The Wonder of Scotland

by Frank Goddard

The United Kingdom is an immensely popular place to visit for a vacation. The United Kingdom consists of four countries; England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland and each are very different with distinctive cultures accents and languages. The vast majority of the citizens readily place their own country above all others within Britain stating their nationality but all can also call themselves to be British. So, a person from Scotland can be both Scottish while also being British. However, even since Scotland first joined the Union in 1707 there have been a large number of Scottish folk who wish to be independent of England.

Think of Scotland and the vast majority of folk will bring to mind images of bagpipes, tartan, kilts and the likes, younger folk may think of the “Tartan Army” and the massive support for the national football club of Scotland, but all will have rather similar thoughts of what is truly Scottish. Sadly much of the quaint biscuit tin lid pictures of Scotland are little more than a very clever marketing campaign which started a long time ago when the likes of Sir Walter Scott (a famous poet and novelist) worked hard to promote Scotland as a vacation destination to the British Royal Family and the English upper classes. To discover the true Scottish culture we need to take a closer look at the country’s history but, more importantly, we can take a look at the different regions and the most important cities which often have distinctive differences.

While Sir Walter Scott took much from the Highland way of life and repackaged it, in what he considered a more suitable form for the English aristocracy, the basic elements are distinctively Highland. The tartan kilt is the traditional dress of the region and is still seen throughout the area today, though more often at weddings and in traditional pipe bands. Besides the tartan cloth, kilts and bagpipes, there is much to interest the tourist in the Highlands not least the most incredible countryside which consists of the most spectacular mountains and misty glens. Towns such as Fort William and the city of Inverness are few and far between with little more than rough open countryside, dotted with numerous tiny villages, between them. Even more remote are the islands of the Hebrides, while the Isle of Skye (Inner Hebrides) may be the most popular the islands of the Outer Hebrides are increasingly popular with tourists keen to enjoy the distinctive Gaelic culture.

The capital city of Scotland is Edinburgh and it’s roots can go back thousands of years. Surprisingly there are still some fine examples of old buildings to be found in this thoroughly modern city of culture. Of course the city is dominated by Edinburgh Castle but there is much, much more to entice the tourist not least the incredible number of festivals spread throughout the year from the Edinburgh Festival in the summer to the New Year’s Hogmanay celebrations in the winter.

Glasgow is a much more modern city in that it sprang up, from what was little more than a village to the metropolis it is today, during the industrial revolution. The height of the city’s success was during the Victorian period when the tobacco merchants made their fortunes which they invested in large civic buildings which remain in use today and give Glasgow it’s distinctive looks. Strangely it is Glasgow, rather than Edinburgh, which is the largest city in Scotland.

Edinburgh might be the capital and Glasgow the largest but there are numerous other cities in Scotland that merit investigation if you are planning a vacation in Scotland. Stirling has one of the finest castles to be found in the United Kingdom, St Andrews has some of the finest, and most historic, golf courses in the world and all other towns and cities have their own tourist attractions. One of the most unusual, but incredibly popular, is the amazing piece of engineering called the Falkirk Wheel.

Whatever your interests Scotland can provide the location for your perfect vacation. When you have chosen where to base yourselves you can investigate all of the tourist attractions but it is also well worth finding out what tours are available. One of the most popular types of tours in Scotland is the whisky tour but others are just as popular, such as Edinburgh’s many ghost tours. So, when you are next choosing a vacation destination give Scotland some thought.

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