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Archive for scotland

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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Eagle Island

By Linda Tancs

Mull is the second largest island of the Inner Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland. It’s known as Eagle Island, one of the best places in Scotland to spot golden and white-tailed eagles—virtually year round. In fact, thanks to the abundance of this and other wildlife, many tours are offered throughout the year. Ferries cross to the island at three points: Oban, Lochaline and Kilchoan. The best known and most used is the ferry from Oban to Craignure (near Mull’s most easterly point), which will get you there in under one hour.

The Gruffalo Trail

By Linda Tancs

Inspired by a children’s book about a mouse walking through a European forest, the Gruffalo Trail is a whimsical walk in Ardkinglas Estate, one of many features awaiting visitors at this property in Argyll, Scotland. On the shore at the head of Loch Fyne, set against a spectacular background of mountains and forest, Ardkinglas is noted for its outstanding collection of plants and trees amidst over 11,000 acres. Open year round, the woodland garden includes the “mightiest conifer in Europe” as well as woodland lochan, an ancient mill, a scriptorium and a thriving population of the region’s red squirrels.

Monuments to the Horse

By Linda Tancs

Two Clydesdales served as real life models for The Kelpies, a pair of steel behemoth equines honoring horses and their contribution to society. Presiding next to a new extension to the Forth and Clyde Canal in Falkirk, Scotland, the world’s largest equine sculptures represent an impressive feat of engineering completed in just 90 days in 2013. Nearly 100 feet high, each horse weighs 360 tons and is adorned with 928 unique stainless steel skin-plates. The best way to experience The Kelpies is by a 30-minute guided tour that takes you inside a structure. The site is accessible via road, bus, rail or boat with easy rail/bus transits from Edinburgh or Glasgow to Falkirk High.

A Celebration of Scottish History

By Linda Tancs

For over 150 years, Edinburgh’s National Museum of Scotland has been telling the story of Scotland from prehistoric times to the present day. It also follows the Scots whose ideas, innovations and leadership took them across the world. Likewise, world cultures are represented as is the history of the planet from meteorites to monsters of the deep. The multi-disciplinary venue on Chambers Street continues to grow, with 10 new Science and Technology and Art and Design galleries opening last year and new Ancient Egypt and East Asia galleries planned for 2018.

Pomp in Edinburgh

By Linda Tancs

From its early days, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has been an international favorite, with 70 percent of its attendants coming from outside Scotland and half of that percentage from overseas. The word “tattoo” comes from the closing-time cry in the inns in the Low Countries during the 17th and 18th centuries—“Doe den tap toe” (“Turn off the taps”). The event is a musical extravaganza set amidst the backdrop of Scotland’s Edinburgh Castle. From the bleacher seats you’ll experience the sights and sounds of dragoon guards, cavalry bands, royal regiments and international dancers and drum corps. This year’s event takes place from August 5 to August 27.

Glasgow’s Catacombs

By Linda Tancs

In Glasgow, Scotland, the catacombs aren’t the usual subterranean ossuary, the likes of which you’ll find in Paris. It might feel just as spooky, though, except for the new steak and gin restaurant gracing the brick vaults. We’re talking about Glasgow Central, the busiest train station in Scotland and the second busiest outside London. You can tour the entire station—from its iconic roof (with 48,000 imposing panes of glass) to its boiler rooms and tunnels and, yes, the catacombs. This is a unique guided tour of the operational areas of a hallmark of Victorian engineering. Wear sensible shoes and dress for the weather.

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