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Archive for scotland

A Light North of Shetland

By Linda Tancs

The perils and adventures of lighthouse building no doubt influenced Robert Louis Stevenson, whose father and uncle designed some 30 lighthouses around Scotland’s coasts. One such lighthouse, Muckle Flugga, is the U.K.’s northernmost light, located on a rocky outcrop off the northern tip of Unst in the Shetland Islands. The island’s remote location is cited as inspiration for Robert’s novel, Treasure Island. These days Unst is conveniently linked with the rest of the Shetlands by a bus and ferry system, giving you the chance to experience the island’s treasured grasslands and coastal cliffs for yourself.

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As coronavirus proceeds, it is likely that the vast majority of us will be limited in our travels. But this, too, shall pass. Our love for travel remains, so Travelrific will continue offering travel inspiration in this medium. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

A Landmark in Stirling

By Linda Tancs

Sir William Wallace is a national hero of Scotland, leading the nation in victorious battle in 1297 in its quest for independence from English rule at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Tried and sentenced for treason, his patriotism nonetheless paved the way for a later, decisive victory in the war for independence by Robert the Bruce. His courage and martyrdom are commemorated at the National Wallace Monument, standing on the Abbey Craig overlooking the city of Stirling. In the Hall of Arms inside the monument you’ll find Wallace’s sword and learn about Scotland’s most famous heroes. Take the 220-foot climb to the top of the monument for breathtaking views.

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As coronavirus proceeds, it is likely that the vast majority of us will be limited in our travels. But this, too, shall pass. Our love for travel remains, so Travelrific will continue offering travel inspiration in this medium. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Road to the Isles

By Linda Tancs

The A830, popularly known as the Road to the Isles, is one of the most famous roads in the United Kingdom. It connects the town of Fort William to the port of Mallaig, where the West Highland railway line terminates. Sporting some of the nation’s best scenic views, it’s abounding in woodlands, moors, sandy beaches and sea views. And just a ferry ride away (year round) are the Small Isles (Eigg, Canna, Muck and Rum), one of 40 National Scenic Areas in Scotland, where local food, wildlife, archaeological sites and amazing sunsets await you.

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As coronavirus proceeds, it is likely that the vast majority of us will be limited in our travels. But this, too, shall pass. Our love for travel remains, so Travelrific will continue offering travel inspiration in this medium. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters

By Linda Tancs

This year marks Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters. There’s so much to see, loch to loch and everything in between. If you’d like to experience the most in one touring route, then consider the North Coast 500, an epic, 516-mile scenic route around the north coast of Scotland. Starting and ending at Inverness Castle, it’s the nation’s version of U.S. Route 66. Pursue the trek counterclockwise, traveling the east coast and then venturing into the northwest to Applecross, followed by Torridon and Ullapool. From there you’ll see some of the most northerly points, like Caithness and its village, John o’Groats. But don’t stop there. The northernmost point of the mainland is Dunnet Head, a few miles further west.

Scotland’s Oldest Museum

By Linda Tancs

Elgin Museum is Scotland’s oldest independent museum. Although there’s a special emphasis on the history of its locale along the Moray Firth, it features everything from fish fossils dating back over 450 million years to a 21st century, energy-saving light bulb. If you need another reason to visit Elgin, then consider that it’s nestled in a world-famous whisky region. A number of local distilleries, including Glen Moray, Gordon & MacPhail and Glen Elgin, have open days for the public and whisky trails.

Caledonian Splendor

By Linda Tancs

Once upon a time, a vast woodland known as the Caledonian Forest covered much of Scotland. Formed at the end of the last ice age, its remnants are still visible in places like Glen Affric, considered one of the most beautiful places in Scotland. Thick with trees, its mix of Scots pine, birch, oak and Douglas fir is a big reason why the glen is protected as a National Nature Reserve. Several animals call these ancient woods home, like its iconic red deer (most visible in winter and autumn), pine martens and red squirrels. The protected environment is also invaluable for rare species like golden eagles and black grouse. A short distance from Loch Ness, the River Affric runs the length of the reserve, where trails offer stunning views of the mountains, towering trees and waterfalls.

Paradise in the Highlands

By Linda Tancs

As many a diary and motion picture can attest, Queen Victoria found paradise in the Scottish Highlands, particularly at Balmoral. Then and now, one of the core attractions of Deeside is its scenery—glens and forests, rivers and lochs, grand highland estates, mountains and moorlands, flora and fauna. You can experience it like a Royal by exploring the Victorian Heritage Trail, a 76-mile route from Drumoak to Braemar. Along the way, you can visit sites like the restored railway track once used by Queen Victoria to journey to Balmoral, the magnificent grounds of Drum Castle, the Victorian village of Ballater, the heather and pines of Glen Tanar and the town of Braemar surrounded by Cairngorms National Park. The grounds and select areas of Balmoral Castle are open to the public when the Queen is not in residence, generally from April through July.

The Great North Road

By Linda Tancs

You might think of the U.K.’s Great North Road as the nation’s version of iconic Route 66 in the United States—only with a lot more history attached. It was the only way of traveling the 409 miles between London and Edinburgh for centuries until it was subsumed into the A1 (the longest numbered road in Britain) and other motorways of today. In prehistoric times it comprised part of the network of Roman roads: Ermine Street led from London to York, and Dere Street from York to Edinburgh. The ancient route is lined today with rusting mile markers; its cultural significance is marked by literary giants like Charles Dickens, a frequent traveler who gave it a nod in The Pickwick Papers. There’s even an old street sign inside the rock at Gibraltar where a vehicle tunnel was dug.

Stone Skimming in Scotland

By Linda Tancs

Are you an ace stone skimmer? There’s a competition just for you on Easdale Island in Argyll, Scotland. The annual World Stone Skimming Championships is open to anyone of any age and any level of skill. To qualify, the stone (no more than 3 inches in diameter and formed naturally of Easdale slate) must hit the water three times and sink within the designated lane as marked by the buoys. The event takes place this year on September 23.

Scotland’s Fair Isle

By Linda Tancs

Of Scotland’s 790 or so offshore islands, which is the most fair? Opinions may differ, but the easiest response is the one so named. Fair Isle is an island in northern Scotland lying halfway between the mainland and Shetland. The small island is home to about 70 residents and is renowned for its bird observatory and style of knitting. This off-the-beaten-path tourist destination also offers visitors 250 species of flowering plants that have earned the locale the nickname “Island of Flowers.” It’s accessible via air or boat.

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