scotland. It was a refuge for Catholic priests in times of persecution and the Stuarts of Traquair supported Mary, Queen of Scots and the Jacobite cause without thought of themselves – and they were fined and imprisoned for their beliefs. It is also unique in Scotland as being the only house which has caused a river to be moved! In the early 1600s Traquair House was in danger of being undercut by the River Tweed so the Lord of Traquair changed its course. The Tweed now runs further north than it originally did.

There has been a house of some description at Traquair since at least 1107 but the impressive-looking building now occupying the site was built as a fortified mansion house. The current Laird of Traquair is Catherine Maxwell Stuart, 21st Lady of Traquair and the house is now run as a unique venue for weddings, corporate and other events, private dining and vacation stays. Added to and extended throughout the centuries the house is a fascinating historical archive and an unforgettable tourist destination for anyone visiting the area.https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/

As you enter the house you will find a stone spiral staircase giving access to the drawing room, the bedrooms, the library and a small museum and as you ascend the spiral staircase keep in mind that you are following in the footsteps of the kings of Scotland and the cream of Scottish nobility.

Visitors can take a tour through rooms each of which adds an individual touch to the atmosphere of the house. Everywhere are portraits, embroideries, paintings, old prints, maps and relics illustrating the history of the house. The ground floor gives access to vaulted cellars and the still room which houses a fine collection of china.

When you have completed your tour of the house you might turn your attention to the extensive grounds within which you will find the half-acre maze, the craft workshops, the 1745 Cottage Restaurant (in the walled garden) and the Traquair House Brewery which produces the world-famous Traquair House Ales – well worth a taste if you are a connoisseur of traditional ales! The gift shop has a selection of Traquair ales as well as a range of other typical tourist-type gifts and souvenirs.https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/

Traquair House is also a place for a truly unique and romantic wedding! It has its own chapel and is licenced for both religious and civil ceremonies offering a choice for couples of being married in the House itself or in certain parts of the extensive grounds. After the ceremony a small reception can be held in the main house; and larger events, complete with a marquee, can be held in the gardens.

Traquair House has an interesting historical connection with the United States of America. In 1770 Lady Christina Stuart, eldest daughter of 6th Earl of Traquair, married a young Virginian, Cyrus Griffin, who was studying law at Edinburgh University. In 1773 the couple left for America where Cyrus was to become one of the Founding Fathers.

Traquair House offers bed-and-breakfast accommodation in the main building in one of three sumptuous bedrooms – the Blue Room (overlooking Cupid’s Garden), the Pink Room (overlooking the maze) and the White Room (with a view of the Bear Gates). All of these double bedrooms are furnished with antique furniture and canopied beds and have luxury private bathrooms.https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/

The Traquair Estate also offers self-catering accommodation for family groups in the nearby Howford House. This Georgian-style country house has nine bedrooms and five bathrooms and is just a 10-minute walk from Traquair House. Recently renovated and furnished in an antique style and complete with its own tennis court this house offers a luxury stay for larger groups.

If you time your visit to coincide with the Traquair Medieval Fayre (Scotland’s only authentic medieval fayre) which takes place on the last weekend in May or the Autumn Fayre, held on the first weekend in August, you will be sure of an entertaining stay.

No vacation trip to the Scottish borders is complete without at least a short visit to Traquair House and who knows, perhaps you will decide to stay a night or two and add your name to the long list of those who have stayed in Scotland’s oldest continuously inhabited house!

TAKE A LOOK INSIDE TRAQUAIR HOUSE – in a video with the current Laird of Traquair – Catherine Maxwell Stuart, 21st Lady of Traquair.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION VISIT TRAQUAIR HOUSE WEBSITE

 

Over the Sea to Skye

Situated off the west coast of Scotland, the Isle of Skye, largest of the inner Hebridean islands, is actually the easiest of Scotland’s islands to reach. It has been connected to the mainland by the Skye Crossing (more often called the Skye Bridge) since 1995 and the crossing is now how most visitors to Eilean a’ Cheò (the ‘Misty Isle’ – the island’s gaelic name) arrive.https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/

Everyone who visits Skye will leave with a lasting impression of the scenery. From the Cuillin mountains to the impressive coastal cliffs, from the Old Man of Storr to the Quiraing, from MacLeod’s Tables to the Kilt Rock Waterfall every turn and twist of the road reveals new sights to marvel at. A journey from Rubha Hunish in the north to Point of Sleat in the south will delight and amaze any visitor.https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/

The seas around Skye are just chock full of wildlife with whales, dolphins, sharks, seals, otters, sea eagles and more species of seabird than you can shake a stick at all easily seen from many of the vantage points offered by Skye’s rocky shores and cliffs. If you want to get close up and personal with a whale shark or a killer whale then take one of the sea safaris available during the summer months.https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/

Being an island it isn’t surprising that Skye has a wonderful selection of seafood prepared by master chefs in first-class hotels and restaurants and not only seafood but highland game reared in the shadow of the mountains, vegetables from local suppliers and a renowned single malt whisky from the Talisker distillery (In 2007 Talisker 18-year-old won ‘Best Single Malt In The World’ award) as well as a range of locally-brewed craft ales.https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/

The island culture is strong on Skye especially that of the gael. You don’t need to speak gaelic to visit Skye or even to live there but you will hear it often, especially in the smaller settlements and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Scotland’s Gaelic College situated in the south of the island, is working to preserve and advance the gaelic language and heritage.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/Portree, Skye’s main town, is a busy place and a popular tourist destination. It is built around a natural harbour and the town’s brightly painted houses rise steeply from the water’s edge. At 639 square miles and with a population of just over 10,000 the Isle of Skye isn’t exactly crowded. It is quite possible to take a solitary vacation or live a quiet and isolated lifestyle with as much or as little contact with others as you might wish. Do your own thing at your own pace.

For many people Skye is famous for its mountains – the Black Cuillins and the Red Cuillins. Spectacular to look at they certainly are but the Black Cuillins in particular are not to be taken lightly. There are few easy routes here and most are for experienced mountaineers only. Take photographs but don’t take chances – if you dare to tread on these hills then tread warily!https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/

Despite Skye being on Scotland’s west coast the weather isn’t as bad as many people might think. It does rain sometimes, with the north of the island being a little drier than the south, but the sun also shines and due to the influence of the gulf stream winters aren’t as harsh as they might otherwise be. Snow rarely lies at sea level and morning frosts are less likely than they are on the mainland. The highest temperature recorded on Skye was 26.7°C (80.1°F) and the lowest was -6.5°C (20.3°F).

Skye is a wonderful place to spend some vacation time and, with a varied selection of hotels, B&Bs, camping and caravan sites you’re sure to find accommodation which suits both your tastes and your budget. Although most visitors now arrive by road it is still possible to reach Skye by ferry from either Mallaig (a big ferry) or Glenelg (a small ferry) and for tourists this is an alternative and rather more scenic way to reach it. Many visitors to Skye are enthralled by the island and many will return again and again. You never know, you might go for a week and stay for a year – or a lifetime!https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/

YouTube Video:

More information on Skye, including a map can be found here:

Skye Terrier Dogs

The Isle of Skye has its own breed of dog, the Skye Terrier dogs, which are said to be shy but very friendly. One famous example is Greyfriars Bobby, a Skye Terrier who stayed faithfully by his master’s graveside in Edinburgh for 14 years until his own death. Queen Victoria also owned two of the Isle of Skye Terriers; Dandie and Islay.
Greyfriars Bobby statue, Edinburgh

Misty Island

With the Isle of Skye being nicknamed the “Misty Isle”, Thomas The Tank Engine fans, may see this as the location of Misty Island, a mysterious island that can be seen from Brendam Docks. This island is always covered in mist and is rediscovered in “Misty Island Rescue“, a full length cartoon in which Thomas is lost on Misty Island after being shipwrecked at sea. It also features an undersea tunnel, lost for many years and which becomes a means of getting trains to and from the mysterious island.

The Skye Boat Song

A famous song, called The Skye Boat Song, commemorates the flight of Bonnie Prince Charlie. You can hear that song here.

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park: Scotland’s Playground!

Most visitors to Scotland will be keen to travel the castle trail, the whisky trail or visit the many historic sites and areas or soak up the culture of the big cities. Many will be keen to immerse themselves in the highland landscapes and possibly seek out those places their ancestors came from. There is nothing wrong with these activities – many visitors will have a wonderful time exploring Scotland.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/But what about the native Scots? What do they do, where do they go for their ‘staycations’? Well, one of the most popular areas in the west of Scotland is Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Loch Lomond lake (the largest loch in Britain by surface area) is Scotland’s premier water sports location.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/Yachting, power boating, paddle boarding, kayaking, water skiing and angling (both game and coarse fishing) can be had on the loch and anglers can be sure of a varied catch with Loch Lomond fishing since Loch Lomond has more species of fish than any other loch in Scotland). And to answer a fairly common question from non-Scots, on whether the Loch Ness monster is found in Loch Lomond – the answer is no. It is said to be found in Loch Ness and you can read about that here.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/Loch Lomond contains about thirty islands (a few of which are seasonally inhabited) and boat excursions are available around some of them. Balloch, a town on the southern shore of the loch, has a large marina and is the base for several boating tours which range up and down the loch. It is also the place to go for boating enthusiasts who simply wish to admire the huge range of small pleasure craft which use the marina.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/Balloch is also where you will find the ‘Maid of the Loch’, a paddle steamer which used to sail Loch Lomond but is now moored at Balloch Pier whilst funds are raised to, hopefully, return it to its previous life carrying passengers and sightseers up and down the loch. In the meantime she serves as a restaurant, bar and events venue. If you’re in the area and feeling a bit peckish you could do worse than visit her.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/Getting around Loch Lomond is surprisingly easy since a waterbus service runs on the loch. If you need to get from one place to another or just want to take in the views, the waterbus allows you to enjoy a relaxing journey and also have time onshore to enjoy a scenic lunch stop. Scheduled services depart from various piers and pontoons strategically placed on the loch allowing you to take in the stunning scenery at your leisure – and feel free to bring your four-legged friends along for the trip!

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/Of course not everyone is into water sports but don’t despair; Loch Lomond lies within the 720-square-mile Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Established in 2002 this was the first of Scotland’s national parks and it covers a large portion of the western part of the southern highlands. It is the fourth largest national park in the British Isles.

Included within its boundaries are many other lochs (although none as large as Loch Lomond) and no less than 21 of Scotland’s Munros (mountains over 3000 feet) one of which is Ben Lomond, Scotland’s most southerly Munro, which towers over Loch Lomond from its eastern side and, if you have the energy to reach its summit, is a magnificent viewpoint for the entire 22-mile length of the loch.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/The entire area of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park offers wonderful opportunities for outdoor adventures. Apart from the water sports there are opportunities for mountaineering, hill walking, orienteering, mountain biking and more and the range of wildlife to be seen in the park both on Loch Lomond itself or around its shores and in the wider park is astounding – the water birds alone make for spectacular sights both summer and winter.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/After visitors have indulged themselves in their favourite outdoor activities there is also the opportunity to try some indoor activities. At the southern end of the loch, close to Balloch is Loch Lomond Shores. With excellent views over the loch this upmarket shopping experience is a relaxing way to unwind after a hard day’s exploring.

The nearby Drumkinnon Tower is home to the Loch Lomond Aquarium whose 26 exhibits contain mainly native Scottish species. It features touch pools, ray tanks and a tropical ocean tunnel. Drumkinnon Tower also has a 350-seat cinema and a cafe. Don’t forget to visit the National Park Gateway Centre where lots of information about the park can be found including its history and the background into its establishment in 2002.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/Loch Lomond is just a hop, skip and a jump away from Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest city and the wider area of the Trossachs National Park is also easy to reach from most of the central belt of Scotland making this one of the most popular ‘staycation’ destinations in Scotland. Surely it’s worth a visit if you happen to have a day or two to spare?

For those who do decide on a longer stay the area has a plethora of hotels and guest houses ranging from small and cosy to big and beautiful and there are numerous camping and caravanning sites available so you’re bound to find something to your liking.

Loch Lomond Map and Information:

YouTube Video: Watch a video of the Loch

One of the most famous Scottish songs is about Loch Lomond. Here is a beautiful version of it.

The song itself is about a Scottish soldier who is to be executed. Legend has it that the spirits of Scots who die abroad return to Scotland by the “Low Road” and the singer says they will return by the “low road”.

Inverness – The Hub of the Highlands

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/

Inverness

Although it is the most northerly of Scotland’s ‘cities’ Inverness isn’t hard to reach. With the four major roads which span the Scottish Highlands converging on the city, its own airport and a railway station and bus station, both of which are travel hubs for the east coast of Scotland, Inverness is well located as a great starting (or finishing) point for any trip to the Highlands.

But the city shouldn’t be regarded as a mere waypoint on a greater journey. It has much to offer those who may wish to linger awhile and explore what Inverness and the surrounding area has to offer. There is a great selection of hotels, B&Bs and guest houses both within the city and nearby so finding suitable accommodation shouldn’t be a problem.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/

River Ness

The River Ness runs through the middle of the city and the numerous hotels and cafes on its banks and the attractive bridges across the river give both wonderful views and the opportunity for visitors to simply sit and people watch as the world goes by as well as sample what culinary delights the city has to offer.

Inverness is the cultural heart of the Highlands with museums and art galleries dedicated to local history and culture. Various guided tours of the city are available pointing out places of interest and giving an insight into the history of the area – fairies, slaves and rebellion feature large!

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/ https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/

Victorian Market

For dedicated shoppers Inverness has a Victorian Market and a large, modern shopping centre as well as numerous small shops selling all kinds of items from souvenirs to kilts and other tartan clothing. If you search diligently you may even be able to purchase a haggis!

Inverness is also associated with that iconic piece of clothing, said to have been worn by Sherlock Holmes – the Inverness Cape. This is a sleeveless coat, with an over cape. Many bands, including pipe bands and those with accordion players use the Inverness Cape as part of their uniform, as it gives good access to their musical instruments, unlike coats with sleeves that can be restrictive. Coachmen, who drove horses and carriages, also used to be clothed in an Inverness Cape for the freedom it provided to control and handle the horses.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/Inverness Cathedral

Inverness Cathedral, dedicated to St Andrew, has an important place in Scottish religious history and is currently the seat of the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church. It is a magnificent building and well worth a visit. Inverness Castle is a wonderful sight from across the river towering, as it does, over the city and the river and is another place not to be missed.

Caledonian Canal

For those of a nautical bent Inverness lies at one end of the Caledonian Canal, that 60-mile-long diagonal slash through Scotland which offers an interesting opportunity to sail peacefully from one side of Scotland to the other. Several companies hire motor cruisers on the canal and it is possible to cruise from Inverness to Fort William passing through some magnificent scenery along the way. As you traverse Loch Ness, look out for the Loch Ness monster!https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/

Dolphins Cetaceans and Porpoises

Dolphin watching trips out in the Moray Firth can be taken where a resident pod of bottlenose dolphins can often be seen frolicking in the waves. Other cetaceans can also be spotted including harbour porpoises and even, occasionally, minke whales. If your sea legs aren’t the best then stay on shore and go to Chanonry Point – the best of several places on the Moray Firth from where these creatures can be seen.

NC500

The city is also the starting point for the NC500, that 500-mile long road trip which takes you up the east coast, along the north coast and down the west coast of Scotland returning to Inverness by a cross-country route cutting through some magnificent scenery on its way.

Only a couple of miles from Inverness you may be interested in visiting what is one of Scotland’s most iconic historical sites. https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/The Battle of Culloden in 1746 was the last pitched battle fought on British soil and resulted in the defeat by an English army of the rebellious Jacobite forces under the command of ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’. The site of the battle is preserved as much as possible with a visitors’ centre including a 360-degree theatre which puts you right in the middle of the battle and a museum which displays artifacts which have been recovered from the battlefield.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/

Inverness Castle

Inverness also has a castle, which acted as a place of corrections for many years, after being rebuilt in the nineteenth century on what was originally a defensive site, overlooking the River Ness. Inverness castle is no longer the site of the Sheriff court but the grounds and North Tower are open to visitors, with a wide view of the River Ness and many historical artifacts. When acting as a defensive site, it was associated with Mary Queen of Scots, though was later blown up by Bonnie Prince Charlie, as it was taken over by a clan who supported the English forces.

No matter what you decide Inverness will make you welcome. By the way, Inverness is said to be the place in the British Isles where the clearest English is spoken!

 

More On Inverness

Information on INVERNESS

THINGS TO DO AND MAPS Of Inverness

 

Gold Panning Scotland

Come to Scotland for whisky, golf – and gold!

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/If you ask anyone what Scotland is best known for they would probably say ‘whisky’ and ‘golf’ and many tourists who visit Scotland will no doubt want to investigate both. But there is more to Scotland than those two well-known and well-frequented pursuits. How about a different kind of activity when you visit Scotland? How about panning for gold? Unlikely as it may seem, gold can be found in many of Scotland’s rivers and streams. It isn’t hard to find and Scotland has experienced its very own gold rush! It wasn’t on the scale of the California gold rush but in 1868 and again in 1869 the Sutherland gold rush in the north of Scotland attracted many hundreds of people and yielded modest quantities of gold.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/Panning for gold has been popular for centuries. Gold is found in the sands and gravels in streams which act as a natural means of concentrating the gold. Scotland doesn’t contain huge quantities of gold but with a little bit of luck it can be quite lucrative – the largest single gold nugget ever found in Scotland (in 2016) weighed 86 grams which, at the current price of gold, is worth nearly $70,000 and there have been recent rumours of an even bigger one being found!

The Scottish Crown Jewels, better known as the Honours of Scotland, which are on display in Edinburgh Castle, are made from Scottish gold and one fact may surprise you – Scottish gold has a market value five times higher than other golds due to its rarity! Isn’t it worth having a go?

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/Commercial gold mining hasn’t really been carried out in Scotland, but a new gold mine has recently opened at Cononish in Tyndrum, Perthshire, where Australian company Scotgold expect to mine in the region of 20,000 ounces of gold annually, which at today’s prices is worth approximately $22 million. This should give you some idea of the value of gold to be found in Scotland although, to be honest, most people will be lucky to find enough to make into a ring or a pair of earrings but they will have fun doing so.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/If you wish to follow in the footsteps of the 1868-69 prospectors in Sutherland then the Suisgill Estate is the place to go. There you can obtain licences and equipment to pan for gold on the estate. There are other places in Scotland where gold can be panned but many of them are covered by what is known as ‘Mines Royal’ – the gold is, in fact, owned by the Crown. This doesn’t mean that you can’t pan for gold but it would be wise to check out the legal position in the area you plan to go since you may not be allowed to keep any significant finds you make. You can see a gold in Scotland map, showing places where gold has been found.

Whichever area you choose you will have a great time and, of course, there is always the possibility of finding a new record-breaking gold nugget!

Gold Nugget on YouTube:

If you need to know more about whether you can legally search for gold in Scotland, you need to check out the legal position. It is YOUR responsibility to check the legal position for any place you may choose to search for gold. Some information can be downloaded as a PDF at the link below, however, it may not be the latest information and you are strongly advised to check the current position before trying panning for gold in Scotland.

Legal Stuff about Mines Royal:

Dunfermline – Scotland’s Other Royal Mile

Most tourists who come to Scotland will pay a visit to Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city (once known as the ‘Second City of the Empire’) and then move on to the nation’s capital city of Edinburgh. What many of them won’t know is that Edinburgh hasn’t always been the capital of Scotland. Drive north across the Forth Road Bridge and you will very quickly come to the Royal Burgh of Dunfermline, a town which played a significant role in the early history of Scotland and a place bursting with history.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/Dunfermline’s beginnings go back to the 11th century when King Malcolm III built a fortified tower on a rocky hill on a site which is now in a public park and established Dunfermline as the new seat of royal power and the town became the de facto capital of Scotland for the next 350 years. Take yourself through 900 years of Scottish history, explore the ruins of the royal palace and Dunfermline Abbey, the last resting place of no less than 12 of Scotland’s kings and queens (including Robert the Bruce, who is revered in Scotland as a national hero). Dunfermline was also the birthplace of other royals including King James I and King Charles I.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/You might visit the Abbot House Heritage Centre in the 15th century Abbot House – one of the few houses to survive a devastating fire in 1624 which consumed most of the town and left the bulk of the population homeless and don’t miss a visit to the award-winning Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries where you can learn all about Dunfermline and its history.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/Dunfermline Abbey is a fascinating place to visit and is just a short walk from the beautiful Pittencrieff Park (known locally as The Glen) which was gifted to the town by Andrew Carnegie. It’s a real oasis in the middle of the town with tranquil woodland walks which are great for wildlife spotting. It also has beautiful formal gardens, several childrens’ play areas and is home to a resident muster of peacocks!

King Malcolm’s Queen, Margaret, is Scotland’s only female saint, and her shrine in Dunfermline Abbey has been visited by many thousands of pilgrims over the centuries. Tucked away in the corner of a public car park you may visit St Margaret’s Cave where the deeply religious queen came to pray and, as you follow the tunnel and descend the 87 steps down to the cave, you can feel the weight of 900 years of prayer and history. This place has a special atmosphere.

‘The Auld Grey Toun’ of Dunfermline is also the birthplace of one of the world’s most well-known philanthropists – Andrew Carnegie. The small cottage in which he was born is today preserved as the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum – a museum and monument to his life where you can hear the story of how he became the richest man in the world and how he gave away vast sums of money to worthy causes.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/The Royal Burgh of Dunfermline is often overlooked by tourists visiting Scotland but a visit to this ancient Scottish capital will more than repay the time spent there and will reveal some fascinating facts which will surprise many people – did you know that the USA had a Consulate in Dunfermline from the late nineteenth century right up until the 1920s? In addition to the history, don’t forget the town itself. Dunfermline has a great indoor shopping centre and its pedestrianised High Street is a safe place to wander along, simply taking in the atmosphere of this vibrant and modern town – and don’t miss out the side streets heading downhill from the High Street. There are some real gems down there ranging from specialist shops to a good variety of eating places including cafes, restaurants and pubs.

Take a wander around historic Dunfermline in this video:

VisitScotland: Dunfermline

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Scotland’s largest city and the UK’s third largest (once known as ‘the second city of the empire’), Glasgow has many fine art galleries and museums but one of the most popular is undoubtedly Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum which houses one of Europe’s great art collections. It is also one of the top three free-to-enter visitor attractions in Scotland and one of the most visited museums in the United Kingdom outside of London. It could be considered to be the Scottish Smithsonian.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/First opened in 1901 and reopened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in July 2006 after a three-year closure for major renovations, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum was an immediate success with the public with 2.23 million visitors to this impressive red sandstone building in the following year.

With everything from art to animals, in over 8000 exhibits in 22 state of the art galleries, its natural history displays, its cultural and historically important artefacts (Kelvingrove has one of the top three collections of arms and armour in the world) and its collections of art representing many different schools, Kelvingrove contains an impressive range of internationally significant displays.

The museum houses Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross and there are separate galleries devoted to Dutch artists including work by Rembrandt; French artistes with Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh and one of the few female impressionists Mary Cassatt. The Glasgow Boys and the Scottish Colourists have their own galleries and the Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Glasgow Style gallery includes many important works. There are also a number of temporary displays and exhibits which change over time so you never really know what you’re going to see on your next visit.https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/

The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum also has its own beehive. Always a popular exhibit, the Kelvingrove beehive allows you to look deep inside the hive and see its structure in detail and watch the bees being, well, busy little bees!

There are persistent rumours that the museum is home to Scotland’s only fossilised Haggis. That may simply be a folk myth but it’s worth keeping your eyes open just in case it’s lurking somewhere amongst the other exhibits. And don’t just wander around a bit and look at the exhibits, take some time to examine the building itself. It’s a magnificent edifice in its own right and well worth the reported £28m it cost for the renovations.

The proud possessor of a Gold Award from Visit Scotland’s Green Tourism scheme Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is located on Argyle Street, in Kelvingrove Park in the West End of the city near the main campus of the University of Glasgow. The park site also includes Kelvingrove Skatepark.

The museum is easy to get to and is fully accessible to the disabled – even to the extent of providing wheelchairs for visitors to use (subject to availability). There is a Glasgow museums gift shop, a restaurant and a cafe (feel free to bring your own sandwiches) and guide dogs are welcome. Admission is free (donations are appreciated).

PS: Don’t forget to say ‘hello’ to Sir Roger as you pass through the West Court!https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/

Check out the Kelvingrove Museum Website:

Watch A Video About The Kelvingrove

Visit Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh’s crowning glory

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/Amongst the many sights and experiences Edinburgh has to offer its visitors Edinburgh Castle is surely the crowning glory. This magnificent edifice perches nearly 300 feet above the city on the ancient volcanic plug of Castle Rock, an extinct volcano which dominates Scotland’s capital and makes the castle visible for many miles away.

Because of its strategic position Castle Rock has been occupied since 900bc and, when the Romans first came this way in about AD80, they found that the local Votadini people had the well-established fort of ‘Din Eidyn’ looking balefully down at them – and the Romans wisely left it alone!https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/

Since then the castle has been rebuilt, expanded, fortified and altered. It has been bombarded, besieged, captured and recaptured (it is the most besieged castle in Britain). It has been a fortress, a barracks, a prison, a hospital, a royal residence, a museum and a treasury.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/The Crown Jewels of Scotland, known as ‘The Honours of Scotland’ (the oldest crown jewels in the UK) are housed in the castle and are made from gold that was mined in Scotland. The Stone of Destiny, sitting upon which monarchs of both Scotland and England have been crowned for centuries is also there.

Within its walls is the oldest building in Edinburgh – St Margaret’s Chapel – which still hosts weddings and christenings to this day. Every day at one o’clock precisely (excepting Sundays, Good Friday and Christmas Day) a cannon is fired from the Mills Mount Battery – originally a time signal for ships in the River Forth but nowadays just one of the many traditions associated with the castle.https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/

Still a military garrison, Edinburgh Castle is now a world-famous visitor attraction and an iconic part of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh World Heritage Site. It houses Scotland’s National War Museum and, of course, it is host to the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, that magnificent spectacle of military skill which takes place every August on the castle Esplanade. The first tattoo took place in 1949 and attracted about 100,000 spectators in total. The last time the tattoo was held was 2019 (the 2020 event was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic) when 220,000 people watched the various live events and many, many more watched it on television. The 2021 event is expected to happen as normal.https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/

Edinburgh Castle is a large and complex place and it houses so much of interest: the Lang Stairs, The Portcullis Gate, The Half Moon Battery, The Argyll Battery, The Mills Mount Battery, the huge cannon of Mons Meg, The Great Hall, The Argyll Tower, Foog’s Gate, the Castle Vaults and the two small museums of the Royal Scots Regiment and the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. A full day is needed to do this place justice!

As you wander through the castle keep in mind that you are treading in the footsteps of kings and queens, princes and princesses, rebels and saints, writers and poets, and rogues (including the architect who restored the Great Hall – and then refused to hand over the keys!).https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/

Edinburgh Castle offers guided tours by castle stewards or you may choose to follow the audio guide at your own pace. Whichever you choose you can’t fail to be impressed – witnessing or indeed being a central character in much of Scotland’s history it could be said that, in many ways, the history of the castle is the history of Scotland.

Read more about Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle on YouTube:

Falkirk Wheel Tour – Boating In The Sky!

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/Connecting two largely disused waterways the Falkirk Wheel, the largest ‘functional sculpture’ you are likely to see anywhere, is the world’s only rotating boat lift. Opened in May 2002 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as part of her Golden Jubilee celebrations the wheel connects the Union Canal with the Forth and Clyde Canal, both once used extensively for commercial purposes.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/Situated pretty much half way between Glasgow and Edinburgh, and part of the Millennium Link project, this 35 metre (115 feet) diameter wheel lifts boats 24 metres (79 feet) from the lower canal up to a pair of locks leading on to the higher canal and re-establishes a link between Glasgow and Edinburgh which was severed in the 1930s due to disuse and industrial development.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/You may wonder why was the Falkirk Wheel built? Not only was the wheel built to reconnect Scotland’s two major cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh, with the much-valued leisure resource of a recreational waterway, it was also built to be a major tourist attraction and today the Falkirk Wheel is one of Scotland’s busiest attractions boasting a state-of-the-art visitor centre with a Falkirk Wheel gift shop and café.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/The visitor centre is free to enter and, over a coffee, you can simply sit and admire the effortless ease with which the Falkirk Wheel boat lift rotates the combined weight of water and boat (some 500 tonnes on each side) from one level to the other using no more electricity than it would take to boil a few kettles of water – which speaks volumes about the efficient design of the boat lift.

Whilst many visitors will be happy to merely watch this remarkable structure in action the real thrills come from trying it out for yourself. Departing from right in front of the visitor centre, and lasting about an hour for the full ascent and descent experience, boat trips on the Falkirk Wheel are very popular with some 400,000 people visiting the wheel every year and about 1.3 million visitors in total have taken a boat ride since the wheel opened.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/If you are spending any amount of time in central Scotland this is one tourist attraction and impressive feat of engineering you really must visit. The site is fully accessible for visitors with mobility problems. It is wheelchair friendly and wheelchairs or mobility scooters can be taken on the boat trip. Designed to last 120 years the Falkirk Wheel will be ready and waiting for you when you decide to take your ride on the world’s only rotating boat lift!

Check out the Falkirk Wheel Website:

Youtube Video showing the canal boat being lifted nearly 80 feet into the air to join the upper canal.

Except where otherwise credited, all photos are believed to be in the public domain, from Pixabay.com