Scotland - The most wonderful place on Earth
The first time you visit the Western Highlands of Scotland is likely to remain in your memory for ever. Nowhere else has quite the same appeal, whether it is rugged mountains, colourful moorland, beautiful lochs, white sand beaches or ruined castles (and a few that are still whole!)
The story of Bonny Prince Charlie and the song “Over the Sea to Skye” are familiar to many people and the Isle of Skye encapsulates the beauty of Scotland’s scenery within the confines of the island. It is now possible to drive across to Skye via the road bridge, but this does not detract from the feeling of anticipation as the island approaches. Many people decide to travel up the west coast of Scotland and approach Skye via the short car ferry journey from the gorgeous white sands of Mallaig, then drive north, past the Cuillin Hills, which are renowned world-wide for climbing, before staying perhaps in Portree, the island’s main town. The northern end of the island is lower, with scattered croft communities which retain all the atmosphere of a traditional way of life.
The whole of the west coast of Scotland has stunning scenery, from Argyll’s “Secret Coast”, or the Mull of Kintyre, (also made famous through a Paul McCartney song), up past the heights of Ben Nevis, at Fort William, to the spectacular drive across the Applecross Peninsular. A little further north you reach the pretty town of Gairloch, with its many appealing restaurants and superb beach.
If gardens appeal, then the famous gardens at Inverewe, just north of Poolewe, will be a definite stop. Because of the warmth of the Gulf Stream, many tropical plants and trees grow here and there is year-round interest. There are many other attractive gardens throughout the area, well worth a visit.
Scotland has a long and often violent history, as the different clans used to fight for land. It has also had many arguments with the English, especially over the rival claims to the throne. Battlefields like Flodden, in 1513, have successfully created an outdoor record of the progress of the battle, with a walk of around an hour incorporating a series of information boards, illustrating where the English and Scottish troops fought.
Whatever your preference, you will always be happy to comply with the greeting at many of the borders travelling south to England of “Haste ye back”!
View south from the summit of Heaval
From here you can see Castlebay and also over to the islands of Vatersay, Sandray, Pabbay, Mingulay and Barra Head.
Photgraph Chris McLean
Get Married in Scotland
Did you know that by Scottish law you can marry anywhere? Click here to find out how, then decide whether you prefer a castle or a quiet mountainside. Jane Patmore is an interfaith minister who we recommend for those considering a wedding in Scotland.