Crossing the border from England to Scotland, the air always seems fresher and the landscape cleaner. Scotland is an extremely beautiful country, with a multitude of incredible places to visit.
From the pretty seaside towns of North Berwick and Dunbar south of Edinburgh to mainland Britain’s most northerly point at Dunnet Head, Scotland is 30,414 square miles of sweeping landscapes, rugged mountains and picturesque islands.
For many people, their only experience of Scotland is visiting Edinburgh and Glasgow. Despite their differences, both cities are very charming. Edinburgh’s hilly landscape means that there’s always an opportunity to view the city from above – Calton Hill, Blackford Hill, and, of course, the famous Arthur’s Seat are always worth a visit at sunset. The Royal Mile at the heart of the Old Town is also a quintessential Scottish experience, as there will always be bagpipes blaring out as you walk down the historical street. Meanwhile, Glasgow is Edinburgh’s cooler younger sibling, with the city’s grittier nature adding a certain charm that’s lost in touristy Edinburgh. The multitude of art galleries across the city, as well as its parks, means there’s plenty to do rain or shine.
The city’s crowning glory is Stirling Castle, situated at the top of the Old Town, and it offers incredible views across the surrounding countryside.
Heading further north, historical Stirling is a great place for a day trip. The National Wallace Monument which overlooks the city is also well worth a trip, especially in 2019, as it celebrates its 150th anniversary.
If you’re keen to explore the islands, then Mull and Islay are beautiful, with plenty to explore. For the more nostalgic amongst us, I’d recommend a trip to Tobermory, the colourful village in Mull where the famous Balamory was filmed. There’s nothing like reliving your childhood by visiting the orange house that was Spencer’s in the show.
Cities aside, the west coast of Scotland will always have my heart.
Scotland’s most beautiful area, however, lies further north: the Highlands area of Wester Ross. A great base to explore from is the village of Gairloch, situated on Loch Gairloch, and overlooked by the Torridon Mountains. From Gairloch, you can almost always see the hills of Skye in the distance, and, on a clear day, it’s possible to see all the way out to the Outer Hebrides. As a result, the views are incredible, particularly at sunset. The best time to go is early summer, where, if you survive being eaten alive by midges, you can enjoy the area’s beautiful beaches. Red Point beach to the south is lovely, whereas Mellon Udrigle white sand beach can be reminiscent of the Mediterranean on a sunny day. There’s also plenty of boat excursions from Gairloch, which gives you the chance to appreciate the wonderful wildlife of the area, from seals to minke whales. Located 70 miles from the nearest city, Gairloch remains Scotland’s best kept secret, despite it being one of the most beautiful places on earth.