Scotland Travel Advice
Scotland is blessed with some truly stunning scenery, but you'll need your trusty Spaceship to get around as public transport is non-existent in the more remote parts of the country. Scotland it part of the United Kingdom, but has a strong national identity. The two major cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh are towards the south and generally as you venture north the towns give way to a series of mountain ranges, each one more impressive than the last!
Most visitors to Scotland on a 7 day tour will start in either Edinburgh or Glasgow and head north to the Highlands, visit Loch Ness then cut across to the Isle of Skye and the Western Isles before heading back to the start point.
There is, however, so much more to see in Scotland. You can visit neolithic settlements over 5,000 years old or experience Scotland's rich history of inventions at the National Museum in Edinburgh (Scots invented the bicycle, telephone, television, steam engine, penicillin and radar to name a few!).
Whisky is an important export for Scotland and you'll find hundreds of distilleries where you can get to grips with the subtle differences between all the varieties.
We thought you might have a few questions, so we put some useful information together on the regions and camping around Scotland.
A bit about Scotland
Scotland, hike up yer kilt and down with your daks, after all it’s the land of the Braves or should I say Braveheart. Before we get on with some really cool stuff to do in Scotland it is worth pointing out that wearing a kilt tends not only make the girls go wild but also tends to make you run out and invent new stuff. After all the Scots invented television, telephones, the telegraph, penicillin, pneumatic tyres and pink bath tubs, just to name a few. So be careful!
Scotland is divided into 2 parts and the division runs roughly across Loch Lomond just north of Glasgow. The North part is usually referred to as the Highlands and the lowlands are commonly referred to as the border regions. Most people start their trips in the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh, however it is just as easy to start a trip on the west side and finish on the east side and not miss anything. If you are starting on the west, just flip the intro round and everything will be sweet.
Starting in Edinburgh head up north to Perthshire. Along the way stop off at the town of Stirling to have a look at Stirling Castle. Nearby is the scene of Scotland’s most famous victory over the English at Bannockburn by Robert the Bruce and its inspiring spider in 1314. Continuing with victories over the oppressing English is the memorial to probably now the world’s most famous Scotsman (thanks to Mel Gibson) - William Wallace.
After you have had enough of Scotland’s blood thirsty battle for independence head west for another Scottish first the home of golf - St Andrews. Unfortunately trying to get a round in on the famous old course may be highly unlikely unless you book months in advance. However you can enter a ballot and if you are one of the lucky ones prepare to hand over a small fortune for the privilege. If you don’t manage a game on the old course you can still brag that you have played at St Andrews as there are 5 other courses in the St Andrews area.
Overnight in the Perth area for some fantastic clubbing action at the Ice Factory before heading out to Scone Palace for Georgian grandeur in the morning (or maybe the next day). Scone is the spiritual home of the crowning of Scottish Kings and the Stone of Scone used to reside here before being captured by the English. It now sits in the throne in Westminster Abbey much to the disgust of Scottish Nationalists.
Head north to one of the most important battle sites in Scotland to Colloden. It was here that the last major battle in the UK took place in 1646 between the Jacobites and the Supporters of the English Monarchy ending effectively the 58 year civil war.
Travel back south a little to the capital of the Highlands, Inverness for a spot of Nessie watching on Lochness. Although a bit of a drive it is well worth heading up through the Scottish Highlands to John’ O Groats, Britain’s most north easterly point. The drive takes you through vast areas of barren glen and mountain areas left without trees due to the Highland Clearances in the 17th Century. From John’ O Groats either head back down to Lochness or head southwest to the town of Ullapool.
Ullapool is becoming more and more known for its Loopallu music festival which is held each year in September. Strumming guitars and listening to music can of course be very therapeutic for one's soul but if you’re after more manly and womanly pursuits like Caber Tossing and Highland Dancing of course no visit to the Scottish Highlands would be complete without a spot of caber tossing and highland dancing at the Highland Games. The Highland Games in Ullapolool have more of a local feel about them so if you're around in July stop in and join in the fun.
Continue on past the western coast along deserted beaches and wicked vistas of County Ross before ending up in the 4th Best Island in the World – The Isle of Skye according to National Geographic Readers. Although you may feel the readers may be a bit nerdy they are dead right - The Isle of Skye is amazing. Rugged Countryside, rushing rivers and ever changing moorland make up the Isle.
In summer hire a sea kayak, or walk and soak up the majesty of unspoilt glens. Although in winter it may be just a touch chilly (this is where a Spaceship really comes in to its own), check out the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis. Words cannot really do this freak of nature justice. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity not to be missed. Just don’t forget to pick up a wee dram of something to keep you warm!
You have been surrounded by superb fresh seafood for some time now. So if you haven’t tried Scottish Salmon, Prawns, Oysters, Cockles or Cod now is the time to do so as next stop going south is Fort William before heading inland via Ben Nevis to Loch Lomond.
Talking about foodie type things, Scotland is very unique in its culinary diversity. Forget for just a moment about the fresh seafood, Scotland’s mouth watering national dish - Haggis. There are 2 other things that are more important to the average Scotsman. Whisky and the Deep Fat Fryer. Now whisky is sort of self explanatory but the deep fat fryer is not. So here goes.
In Scotland if any food type can be dipped in batter and deep fried then a Scotsman will have done it. Not content with fish and chips and the odd bit of haggis thrown in for good measure. Scotland has deep frying food down to an art form: deep fried Mars Bars, deep fried ice cream, deep fried pizza, deep fried pies. You name it they will fry it. Travel Tip: Make sure your cardiologist is on standby before indulging.
Heading south from the Isle of Skye head for a touch of hill walking at Britain’s highest mountain Ben Nevis which is near Fort William. For experienced hill walkers the ascent of Ben Nevis is a must. Be careful though as the weather changes dramatically and the summit is often covered in fog.
Further south is Glen Coe. Often considered to be one of the most spectacular places in Scotland. The main town of Glen Coe was the scene of probably the biggest abuses of hospitality in history, when the Campbell Clan massacred the McDonald’s while they were sleeping after partying all night with them. All in the name of another good royal cause.
Next up is Loch Lomond of “You take the high road and I’ll take the low road” fame. The drive along the western shores through to Tabert is stunning. There are several places to overnight along the shore so make sure you take advantage of them.
Leaving Loch Lomond travelling south you will be heading for the lively city of Glasgow. Glasgow is not just another city, it is a city in constant change. Glasgow had been through its fair share of highs and lows. At one stage one of the biggest maritime industrial ports in the world, sadly since the beginning of World War II it has been in decline.
The Clyde river on which Glasgow is situated used to be the ship building capital of the world. Sadly, with the advent of cheap labour and a failure of companies to adapt to modern technology and working practices the ship building industry is now almost extinct.
It takes a lot more than a few business closures to keep Glaswegians or ‘weegies’ as their Edinburgh cousins call them down. Glaswegians are a lively bunch and love their pubs, whisky, football and live music. Glasgow is famous for Billy Connolly, Celtic and Rangers Football Clubs, the arts and the best Italian food outside of Italy.
Most people now head south straight to the English Lake district. But if you have a bit of time it is well worth spending a few hours meandering through the Borders region of Scotland. Lovely rolling countryside where there are few tourists in the summer months are the norm. Check out the coast and the roads through the Forest of Galloway before heading east through the border towns of Moffat, Kelso and Berwick on Tweed ending back up in Edinburgh.