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:

Falkland Palace: Scotland’s Ancient Royal Residence

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/Located in the Fife village of Falkland, about an hour’s drive north over the River Forth from Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh, Falkland Palace has historic royal connections going back beyond the 12th century and saw most of the early Scottish rulers and the later Stuart monarchs. Originally a hunting lodge and later a castle, the 16th century Palace of Falkland was inspired by the grand châteaux of France and it was the Stuart monarchs James IV and his son James V who transformed this favoured retreat of the royal Stuarts into a fine example of Renaissance architecture. King James V, father of Mary, Queen of Scots, died there in 1542 and when Mary herself returned from her time in France she came to Falkland Palace as often as she could whilst carrying out her royal duties as Queen.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/The surrounding countryside was kept as a private hunting estate where members of the royal court and favoured guests would hunt wild boar and deer and fly falcons over the hills. As you explore the spectacular Renaissance architecture of what was, in effect, the country residence of the Stuart monarchs and walk around the magnificent gardens and orchard where you will find Britain’s oldest original real (or royal) tennis courts, the roofed spectator area of which is home to a number of nesting swallows during spring and summer (you may need to duck when they come flying in and out!), you will come to understand why this palace was a royal favourite. In the gardens you can still find some remnants of the 12th-century Castle.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/Sadly, in 1654, a fire partially destroyed the palace during its occupation by Oliver Cromwell’s forces, and it was allowed to fall into a state of disrepair. It was saved from total ruin some 200 years later by John Crichton-Stuart the 3rd Marquess of Bute who bought the estate and carried out a programme of restoration giving it a new lease of life. Work was done on the gatehouse, the south grange and the cross house. Parts of the palace are still in ruins but the original and reconstructed rooms contain 17th-century Flemish tapestries, elaborate painted ceilings and antique furnishings. The palace also has its own chapel.https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/

Although still owned by the Crichton-Stuart family, Falkland Palace (a Scottish Tourist Board 4-star visitor attraction) is now in the care of the National Trust for Scotland and guided tours start at regular intervals. Pre-booking is not required. Tours start from East Port through the impressive entrance archway with the keeper’s rooms and then on to the King and Queens’ bedchambers, the old library, the bakehouse and the tapestry corridor. The guides are knowledgeable and friendly and once you have toured the palace you are then free to wander through the gardens (don’t miss the glasshouses) following in the footsteps of royalty and admiring the palace from the outside. Exit is best made through the gift shop from where you are returned to East Port just a hundred meters or so away from where your tour began.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/But don’t just hurry through the shop! Stay a while and browse the well-stocked displays of Scottish history books, arts and crafts, delicacies like Scottish tablet (once tasted never forgotten), highland toffee (mind your fillings) and whisky marmalade (the breakfast spread of kings). You might buy yourself an ornamental spurtle (look it up) and, of course, this being Scotland you simply cannot leave without treating yourself to a miniature or two of malt whisky!

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/Actually, once you’ve toured the palace, the village of Falkland (Scotland’s first conservation village) is well worth a look. It has many interesting and historic buildings some of which have appeared in various movies over the years. Keep your eyes peeled for the ‘marriage lintels’ which appear in various places on several houses near the palace – they are an interesting and revealing insight into life in medieval times. The village also has hotels, bars and coffee shops where refreshments may be had.

Falkland village can become very busy during the tourist season – the palace is a popular attraction – and, once the main car parks are full, parking can be problematic so an early arrival would be a good idea. There are many companies who organise bus tours or private tours of both the village and the palace which will relieve you of the hassle of finding a parking space. Whichever way you choose to visit you won’t regret spending a day following in the footsteps of Scottish royalty!

For more information Visit Scotland:

 

Video tour of Falkland Palace:

Visit Scotland On A Budget

If you have always wanted to visit Scotland but have a limited budget then you will be pleased to know that there is a very affordable alternative to expensive hotels. The Scottish Youth Hostels Association, along with its affiliates, runs a network of self-catering hostels throughout Scotland offering budget access to the entire country and it’s a great way to see Scotland without breaking the bank.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/‘’But’’, I hear you ask, ‘’aren’t youth hostels those smelly wooden huts with bunk beds?’’ Once upon a time they were but not any more! Many of today’s youth hostels are modern, comfortable buildings with full facilities, often with family rooms and Scotland has a vast range of hostels from basic to amazing! They offer varying facilities from economy dormitories to private rooms with en-suite facilities and are ideal for families, groups and individuals of all ages.

They can be found in locations as diverse and scenic as the Isle of Skye (you must visit the ‘’Fairy Pools’’), Gairloch (go on a whale-watching trip) and many of the Hebridean islands, the Orkney Islands and the Shetland Islands (recently voted the three best areas to live in Scotland) as well as being scattered randomly throughout the country in both rural and urban locations.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/The Scottish Youth Hostels Association even have four-star rated hostels right in the middle of Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh and another in Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest city, as well as first-class hostels in other cities. But be warned – not all SYHA hostels are easy to get to, some are located in very remote areas. Glen Affric Youth Hostel is eight miles from the nearest road and the only way to reach it is by hiking over the hills!https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/

And there’s more! The Scottish Youth Hostels Association offer a series of activity holidays suitable for all levels of experience and fitness ranging from Munro-Bagging to Winter Skills to Tai Chi all of which are small groups led by qualified and experienced instructors and are a great way to learn new skills, so whatever you are seeking from a holiday in Scotland be it exploring the cities, an experience in the wilderness, or learning new skills, there is a hostel which will fit the bill for you – and that bill won’t be expensive.https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/

Membership of the Scottish Youth Hostels Association is surprisingly cheap and you don’t even have to be a member to stay in one! Costs vary but a one-off payment for a one-night stay in a hostel needn’t cost more than a couple of cups of coffee – a bargain certainly. And the Scottish Youth Hostels Association hasn’t forgotten Man’s Best Friend! For a small extra charge many of Scotland’s Youth Hostels are only too happy to welcome your canine companion but do check with the hostel first since the number of dog-friendly rooms is limited.

All things considered a tour of Scotland via its wonderful network of youth hostels is definitely worth thinking about.

FOR MORE ON SCOTTISH YOUTH HOSTELS VISIT THE SYHA WEBSITE

 

YouTube video:

North Coast 500: Explore Scotland by Road

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/
North Coast 500 Passing Place

Thinking of visiting Scotland but don’t really know where to start? Or maybe you’ve already done the castle trail, the whisky trail, and the city experience and now you want to see more of the real, wild Scotland. So what’s the best way to see Scotland’s amazing scenery without confining yourself to one or two relatively small areas?

How about the North Coast 500? A 500-mile road route around the coast of Scotland the North Coast 500 has been called ‘’Scotland’s Route 66’’ after the iconic highway in the USA which no longer exists as a complete route.

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

Beginning in Inverness this circular route can be done in either direction depending on which order you want to see the magnificent scenery it reveals to you. From narrow, single-track roads with passing places to long stretches of lonely road where, at times, you will hardly meet another vehicle, the North Coast 500 winds its scenic way around long, narrow, sea lochs where well-positioned parking places offer stunning views of cliffs, sandy almost inaccessible bays and misty views of distant islands.

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

From numerous vantage points around the route you will have the chance to see dolphins and whales of many different species, ever-present seals and many species of seabird as well as the recently reintroduced white-tailed sea eagle (the largest bird of prey in the UK and the fourth largest in the world).

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

Although mainly a coastal route the North Coast 500 does loop inland in places and there is a 60-mile cross-country section from Inverness in the east to the Applecross peninsula in the west giving you the opportunity to see some of Scotland’s beautiful inland lochs and mountains (you must pause at the head of Glen Docherty to gaze in awe at the view west to distant Loch Maree) as well as the chance to spot Scotland’s iconic bird, the golden eagle, soaring its way along the flanks of a hill and disappearing into the mist.

Along the route you will pass through scattered settlements and villages often with only a handful of houses and a couple of dozen inhabitants as well as larger towns although the biggest still does not exceed 10,000 people. Although it’s only 500 miles the North Coast 500 can’t be done in a couple of days. To do so would miss out on much of what the route has to offer.

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

There’s the Black Isle (not an island at all), John O’Groats at the tip of Scotland, unforgettable mountain scenery including Ben Hope (Scotland’s most northerly Munro), the bizarre-looking steep-sided ridge of Suilven, the fairytale castle of Dunrobin, Ardvreck castle ruins and Achmelvich and Dornoch beaches both of which, when the sun shines, will rival any caribbean beach. These are places to savour, not whiz past in a rush.

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/
Single Track Road

Spreading your journey over several days will give you the chance to sample the best which Scotland has to offer in the way of cuisine and accommodation and offers opportunities to divert a little from the route to visit places of special interest to you. It’s no wonder that the North Coast 500 route is regarded by many to be one of the best coastal trips on the planet! You may also wish to take some time to explore your starting place, the city of Inverness with its wonderful bridges over the river and its informal coffee shops and cafes. Inverness is also the place where, allegedly, the clearest English in the United Kingdom is spoken!

https://www.scotland.greatraveling.com/
Lonely Road Along the NC500

If you would love to experience this route but don’t want to organise it yourself or are reluctant to drive yourself (those single-track roads can be awkward if you’re not used to them or to driving on the ‘’wrong’’ side of the road) then don’t despair because there are travel companies which can chauffeur you along the route – either part way or all the way – enabling you to devote all your time to marvel at the passing scenery. Travel itineraries vary and you can choose from full-on luxury hotels to basic camping, travelling by either four wheels or two – including by bicycle.

Whichever direction you decide to take out of Inverness –  north up the east coast or west to Applecross – you will have an unforgettable journey and if you are sufficiently impressed by the North Coast 500 (and you won’t fail to be) then maybe you’ll come back next year and do it the other way around!

The North Coast 500 website has suggested itineraries, where to go, what to see and do and a very useful interactive map which shows accommodation and attractions all round the route. You really must take a look.

North Coast 500 Website:

North Coast Video on Youtube

All pictures courtesy of Pixabay.com CC0

Dance Your Way Around Scotland

image courtesy Erik Fitzpatrick/Flickr CC-BY 2.0
image courtesy Erik Fitzpatrick/Flickr CC-BY 2.0

Many visitors to Scotland look forward to savouring a ‘taste of the country’. Food and drink like atholl brose, cranachan, the many fine malt whiskies or even Scotland’s ‘other national drink’ might be consumed and the historic castles of Dunrobin, Stirling, Edinburgh and others will be sought out and explored. Glasgow’s impressive Victorian architecture and the breathtaking scenery of glencoe and the islands will be much photographed and no doubt Scotland’s changeable weather will be the subject of some comment!

There is one other activity which visitors to Scotland who wish to ‘taste the country’ should consider and that is the traditional evening of music, song and dance known as a cèilidh. Derived from an Old Irish word a cèilidh (kay’lee) was originally any social gathering the purpose of which was, apart from entertainment, to allow young people to meet potential marriage partners.

That original purpose, which served the gaelic-speaking communities of both Scotland and Ireland well for many centuries, has now been superseded by more modern activities but cèilidhs are still held as musical evenings or parties, especially in rural communities, whenever a celebration is called for – or to party just for the fun of it!

A cèilidh can be held just about anywhere – the village hall, a pub, a hotel or, in the more remote areas, a farmer’s barn or as an informal occasion in someone’s house (if you are lucky enough to be invited to the latter event then you will find it a memorable occasion and a true ‘taste of Scotland’).

The bigger, organised cèilidhs generally feature a whole host of traditional folk music and songs (often in gaelic) performed by professional cèilidh bands playing traditional instruments like the fiddle, the flute, the accordion and, of course, the bagpipes and dances like the ‘Gay Gordons’, the ‘Dashing White Sergeant’, the ‘Eightsome Reel’ and the ‘Canadian Barn Dance’ will be performed at most cèilidhs.

Photograph by David Dixon/Geograph UK https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/3910564
Photograph by David Dixon/Geograph UK
https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/3910564

Because of the remoteness of some communities informal cèilidhs are more common on the west coast and the islands especially as part of wedding or birthday celebrations. Cèilidhs are also organised as public events which anyone can attend and one of the best of these is held frequently in the west highland coastal town and ferry port of Oban.

If you are interested in seeing and taking part in a modern version of a traditional Scottish cèilidh then the live music venue ‘The View’ located on Oban’s main waterfront road is well-worth a visit and since cèilidhs are family-friendly you can bring the youngsters. Don’t forget your dancing shoes because once you hear that fiddle music you simply won’t be able to stay in your seat.

You will be encouraged to take part in the dancing (it isn’t compulsory but it’s great fun!) but don’t worry if you’re not familiar with the steps since most cèilidhs have a ‘prompter’ or master of ceremonies to keep you on the right track and, with a little bit of practice, you’ll soon be ‘swinging your partner’ with the best of them! Just like you can see here: