edinburgh castle

Beyond Braveheart – What makes Scotland special? Scottish Attractions

Queen Victoria was largely responsible for the romantic shortbread tin image that still entices visitors to Scotland today, and Prince Albert’s gift to her, Balmoral Castle, still remains a popular retreat for the royal family.

So, if Scotland is good enough for HM the Queen, surely it’s good enough for us common folk, whether you’re British and looking for a  “staycation” venue; from abroad seeking somewhere different to visit; or an ex-pat looking for your roots, Scottish Attractions has something for everyone. Except maybe the more ardent sun-worshippers, unless they are latter day druids! Scotland has it all. Stunning scenery, wildlife, historic sites and vibrant cities, and as a nation played a huge part in the technological, scientific and medical progress during the industrial revolution.

Edinburgh Castle

 Scottish Attractions – Mother of inventions!

Glancing at your electric clock, you realise it’s time to get up and after flushing the toilet you go down for breakfast. There’s not much in the fridge, so you pop some bread into the electric toaster and switch on the telly to watch the news. The phone rings – it’s your mate wanting you to play golf, but first you must mow the lawn and change the tyre on your car.  It looks like rain, so you put on your mackintosh, grabbing your camera in case the weather clears and you can take some nice colour photos.

So, what have the Scottish ever done for us? Well, did you spot eleven Scottish inventions in the above paragraph? Answers on a postcard, please…..another Scottish invention and….the winner gets a free deep fried Mars bar!

Necessity is the mother of invention, so they say, and Thomas Telford’s 19th century masterpiece of engineering, the Caledonian Canal was built to connect the east coast at Inverness to the west coast at Corpach, near Fort William, using man made waterways to link the lochs along the 60 mile Great Glen fault line. A more recent innovation, opened in 2002, is the Falkirk Wheel, a rotating boat lift between the Forth and Clyde canal and the Union Canal, re-connecting Glasgow with Edinburgh, and many visitors gather to see it in action.

Another interesting  man made waterway is the Pitlochry Fish Ladder that allows salmon to travel upstream during the breeding season, since their natural route was disrupted by the building of the nearby power station and thanks to the installation of CCTV, the public can observe them on their epic journey. There are coach tours from Edinburgh and Glasgow to take you to see these sights, if time is tight or you don’t want to self-drive.

Other famous Scottish “inventions”?

Deep fried pizza and fribabs (fried kebabs) have now taken over from the infamous mars bar!

Haggis? Thrifty Scots include bits of a sheep often discarded by others in this tasty national dish whilst Bagpipes  are a  wailing wind instrument designed to put the wind up the enemy before battle;

Kilts?  A skirt for men which comes in handy when mooning at the enemy during battle or Tartan. Which other nation can be instantly identified by a pattern on cloth and nearly everyone has some tartan lurking somewhere, even if it’s only on a soup tin or the lining of their raincoat.

The Highland Games? Forget the Olympics – this really sorts out the men from the boys, involving chucking obscure shaped heavy objects whilst accompanied by bagpipes amidst a sea of tartan.

More upmarket? The Edinburgh Military Tattoo is not body art, but a massive pipe, drum and kilt fest which is always a sell-out and is watched by millions on televisions around the globe!

The Edinburgh Festival? This began as a post war morale booster and grew into a multi-genre cultural summer event which launched the career of many playwrights, comedians and musicians, and probably sank a few too!

Desperate Dan? A large bronze statue of everyone’s favourite cowboy can be seen in Dundee, where the Dandy comic was published for over 50 years and the Loch Ness Monster, “Nessie” is a legend which certainly hasn’t done Scotland’s tourism industry any harm. Believer or sceptic, it’s always fun to look, just in case…..

edinburgh Castle military

 Scottish Attractions – A multiple choice destination

Coach tours to National Parks like The Trossachs or Cairngorms are exceptionally popular and Scotland’s outstanding natural beauty makes it a perfect destination for those who enjoy photography, painting, fishing and hiking, or observing wildlife in their natural habitat.

If you have time, it is possible to visit some of the unspoilt Scottish Islands, each with it’s own unique character whilst every era of history has left its mark on the Scottish landscape with an abundance of Neolithic remains, medieval ruins, castles and palaces, monasteries and cathedrals, reminders of the industrial revolution and WW11 are all waiting to be explored.

Whisky lovers can take a sampling trip to distilleries and, fried mars bar jokes aside, Scotland is actually a foodie heaven offering the freshest seafood and game imaginable.

If you’re looking for a city break, Glasgow has great shopping, friendly pubs and lively nightclubs, and as well as hosting the famous festival,  Edinburgh is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Using these cities as a base, you can venture out into the surrounding countryside to get the best of both worlds.

If you are you a “get in amongst it” or alternatively a “get away from it all” traveller please feel free to share your Scottish Experience with us.

Kate Quigley

Kate Quigley Travel Writer