A wee tour of scotland

A Wee Tour of Scotland

A Wee Tour of Scotland

This year I decided to go on a short tour of Scotland, taking in both the Lowlands and the Highlands. Because I had a limited time to take in the attractions I decided to start on the West Coast of Scotland. I saw a few famous castles and an abbey before going to view Glen Nevis, a wonderful and scenic moor at the foot of Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in Scotland, just outside Inverness. I finished my trip with a visit to the last place in Britain where a civil war had been fought.

My trip started when I went to Dumfries and Galloway on the south coast, a county that borders on England. I already knew a little bit of the history of the area, and I wanted to see one of the historical buildings I had seen on the internet. This was Sweetheart Abbey.

New Abbey, also known as Sweetheart Abbey, lies eight miles south of Dumfries. It was founded in 1275 by Dervorguilla of Galloway, daughter of Alan, Lord of Galloway. She did so in memory of her husband John de Balliol.

His embalmed heart was buried alongside her in a casket of ivory and silver when she died. The monks at the Abbey renamed the Abbey in tribute to her. The couple’s son, John, became king of Scotland. His reign was tragically short. The graves became lost over the years of depredations.

New Abbey is made of local sandstone and was founded as a daughter house to Dundrennan Abbey. The Novum Monasterium, New Monastery, became known as the New Abbey.

I left Dumfries and Galloway and travelled to just outside Ayr, in the county of Ayrshire, where I found Culzean Castle and Country park, which was given to the National Trust by the Kennedy family and covers a total of five hundred and sixty-three acres.

Robert Adams, his father and brothers were famous designers of the 18th and 19th centuries. Many of their buildings still exist in various parts of Britain and are protected as listed buildings. Culzean Castle is one of these. Robert Adams designed the Castle and it is regarded as his final masterpiece. The castle is associated with the turbulent history of the Clan Kennedy.

The castle contains an exquisite collection of pictures and 18th Century furniture alongside an armoury which was set up in the 19th century. The beautiful Oval Staircase is Robert Adam’s final masterpiece of interior design and there is no more fitting tribute to this wonderful architect. I would urge anyone visiting Scotland to consider coming to this impressive building.

President Eisenhower was given the freedom of Culzean after the Second World War and was granted his own apartment in the building for the rest of his life.

Moving up from the outskirts of Ayr, I soon came to Kilmarnock where I found the fully restored Dean Castle. This fine building was (not suprisingly) known as Kilmarnock castle until it was presented to the town of Kilmarnock by Lord Boyd in the 1960’s and renamed after the surrounding Dean Forest.

The castle originally belonged to the Soulis clan, who were descended from the French rulers of Britain, arriving after 1066. The castle then passed into the hands of the Boyd clan in the 16th century. The titular Lord Kilmarnock had the distinction of being beheaded in 1746 in London after taking the wrong side in the Jacobite rebellion.

The castle itself was largely ruined. The only full original building is the Dower House, a large residence built by the owners in the early 20th century. The house was badly needed, because the castle was a ruin. It has now been restored by a combination of subscription and public funding. The great hall of the castle has walls over three metres thick, there is a keep tower, a dungeon into which I descended and sat without a light for a few seconds, and a well in the courtyard. Along the wall of the castle is a wooden, enclosed walkway that would have been used by the mistress of the house in wet weather when needing a quiet stroll. This is called Lady’s Walk.

Still in Ayrshire, but crossing the water by ferry to do so, I went to visit Arran, leaving Ardrossan shore to get there. Brodick Castle is a red sandstone castle nestling quietly in a wooded area at the foot of Goatfell Mountain. Its stunning position allows a breathtaking view across Brodick Bay. The name Brodick originates from the Norse word meaning broad bay. Arran means peaked island in Gaelic.

The castle was built on the site of a Viking fortress. Its contents include quality silver, exquisite porcelain, paintings and sporting trophies.

The castle contains both a beautiful garden and the rest of the surrounding countryside has been designated as a country park. The woodland garden was started in 1923 and is now home to an internationally acclaimed rhododendron collection. You can see a restored Victorian garden during your visit through the Park and enjoy waterfalls, gorges, a nature room, wildlife garden and signposted trails.

Look out for the Ice House. This was where they used to pack ice in the winter in a hole in the ground and then store it in readiness for the summer. The Bavarian Summer House of 1845 is a hexagonal wooden structure decorated with elaborate arrangements of fir cones.

Leaving Ayrshire I travelled in my hired car via Loch Ness, where the famous monster is supposed to live, through Glencoe and up to Glen Nevis, which comes from the Gaelic Gleann Nibheis.

The magnificent Glen Nevis is home to one of the three highest waterfalls in Scotland, including Steall Falls, where the Allt Coire a’Mhail joins the Water of Nevis. Below the waterfall is a steeply walled and impressive gorge.

The Highland Council have ensured that for travellers into Glen Nevis, there is a car

park at the entrance to the path that runs along the gorge. There is a rather steep climb up the path, and it leads into the peaceful glen. A wire bridge leads across to the base of the waterfall. There is a sign at the car park that warns that the steep path is potentially lethal, but the council has eased access and reduced soil erosion with some of their building measures on the route. Soil erosion is an unfortunate effect of the many interested walkers to this area. But the measures taken by the Council have reduced this problem.

One of the reasons for the fame of this area is that its outstanding natural beauty means that it was chosen as one of the prime locations in the ‘Harry Potter,’ movies. I was not surprised to find that Glen Nevis was also used in principal filming for Braveheart with Mel Gibson, and Rob Roy, which starred Liam Neeson. The Fort William authorities are clearly forward-looking and know that encouraging the making of feature films will bring in revenue and show the beauty of the area, encouraging future tourism.

Now that I was in the Highlands, I decided to visit Inverness, which is further up from Fort William. Just outside Inverness is an area of historical importance called Culloden or Drumossie Moor. It is here that the Battle of Culloden happened on the 16th of April 1746. This is the last battle to be fought on mainland Britain. It was between the French-supported Jacobites and the British Hanoverians, and was brought about by the Jacobites attempt to restore the House of Stuart to the throne of Britain.

The Jacobites supported Charles Edward Stuart’s claim to the throne – he was known also as Bonnie Prince Charlie. The Duke of Cumberland, known as Butcher Cumberland, supported his father’s cause. He was the younger son of the Hanoverian sovereign, King George II. He acquired the nickname of ‘Butcher’ because of his brutality during and after the battle, when his command was to leave no man standing.

Culloden boasts a Visitors Centre where you may view weapons and artefacts associated with the battle, an audio-visual program in a variety of languages, a shop and restaurant. There are facilities for visitors with disabilities. The last audio-visual show is half an hour before closing.

I enjoyed my visit to the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland. With a limited time for my trip – five days in my case – I was not able to visit all the attractions I wanted to see, but that just means I will have to return soon to see what else this wonderful country has to offer.

All the attractions I went to can be seen in a new web directory. This is:


Scotland – Places to Visit has directory entries and pictures of Scottish attractions and activities. In addition it contains a whole series of articles about Scottish words, recipes, and places to eat. It is a great resource for the traveller, with every entry giving exact locations, addresses and contact numbers. Links are given to multimap and websites of the attractions involved. Try it, you won’t be disappointed.

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Опубликовано 12 Aug 2010 в 2:06 pm. Рубрика: A. Вы можете следить за ответами к этой записи через RSS.
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