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Highlands To The Islands - Scotland

Updated: Dec 20, 2023

As a Scot, I am incredibly proud and passionate about my home country of Scotland. I love being a tour guide and showing family, friends, and visitors around when they visit. What you might not know is that over the years when not travelling, I have shared my passion while working at Edinburgh Airport both at an accommodation reservation company and also with Visit Scotland. I have also worked at Edinburgh Bus Tours, for an English Language School and on the road with Visit Scotland's coo vans. Come join me on a tour from the Highlands To the Islands of Scotland.



Highlands To The Islands - Scotland


There are many ways you can see an incredible beauty and all the sights Scotland has to offer. This could be via a campervan or perhaps from a boat while cruising along one of Scotlands' beautiful canals. How will you explore Scotland?


While we are unable to travel at the moment, it's a great time to plan future trips.


Visit Scotland - Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder


We can't wait to welcome you back and when the travel restrictions are lifted. Live in Scotland, what about that staycation you have always dreamt about?


Planning


This is a great time to plan. What are you interested in seeing? One of Scotland's historic castles, tasting one of its finest whiskies, or perhaps exploring its ancient woodlands with waterfalls.


How much time do you have? Budget? Independent or perhaps you would like everything organised with a packaged tour? There are pros and cons for example; you have more flexibility if you have a car to stop and stay longer at a point of interest. The drawback is you have to find your own way and might miss something very cool.


Best Time To Visit Scotland


Scotland is great to visit all year round. There are lots of seasonal highlights from its glorious spring flowers, summer festivals, autumn foliage, and winter celebrations.


The Snowdrop Festival takes place annually throughout Scotland between the end of January and the beginning of March. It's magical seeing these tiny flowers cover the woodland floors.


Scotland is not only beautiful but a romantic destination. Why not visit for a special occasion or Valentine's Day?


Autumn is my favourite time of year. I love the colourful foliage, seeing the Enchanted Forest in Pitlochry and of course, the light for photography is magical. Have you heard of Autumn in Aberfeldy? Here are my favourite places to see autumn in Scotland and Top Autumn Activities to experience.


Celebrating New Year in Scotland is said to be one of the best in the world, with events such as the torch parade, the big Hogmanay party on Princes Street in Edinburgh and for the brave souls the loony dook on New Year's Day.


Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh ©MDHarding


Doors To Scotland


Will you arrive in Scotland's capital Edinburgh, the neighbouring city of Glasgow or another, by train or perhaps an international/domestic flight?


Scotland also has a few cruise ports such as Greenock (Glasgow), Rosyth (Edinburgh), Leith (Edinburgh), Aberdeen, Invergordon (Inverness), and Kirkwall (Orkney).


Did you know I also worked on cruise ships? Are you planning a cruise? If you have any questions, don't hesitate to get in touch.


Costa Cruise Ship Tendering into Newhaven, Edinburgh ©MDHarding


Travelling within Scotland


On arrival which forms of transport will you opt for? Did you know there is a train pass (Scotrail) and also a bus pass (Citylink Scotland). One of these might be better than the other depending on your route. Booking ahead is the best way to secure good rates for car hire and motorhomes. Travelling within Scotland is easy with so many methods of transport.


A few years ago we hired a Space Campervan to explore the Scottish Highlands, Skye, and then over on the Calmac Ferry to the Islands of Harris and Lewis. Highly recommend! There is so much to see and do including visiting some of the most breathtaking beaches!


You may opt to do organised day trips with one of the bus tours companies such as Rabbies, Timberbush, Heart of Scotland, Grayline, and Highland Explorer to name a few.


Some examples of tours are Doune, Loch Lomond, and The western Highlands,


Window To The World, Island of Harris, Scotland ©MDHarding


Accommodation


Ever wondered what it would be like staying in a Scottish Castle or on the shores of Loch Ness? There are so many amazing options available for all budgets but I would recommend booking in advance. Need some help? Get in touch via email: enquiries@MDHardingTravelPhotography.com


Barony Castle, Scottish Borders ©MDHarding


Driving Routes


You have maybe heard of the NC500 (North Coast 500) but have you heard about the SW300 (South West 300)? What about Scotland's top five trails not to be missed?




Scottish Highlands


Jump onto the Scottish Highlands & Inverness What Not to be missed and Why You Should Visit Wester Ross.


Wester Ross, Scotland ©MDHarding


Scottish Islands


Reaching the Scottish Islands is a lot easier than maybe first thought. It just takes a little planning to pre-book your car or motorhome in advance this is especially true for popular ferry crossings including Oban to Mull. Don't have a car, you can turn up and walk on.


With 900 Scottish Islands which ones will you visit?


Did you know you can visit a few at a time with organised tours? For example, you can take the tour from Oban to Mull, Staffa, and Iona.


Perhaps you would like to visit one of the smaller islands of Papa Westray?


Tobermory, Mull, Scotland ©MDHarding


Attractions And Places Of Interest


Did you know you can save money by purchasing a pass? Both the National Trust and Historic Scotland passes offer incredible value for money when you visit more than two or three properties. Each pass offers different property options such as Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle, Linlithgow Palace, and many more. Discover more about Scottish Historic Castles & Palaces to Visit.


Have you heard about the Stone of Destiny? I have loads of great stories about the Stone of Destiny. Find out more about it on my walking, food, and photography tour in Edinburgh.


Not forgetting Scotland's two National Parks the Cairngorms formed over 40 million years ago and Loch Lomond and The Trossachs.


Walking tours are a great way to see some of the city and discover more from locals. In Edinburgh, there are Invisible Tours, Harry Potter, Food Tours, and much more!


Visiting Edinburgh on a budget? You can visit the museums and art galleries for free. There are some exceptions with large gallery exhibitions.


To appreciate Edinburgh, one has to see the city from one of the many vantage points from Edinburgh Castle to the extinct volcano.


For adults only, Edinburgh has an amazing array of pubs. From ones decorated as barbershops to ones that could have stepped out of a movie.


Glasgow is known for its music scene, home of Tennent's Brewery, the incredible Acropolis, and Sir Billy Connolly.


Would you like to find out how to see Glasgow on a budget and Explore Unique Glasgow Walking Tours? Get in touch!


Do you love art & design? What about a visit to Scotland's First Design Museum: V&A Dundee? Dundee is famous for its jute, jam, and journalism. Here's what not to miss in the City of Discovery.


Is your head always in the clouds? Have you seen all the attractions for aviation enthusiasts or perhaps a trainspotter? Don't miss a visit to the Scottish Borders along the Waverley Route - named after the novel by Sir Walter Scott.


I'm a flora and fauna fanatic, so one of the things I love to do is stroll around some of the best Scottish gardens, visit Scotland's very own Alcatraz - Bass Rock, and visit the beautiful lochs, such as Loch Tay.


Bass Rock, North Berwick ©MDHarding


Scotland's Coast


This year being the Year of Coast and Waters 2020 in Scotland, I couldn't wait to share about the beautiful coastlines.


All of Scotland's coastlines have something different and beautiful about them, from beautiful beaches to incredible rock formations like the stunning Bow & Fiddle Rock near Portknockie on the northeast coast.


The region of Fife is bountiful with pirate caves, beaches, and quaint fishing villages.



Fiddle & Bow Rock, Near Portknockie ©MDHarding

Family Days Out


Have you heard of an akwakat? It's like a bike attached to two canoes on the water. So much fun! Highly recommend.


There is one part of Scotland that should be on your list and that is Dumfries and Galloway. The gem of Scotland is home to the birthplace of Robert Burns, David Coulthard, and the UK's first Dark Sky Park.


North Berwick is only a stone's throw away from Edinburgh and a great day out for all the family. Another day trip that you might like to consider is to the old market town - Falkirk. En route, you could stop by Linlithgow and visit the home of Mary Queen of Scots - Linlithgow Palace.


Scotland has loads of magical experiences from visiting Loch Ness, visiting the Kelpies at Helix Park, or taking a stroll on Doon Hill.


Don't miss a visit to the Scottish Borders with incredible stately homes including Sir Walter Scott's home - Abbotsford.


One that you might like to consider is a visit to see one of Scotland's famous animals the Highland Cow (Heilan Coo). One of the best places to stop is the Green Welly, Tyndrum at Crianlarich.


Highland Cow, Scotland ©MDHarding


Festivals


Red Red Rose


Snowdrop Festival


Edinburgh International Film Festival



Whisky Festivals


Gin Festival


Oyster Festival


Beltane Fire Festival


Plus there are lots more!


Beltane Fire Festival, Edinburgh ©MDHarding


Books and Film Locations


Have you ever been inspired to visit a destination you have read about or seen in a movie? Scotland has been the home of many! From Braveheart to Dan Brown's Da Vinci.


Outside the city of Edinburgh lies the village of Rosslyn, home of Rosslyn Chapel famed for being in the Da Vinci Code. Have you read the book or watched the films?


Rosslyn Chapel Carvings, Rosslyn, Edinburgh ©MDHarding


Scotland's People


Scotland has so many interesting stories and people. Here are just a few;-


Arthur Conan Doyle - World Famous Detective Sherlock Holmes.


Stevenson's - Scotland's Lighthouses.



Robert Burns - Burns Night.


J.M Barrie - Kirriemuir Scotland: The Home of Peter Pan.


Dr. Livingston - One of Scotland's "Great Scots".


John Muir - Visit The Birthplace of the Founder of National Parks in The U.S.A. - The Royal Burgh of North Berwick.


Eduardo Paolzzi - Pop Art In Edinburgh.


Beatrix Potter - Peter Rabbit.


Abbotsford House, Scottish Borders ©MDHarding


Beyond The Norm


Walk On The Wild Side In Edinburgh - Did you know there is a country and western site in Edinburgh?


Scottish Battle Sites That Changed History - Bannockburn, Cullodean, Stirling Bridge, and Falkirk.


Scottish Green Tourist Attractions - The hollowed-out mountain in Argyll and Bute is home to the Cruachan Power Station and is well worth a visit! I also recommend a stroll around the UK's largest onshore windfarm - Whitelee Windfarm. Located only 20 minutes by car from central Glasgow. Its 215 turbines generate up to 539 megawatts of electricity, enough to power over 350,000 homes


Wonderful Woodlands & Scottish Forest Parks - Did you know that the Cairngorms National Park is home to the ancient Caledonian Forest?


Old Stirling Bridge and Wallace Monument, Stirling ©MDHarding


Scottish Food


Must try Scottish food and drink you don't want to miss haggis, shortbread, and Irn Bru.


Local Fresh Mushroom Pastry Parcel, Barony Castle, Scottish Borders ©MDHarding


There is lots more of Scotland, this is just a taster. I hope you have enjoyed reading and inspired to plan you're up and coming trip.


Until next time, stay safe and well x

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