Scotland, United Kingdom
Scotland is more than just bagpipes, kilts, and haggis. From the rolling hills and forests of the highlands to the historic architecture and cobblestone streets of Edinburgh, join me on a tour through this fascinating country.
I traveled through Scotland for a couple weeks this winter to celebrate their traditional Hogmanay New Year. While Scotland is not a large country, there’s a lot to see, and I only experienced a small part of it. Staying mainly in Edinburgh and the Highlands area around Inverness and Aviemore.
But I was exposed to a completely new culture. I learned some Gaelic slang (Ye havin a bevvy the nite?), ate sheep guts for breakfast (a side of Haggis, please) and developed a taste for good whisky (peaty varieties from Islay are my favorite).
So here are a few photos from my adventures in Scotland. A small slice of life in Caledonia. Enjoy!
Scotland was once completely covered in woodlands. The ground in these forests is covered with peat, a type of semi-decayed vegetation. This makes it soft and cushiony, like a thick carpet under your feet. Walking on peat feels pretty strange at first. It’s also burned to dry barley for whisky in some parts of the country. This grove of trees is located on the backroads of Aviemore in the Highlands.
In the North, the City of Inverness is considered the “Capital of the Highlands”. Part of my Scotland trip was spent exploring this beautiful town and the countryside surrounding it. The River Ness runs through the center of town, sending water from Loch Ness to the sea. Inverness Castle sits on its banks — lit up for the Hogmanay New Year.
The Woolly Bully
These funny looking animals are called Highland Cows, or coos if you want the proper Gaelic accent. We’d been searching for them all week, and found this guy guarding his harem of females. They come in two colors, red and black. Highland Coos have thick shaggy hair that keeps them warm in the windy and rainy Scottish highlands.
How could I publish a Scottish photo essay without including a set of pipes! Bagpipes use a reservoir of air to enable a constant stream of sound from the musician. Primarily used for special ceremonies — but you’ll find street performers playing them around Edinburgh. While visiting the town of Inverness, I was lucky enough to catch an outstanding performance by the Scottish rock band The Red Hot Chilli Pipers. Check em’ out for a more modern example of what bagpipes can do.
Full Cooked Breakfast
A Full Breakfast, sometimes called an English Breakfast, has a style all its own in Scotland. Along with the typical eggs, sausage, bacon, toast, and beans, you’ll also find Black Pudding, grilled tomato, mushrooms, and sometimes Haggis (minced sheep organs). Add tea and porridge, and you’ll be eating like a proper Scot.
Scotland’s old Bedlam Theatre building houses the oldest student-run theater in Britain. Named after the Bedlam Mental Institute that was nearby. Once a church, but given to Edinburgh University who eventually turned it into a 90 seat theater for plays and improve comedy. I believe that strange looking car on the right is called a Citroën H Van. I’ve decided I want one for a road trip.
Snowboarding? In Scotland? Yeah, I didn’t think it was possible either. But here’s the photo proof. Cairngorm Mountain is located in the Highlands, with plenty of snow in the winter. So I rented some gear and hit the slopes for a day. Not only was it snowing, there were whiteout conditions at the top! With no trees on the mountain — wind gets a bit crazy there sometimes.
St. Johns Church
Located on the end of Princes Street, the Church of St John the Evangelist was built in the 1800’s by architect William Burns. In the foreground is a famous black Hackney Carriage, a kind of taxi primarily used for urban transportation throughout Scotland and the UK. I never did ride in one, and I kind of regret it now!
The Scottish National Gallery houses some of the world’s greatest art on both a permanent and rotating basis. Not to mention it’s free to visit! While I was there, Rodin’s famous sculpture “The Kiss” was on temporary display. In this photo my friend Kirsten gazes at The Feast of Herod, another popular piece.
Scottish Polar Bear?
Truly a rare sight, the Highland Polar Bear was thought to be just a myth until recently. We were lucky to spot not one, but TWO of the giant creatures at Highland Wildlife Park outside Aviemore. Walker and Arktos here are spoiled with a large 4 acre enclosure to play in, that includes this luxury plunge pool.
A rugged fortress perched above an inactive volcano, Scotland’s Edinburgh Castle is home to the Scottish Royal Jewels and The Stone of Destiny (used to crown the Kings and Queens of England). With some of its architecture dating back to the 12th century, the castle is an important part of Scotland’s national heritage. And did I mention it’s on a friggin’ volcano?
Bothy Stone Cabin
After Runaway Juno and I discovered the Loch Ness Monster, we took a drive through the countryside hunting for our next important target, the bothy. A bothy is a simple stone house built in the highlands for travelers/hikers to use as temporary shelter. They are also used as guest houses or for estate workers, and some have been fixed up for tourists. Many have red doors.
Scottish Black Face Sheep
Scotland has a lot of sheep. We passed multiple sheep farms when driving through the highland countryside. These are Scottish Blackface sheep, a popular breed raised primarily for meat (and tasty organs) rather than their wool. Both the males & females have horns, and the thick coat helps them survive harsh winters throughout the United Kingdom while living on rugged landscapes.
If only the dead could talk. Well here in Greyfriars Cemetery, they not only talk to you, but will also bite, kick, and strangle you. Regarded as one of the most haunted places in the United Kingdom, Greyfriars has around 400,000 corpses piled into the shape of a hill. Many of these people did not die well. Some weren’t even dead yet when they were buried here. You can learn more about this place in a future post I have planned… subscribe here for updates!
What Do You Think?
Have you ever traveled to Scotland? Which of my photos above is your favorite and why?
#blogmanay is brought to you by Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and is supported by ETAG, EventScotland, Homecoming Scotland, VisitScotland, Edinburgh Festivals, Marketing Edinburgh and Haggis Adventures. Created and produced by Unique Events. As always, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.