10 Most Scenic Lakes in Scotland

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10 Most Scenic Lakes in Scotland

Category : Europe , Scotland

They’re rugged, scenic and starkly beautiful. Some have legendary monsters swimming in them. And they’re everywhere. There are more than 31,000 lochs or lakes in Scotland in a variety of sizes. The lochs provide good fishing for anglers and great opportunities for hikers, not to mention an endless array of photo ops.

10. Loch Trool

Loch Trool

 

Located in Galloway Forest Park, Loch Trool is considered one of the most scenic lochs in southwestern Scotland. It’s said to be the darkest place in the United Kingdom at night. Close by is the highest peak in southern Scotland. Robert the Bruce fought the English on the shores of the loch in 1307; this battle is commemorated with Bruce’s Stone. The loch is popular with hikers, with a 9-km (5.5-mile) walk around the perimeter. The walk is strenuous, but can be done in about three hours.

9. Loch Morar

Loch Morar

 

Loch Morar, located in the Highlands, is the deepest freshwater lake in the British Isles, reaching depths of more than 300 meters (1,000 feet). One of the shortest rivers, the River Morar, in the British Isles is at the western end. The north shore is home to Swordland Lodge, which was a special ops training school during World War II. The lake also has its own monster, Morag who may be either a mermaid or a grim reaper.

8. Loch Arklet

Loch Arklet

 

Loch Arklet is a pretty, small loch located between lochs Katrine and Lomond; though the path is sometimes steep you can walk to Loch Lomond from Loch Arklet. The lake is popular with fishermen. Fishing for brown trout is permitted only from a non-gasoline powered boat since the lake is part of a public water supply. Loch Arklet is a good place to see osprey and wild goats, among other wildlife. The loch is located in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.

7. Loch Tummel

Loch Tummel

 

Loch Tummel is popular with anglers who are after lake trout. But it’s just as popular with visitors who come to enjoy the views, considered the best in Scotland. The best views of the Scottish countryside in Perthshire can be found at Queens View, made famous by Queen Victoria, though the view may have been originally named for Queen Isabel, first wife of Robert the Bruce. The loch is one of Perthshire’s most popular attractions.

6. Loch Shiel

Loch Shiel

 

Fans of Harry Potter may recognize Loch Shiel: it’s the fictional Black Lake near Hogwarts. The loch also was featured in The Highlander movies. The starkly, beautiful rugged lake is mountains at one end, bogs at the other, and is steeped in history. There’s a ruined chapel, a battlefield site where the Scots defeated the Norse in 1140, and it’s where Bonnie Prince Charlie was rowed the length of the lake so he could plant his standard at Glenfinnan in 1745.

5. Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond

 

The bonnie banks of Loch Lomond are famous for being the place where true lovers parted, never to meet again, at least according to the traditional Scottish folk song. Straddling the boundary between the Highlands and Lowlands, the 39-km (24-mile) long lake is the longest inland stretch of surface water in Britain and it home to the largest island, Inchmurrin, in the British Isles. Loch Lomond is one of Scotland’s most popular lakes with water sports enthusiasts.

4. Loch Katrine

Loch Katrine

 

Fans of Sir Walter Scott’s novels may enjoy a visit to Loch Katrine since it is the setting for The Lady of the Lake. The loch’s name is derived from a Gaelic word meaning cattle thief. Chief among them was Rob Roy MacGregor who was born at the end of the 18-km (11-mile) lake in the Highlands. The Stirling district’s Loch Katrine is a popular tourist destination, especially for day-trippin’ Glasgow residents who get their water supply from it.

3. Loch Maree

Loch Maree

 

Loch Maree, which is punctuated with five large and 60 small islands, is considered one of the most beautiful lakes in Scotland. Located in the northern Highlands, the lake also has its own legendary monster, the muc-shelich, which may be only a large eel. The Isle Maree has a chapel, graveyard, remains of a 7th century monastery, and stands of oak and holly that have been linked to the Druids. Soaking in the lake was one believed to be a cure for mental illness.

2. Loch Awe

Loch Awe

 

Famous for its trout fishing, Lake Awe is the third largest freshwater lake in Scotland. It is also the longest. The lake has several islands in it; some have remains of ancient castles on them. This includes Kilchum Castle, which is the most photographed castle in Scotland. Nearby is the village named for it, Lochawe. The Argyll district lake is the first one in the Three Lakes Challenge for relay swimmers; the other lakes are in England and Wales.

1. Loch Ness

#1 of Lakes In Scotland

 

If you’re lucky, you just might catch a glimpse of Nessie, the legendary monster said to inhabit Loch Ness. If you’re not, perhaps because of poor water visibility due to high peat content, you can always hear about sightings from Inverness residents. Loch Ness is the second deepest lake in Scotland, giving Nessie lots of places to hide. For sure, though, you can see Urquhart Castle on the western shore and lighthouses at Lochend and Fort Augustus.

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10 Most Beautiful Castles in Scotland

Category : Europe , Scotland

Scottish castles are rugged and stark. There is no fairy tale quality about them, but visitors can conjure up visions of knights in shining armor who fought the good fight for their clan and country. Scottish castles were built mostly for defense and frequently sit atop cliffs overlooking lochs and ocean, making them seemingly impregnable. These stone structures today evoke a sense of grace and peace. They are awe-inspiring, to say the least.

10. Dunnottar Castle

Dunnottar Castle

 

Dunnottar Castle has a high wow factor, sitting as it does atop a cliff overlooking the northeast coast of Scotland. This medieval fortress is now in ruins, but has a rich history connected to Scottish persona such as William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots and Charles II before he became king. It is perhaps most famous as the site where a small garrison held out for eight months against Cromwell’s army, thus saving the Scottish crown jewels. Couch potatoes may want to avoid this castle, as getting there involves a steep walk with many steps.

9. Duart Castle

Duart Castle

 

Duart Castle, located on the Isle of Mull, started out as a rectangular stone wall surrounding a courtyard. The castle passed to a Scottish chief as part of the dowry his bride brought to the marriage back in the mid 14th century. It fell into ruins over the centuries; for the last 400 years it has been considered the ancestral home of the Maclean clan. Visitors to the castle today will see a stone castle perched upon a hill overlooking the Sound of Mull. The Macleans have been restoring the castle for the last two decades, but visitors can still walk through the dungeons and admire the castle’s strategic position at the end of a peninsula.

8. Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle

 

Urquhart Castle was once considered one of Scotland’s largest castles, but today pretty much only the tower house remains of this medieval fortress. Oh, and the stunning views overlooking Loch Ness. Its history is anything but peaceful since it changed hands between England and Scotland as well as between clans. The last invaders blew it up in 1692 so it could never be used as a military stronghold again. Today its claim to fame lies in its medieval artifacts and that more people claim to have seen the Loch Ness Monster from this location than any other on the loch.

7. Balmoral Castle

Balmoral Castle

 

Balmoral Castle started out as a hunting lodge for King Robert II in the 14th century. Various royal residents have added to it over the years and now contains a wide variety of landscapes. Though the present building looks like a castle it is considered an estate in the Baronial architectural style. It is most known today as the holiday home for British royalty. The grounds and many rooms are open to the public, though some rooms are considered the queen’s private rooms. In 2014, the castle will only be open for public viewing April through July.

6. Inveraray Castle

Inveraray Castle

 

Inveraray Castle is considered a must-see on Scotland’s west coast. Home to the Dukes of Argyll for centuries; it took 43 years to build and then was partially destroyed by a fire in 1877. Castle rooms tell the story of the Campbell Clan, once the most powerful clan in Scotland. The castle has formal gardens and an extensive collection of weaponry, which parents say fascinated their children. The castle, open only between April and October, features a tea room that offers traditional Scottish fare.

5. Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

 

Stirling Castle was considered the arts center of Scotland in the 16th century, but it also was important historically and strategically as home to many of the country’s kings. Stirling Castle is huge, giving visitors many opportunities to see how Scottish royalty lived, including the royal palace and chapel where Mary Queen of Scots was crowned in 1534. The castle is also famous as the site where Robert Burns wrote many of his poems.

4. Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

 

Edinburgh Castle is a magnificent example of Scotland’s architecture, ideology, political tact and military importance. High up on the summit of a dormant volcano lurks this dominating structure. Its presence is visible for miles in every direction. Intimidating all who would challenge them, the Scottish utilized Edinburgh Castle for all of their major battles and military strategizing. A strong standing symbol of their perseverance and struggle for independence, Edinburgh Castle is one of Scotland’s top attractions.

3. Culzean Castle

Culzean Castle

 

Culzean Castle is considered one of Scotland’s most popular attractions. The castle originally belonged to the Kennedy clan, which is descended from Robert the Bruce, but it wasn’t until the late 18th century the present, stunning castle was built. After World War II, the castle’s top floor was converted for use by then-General Dwight Eisenhower in appreciation of American support during the war; these rooms are now a hotel. The castle now displays 18th century upper-class furnishings and one of the world’s largest collections of swords and pistols, all surrounded by a 600-acre park.

2. Glamis Castle

Glamis Castle

 

Glamis Castle has ties to royalty, since Queen Elizabeth II grew up here as did her mother, the Queen Mum, and Princess Margaret was born here. Located in a prehistoric village, Shakespeare’s Macbeth was once the thane of Glamis. Even earlier, the Scottish King Malcolm was murdered here. Today, it is considered one of the most beautiful castles in Scotland, set amid green trees and grass. Home to the earls of Strathmore for 600-plus years, visitors today can enjoy a walk in the formal gardens or take a guided tour of the historic rooms.

1. Eilean Donan

#1 of Castles In Scotland

 

Eilean Donan Castle was built on land that was inhabited as early as the 6th century, although the first fortified castle was built for another 700 years. The castle was partially destroyed in an uprising in early 1719, and then fell into ruins for a couple of hundred years. Now fully restored, the castle sits on an island connected to the mainland by a stone footbridge. It is named for a Celtic saint who was martyred here in 617. Located in the Highlands, Eilean Donan is considered one of the country’s most romantic castles. It has appeared in several films including Highlander and The World Is Not Enough.


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10 Top Tourist Attractions in Scotland

Category : Europe , Scotland

Scotland, a land of legends, a complex history and some of the world’s most lush scenery, calls out to the adventurous nature within us. Experience the place that inspired the epic movie “Braveheart”. Truly a place with something for everyone, Scotland is a small country that leaves a big impact on all who pass through. To help you organize your Scottish getaway, below is a list of the top tourist attractions in Scotland that should not be missed.

10. Broch of Mousa

Broch of Mousa

 

One of the most prestigious and well-preserved brochs in the Shetland Islands, this impressive structure is a rotund tower lined with stone internally and externally to provide the optimum strength as a defensive structure. The tower was built around 100 BC and is the only broch which is complete right to the top, including the original intramural stair.

9. Melrose Abbey

Melrose Abbey

 

Melrose Abbey was founded in 1136 by Cistercian monks, on the request of King David I of Scotland. This grand ruin with lavish masonic decoration is thought to hold the embalmed heart of Robert the Bruce, another king of Scotland. Truly a place of legends, Melrose Abbey is one of the most historically significant architectural structures in Scotland.

8. Cuillin Hills

Cuillin Hills

 

Located on the most northern island of Skye, the beauty of the rolling peaks of the Cuiillin Hills is undeniable. These hills are made up of two diverse formations. The Red Cuiillins are a red granite formation, which are softer and more inviting in appearance. In opposition, the Black Cuillins are more harsh in appearance with sharp, jagged peaks of volcanic rock that scale the skyline and warn off those who are unwelcome.

7. Skara Brae

Skara Brae

 

Located on the main island of Orkney, Skara Brae is one of the best preserved Stone Age villages in Europe. It was covered for hundreds of years by a sand dune until a great storm exposed the site in 1850. The stone walls are relatively well preserved because the dwellings were filled by sand almost immediately after the site was abandoned. Older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids, it has been called the “Scottish Pompeii” because of its excellent preservation.

6. Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

 

Stirling Castle is one of the most spectacular castles in all of Scotland. High up on the vertical rock mass of Castle Hill, it rests, defensively positioned along the steep surrounding cliffs. Experience the art, culture and status that encompassed 16th century in Scotland. History lovers will not want to miss this popular tourist attraction.

5. Luskentyre Beach

Luskentyre Beach

 

Luskentyre beach is situated on the spectacular west coast of South Harris in the Outer Hebrides. One of the most beautiful color-washed coastal areas of Scotland, its blue-green seas shimmer against creamy sands and the vibrant green hillside. Peaceful and timeless, Luskentyre Beach has been voted Britain’s best beach.

4. Loch Ness

Loch Ness

 

One of the most famous lakes in the world, Loch Ness is the second largest loch in Scotland after Loch Lomond (and due to its great depth it is the largest by volume). About a mile wide at most places it holds the legend of an infamous sea monster. The most notorious mythical creature of modern time, Nessie, is said to dwell in the lake. With an air of mystery, the intriguing area of Loch Ness should not be missed. You might even get a glimpse of Nessie!

3. Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis

 

Situated deep into the highlands of Scotland, Ben Nevis is the British Isle’s highest summit. Offering stunningly spectacular views and historical malice, Ben Nevis attracts viewers, hikers and climbers alike to celebrate the tranquility of the surrounding nature. The mountain is readily accessible via a man-made path which zig zags up its south westerly face, while the rock face on the north west of the mountain is strictly for experienced mountaineers only.

2. Eilean Donan

Eilean Donan

 

Eilean Donan is a small island in Loch Duich in the western Highlands of Scotland. Connected to the mainland by a footbridge, the island is dominated by a picturesque medieval castle. The original castle was built in the early 13th century as a defense against the Vikings. Today, the castle is one of the most photographed monuments in Scotland and a popular venue for weddings and film locations. It has appeared in such films as Highlander and The World Is Not Enough.

1. Edinburgh Castle

#1 of Tourist Attractions In Scotland

 

Edinburgh Castle is a magnificent example of Scotland’s architecture, ideology, political tact and military importance. High up on the summit of a dormant volcano lurks this dominating structure. Its presence is visible for miles in every direction. Intimidating all who would challenge them, the Scottish utilized Edinburgh Castle for all of their major battles and military strategizing. A strong standing symbol of their perseverance and struggle for independence, Edinburgh Castle is one of the top tourist attractions in Scotland.


  • -

10 Best Places to Visit in Scotland

Category : Europe , Scotland

At first glance, the Scottish landscape is harsh: foreboding fortresses atop hills and cliffs, the desolate moors . . . But spend some time here and you’ll quickly realize Scotland has its own unique beauty: breathtaking highlands just made for hiking and strolling, craggy coastlines, monuments that are proud reminders of long-ago battles, and blue lakes and rivers just made for fishing. Scotland is a land of legends and romance, from Robert the Bruce and Macbeth to lake monsters and the tragic Mary Queen of Scots. And, yes, real men do wear skirts here. An overview of the best places to visit in Scotland:

10. Orkney

Orkney

 

Seventy islands, including 20 that are inhabited, make up the Orkney Islands, an archipelago off the north coast of Scotland. Orkney residents pre-date the Romans by several thousand years, and once were part of Norway. It has some of the best preserved and oldest Neolithic sites in Europe. The pre-historic Ring of Brodgar, a circle of stone formations used in rituals, is a must-see. The islands are a good place to see seals and puffins, as well as a variety of local art in galleries and museums. The capital Kirkwall is the largest town in the islands.

9. Glasgow

Glasgow

 

Now the largest city in Scotland, Glasgow dates back to prehistoric times on the River Clyde. The largest seaport in Britain, it was once an important hub for shipbuilding and trade with North America. It’s a good place to visit, where you can immerse yourself in friendship, charm and music – the city hosts 130 musical events on average per week. You’ll find historic medieval buildings such as the Glasgow Cathedral and the old Antonine Wall, a shopaholic’s paradise with more than 1,500 stores to tempt your pocketbook and a variety of sporting events. Stroll the hills above the city for wonderful views.

8. St Andrews

St Andrews

 

People go to St. Andrews, a town northeast of Edinburgh, for many reasons. They go to learn: The University of St. Andrews is the third oldest in the English-speaking world. They go to play golf: St. Andrews is the home of golf and the most frequent venue in the Open Championship. They go to relax: St. Andrews is a pleasant coastal resort town. They go for history: to see St. Andrews Castle sitting on a cliff overlooking the sea and city. Or, they may go to pray: St. Andrews Cathedral was once the largest cathedral in Scotland; it’s now in ruins.

7. Inverness

Inverness

 

Britain’s most northern city, Inverness, is the gateway to the Scottish Highlands. Located at the northern end of Loch Ness, Inverness is a good place to visit in Scotland if you like to walk. Walk along the River Ness to the Ness Islands, the Caledonian Canal or the Churches Along the River. Stroll, too, through Old Town with its old stone buildings and a Victorian market where you can buy crafts. Take a walk by the 19th century Inverness Castle, but don’t expect to see the inside unless you’ve been naughty as the castle currently provides local court service in Scotland. In that case, you may want to say a prayer at the lovely Inverness Cathedral.

6. Loch Lomond and the Trossachs

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs

 

Aye, Loch Lomond is a bonnie lake. ‘Tis not wee by any means, since it’s the largest inland lake in Great Britain. The lake contains more than 30 islands, including Inchmurrin, the largest island in freshwater in the British Isles. In 2002, it was combined with Trossachs, a small woodland glen, to make the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. Scenery, including seven waterfalls, will take your breath away. Outdoor activities abound, beginning with fishing, golf and easy walks and ending with camping, bicycling and climbing. Plan to visit Inchcailloch to see ancient church ruins and burial ground.

5. Stirling

Stirling

 

The wolf is an honored animal in the central Scotland city of Stirling. According to local legend, a wolf howled when Vikings were about to invade, thus alerting villagers to the attack so they could save their homes. Stirling is a good place to see a medieval Scottish town, complete with imposing fortress, 12th century castle and church where Mary Queen of Scots’ son King James VI was crowned in 1557. The Church of the Holy Rude still conducts services on Sunday. Stirling also was the stomping grounds of the legendary Robert the Bruce.

4. Glencoe

Glencoe

 

One of Scotland’s best known glens or valleys, Glencoe is stunningly beautiful in its sometimes harshness. Located 26 km (16 miles) south of Fort William, Glencoe is nestled between hills and mountains, including the pyramid-like Buachaille Etive Mor. As you travel through this U-shaped valley, be on the lookout for the monument commemorating the 1692 Massacre at Glencoe when the Argylls ambushed the MacDonalds. Glencoe is very popular with hikers and rock climbers with trails that are accessible from the road. Glencoe is especially popular with winter climbers and skiers since it’s the ski area closest to Glasgow.

3. Hebrides

Hebrides

 

If you like Scottish Gaelic literature and music, the Hebrides Islands is just the place to indulge your passions. An archipelago off Scotland’s west coast, the Hebrides are known for this culture. It is here that George Orwell wrote 1984. The windswept islands have a quiet beauty to them. More than 50 islands, including the Isle of Skye, make up the Inner and Outer Hebrides. The islands have great beaches and you’re likely to see seals and seabirds. Pack those hiking boots because the Hebrides is all about the great outdoors.

2. Edinburgh 

Edinburgh

 

Located on the Firth of Forth, Edinburgh is Scotland’s capital and has served as the seat of Parliament since the 15th century. The city has oodles of things to see and do, and is the second most popular tourist destination after London in Great Britain. Of course, you’ll want to see its famous castle and Royal Mile, the main route through Old Town. Edinburgh is a city famous for its many festivals, including the Fringe, the world’s largest international arts festival, and the Military Tattoo. You may recognize the city as the setting for several movies, including The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and The Da Vinci Code.

1. Loch Ness

#1 of Best Places To Visit In Scotland

 

Most travelers visit Loch Ness with one thing in mind: They want to see Nessie, the legendary lady of the lake. You probably won’t see the Loch Ness Monster, but a cruise on the lake is a fun way to search. Loch Ness is quite deep, more than 230 meters (750 feet) in some places, offering plenty of hiding places for Nessie. It’s huge too, holding more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined. Take a stroll along the lake or visit quaint villages, including Drumnadrochit, home of the Loch Ness exhibition center, scattered around the lake.


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The Changing Seasons of Scotland

From its emerald green rolling hills to its treasured crumbling castles, Scotland is a photographer’s dream. Local Alistair Horne takes us on a visual journey of his homeland, and tells us why Scotland should be next on your travel list.

1. Autumn Colours

Perth-Autumn-Scotland

Autumn in Perth – Image by Alistair Horne

Fall is a glorious time to be out and about in the wild, exploring what mother nature has to offer. Scotland comes alive around October time with colours of red and yellow and this completely changes typical views into masterpieces. The Perthshire area of Scotland is one that should be seen in autumn and is a prime example of why this season is one of the best and always eagerly anticipated on these shores.

2. The Wildlife

Glencoe-Scotland

Glencoe Deer – Image by Alistair Horne

The depth and variety of animals on show in Scotland is astounding, albeit you have to be in the right place at the right time. If you are looking for deer or highland cows, take a trip to Glencoe or Mugdock Country Park respectively and you will not be disappointed! Both varieties are tame, so be careful beside them as they are more scared than you are.

Highland-Cow-Scotland

Highland Cow – Image by Alistair Horne

3. Castles and the Scottish History

Kilchurn-Castle-Sotland

Kilchurn Castle – Image by Alistair Horne

Scotland is world famous for its castles, not just because so many are in pristine condition but also because many are set against some of the most breath-taking views in Britain. With hundreds to choose from, you will be spoilt for choice to learn about the bloody Scottish history and what happened in their walls. Kilchurn Castle, first built in 1450, is a prime example of that. Overlooking Loch Awe from the top of the castle is a sight to behold and a great reminder of the tough times in the past.

4. The best driving roads

Glencoe-Road-Scotland

Glencoe Road – Image by Alistair Horne

Whether you want to explore the highlands and the rolling valleys, the craggy Atlantic coastline or dreamy islands, a drive through Scotland’s scenery is as diverse as it gets. Hours of driving can get you tired, but not when you have views and vistas like here. Glencoe, a tourist haven being only 2 hours from Glasgow is a prime example. The A82 that runs through the Glencoe valley has jaw dropping views a plenty. Give yourself a few hours to wander and explore all that is has to offer, including Glen Etive, the road used for filming in James Bond’s Skyfall.

5. The Isle of Skye

The-Quiraing-Isle-of-Skye

The Quiraing Isle of Skye – Image by Alistair Horne

In my opinion, this is the little gem of Scotland. The largest of the Inner Hebrides islands, this place typifies the beauty of our country. Dominated by the Cuillin mountain range, this is my favourite place to explore. The dramatic Quiraing picture was formed by one of Britain’s largest landslides and still moves to this day with annual road repairs needed. The view from the top after the drive is not bad, don’t you think? Not many tourists know of this spot, so when you get there, you can thank me later!

6. Famous movie scenes

Glenfinnan-Viaduct-Scotland

Glenfinnan Viaduct appears in the Harry Potter movies – Image by Alistair Horne

Scotland is brimming with scenery, architecture, roads and places used by Hollywood over the years. Pictured is the Glenfinnan Viaduct, used in four of the Harry Potter films and is a huge draw for tourists to the country. The Jacobite steam train, running from Fort William to Mallaig, which I fortunately was on last year, gives a great perspective of the Scottish west coast. The 21 arched bridge is visually stunning and is well worth a visit for any Hogwarts fanatic. You can even buy wands and glasses on board!

7. Adventure around every corner

Old-Man-of-Storr-Scotland

Old Man of Storr Adventure – Image by Alistair Horne

From the mainland to the best kept secrets on the coast, every day spent here will be worthwhile. The feeling of excitement seeing views constantly appear on the horizon will be remembered for a long time in your memory. Loch Achtriochtan and the Old Man of Storr typify adventure for me: from still mornings watching the reflection to challenging walks amongst giant pillars of ancient stone, these areas should definitely be on your list if you are an adrenaline junkie.

Loch-Achtriochtan-Scotland

Loch Achtriochtan Adventure – Image by Alistair Horne

8. Winter

Dornie-Road-Scotland

Dornie Road Winter – Image by Alistair Horne

After the bright colours of autumn, our landscape dramatically changes with the harsh white winter and cold conditions. The days are short so you need to make the most of the sunlight and experience the country in its new flesh. Wrap up well and embrace the conditions as every view completely alters, bringing a new feel about Scotland. Road-trips are even more memorable added with a touch of snow.


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