A Visit To Scotland: Places To Visit, Things To Do, Fun To Be Had

Posted: June 17, 2015

This summer, if a trip to Scotland is on your mind, here is an account of places to visit in Scotland and what to do there to maximise your fun!

Four days to the magical world of Scotland and the Northern Highlands left our senses elated to a whole different level of joy. Our jaws dropped as we saw the top view of the Scottish capital from the heights, for the first time. The Georgian architecture and the beautiful grey house tops looked like Lego toys neatly arranged amidst the various shades of luscious green.

Ariel View of the Scottish Capital - Ediburgh

Arial View of the Scottish Capital – Ediburgh

Roslin Village – Rosslyn Chapel

We took off from Edinburgh Airport on the Scottish roads to the historic Roslin Village – The beautiful village that hosts the intriguing, intimidating, beautiful, mysterious Rosslyn Chapel, which grabbed the world’s attention in the mid 2000’s through the very famous novel, The Da Vinci Code.

The drive to Roslin is very scenic as the roads snaked between beautiful hillocks and greeneries. Within those 45 minutes of the drive we enjoyed the perfect Scottish experience – ‘the land of four seasons in a day’ – as it rained, stormed, scorched bright and finally snowed.

The very sight of the chapel swept us off the floor with its fine carvings and meticulous designs. Heavily decorated arches, finely carved pillars, richly ornamented ceilings, mysterious crypts, green men, carvings with both Christian and Masonic interpretations leaving the world to its wild imaginations, the Magnetic line passing and much more simply left us astonished.

This chapel was built in the 1600’s by the Sinclairs for their private worship and is still maintained by the same family line. However, in a country like the UK, where anything and everything is documented, the fact that there are no documents substantiating the prime motive of this church and why it was built leaves the beholders to their imagination.

Also, though the chapel is just build with sandstone and limestone, it has survived miraculously without any significant damage from the 1600’s, despite the intense Scottish weather. The reason for this survival is suspected to be the fact that one of the earth’s magnetic lines passes through this chapel, as it passes through many other spectacular structures around the world, such as Stonehenge and the Pyramids.

The Apprentice Pillar - Roslin Chapel

The Apprentice Pillar – Roslin Chapel

The place where the magnetic line is claimed to pass is marked with a separate tile and visitors can stand on that and face the altar to feel a ‘different’ experience. (Though I stood on the line for more than 5 minutes, I didn’t feel anything different.)

The Crypt is the most intimidating and intriguing area of the chapel, and is it inaccessible. Across the ages, it is claimed to have hosted the body of Mary Magdalene, The Knight Templars artefacts, The Ark of the Covenant, alien’s space station, the Holy Grail and many more. But as always, there is no concrete truth and it’s up to us to believe, what we wanted to.

We spent around two and half hours in this chapel enjoying every bit of its architecture and mystery. We left the Chapel with more questions that we had before we entered.

Drive on the A9 – Road to Inverness

I could very well say that it is the road to the paradise; such is the beauty as we accelerated on the A9 road to Inverness. Greenish grasslands, sheep folds, mountains, wild pine forests, cedars, wild streams alternated the sideways, giving us the best ever driving experience. After an hour, the A9 road stretched further north and snaked in between the Cairngorm Mountains. This scenic mountain stretch simply took our breath away. The mountains beamed either in bright brown shades with brown grasses or glittered silver white with snow.

Inverness

Inverness is a beautiful Coastal City on the Northern shores and very intact with its Scottish culture. We took a city walk in the twilight and enjoyed the chill breeze from the River Ness that flows straight in the heart of the city. Daffodils and Daisies added the colour on the greenish grass ways. Scottish Bap Pipe Music and the Clangs of the Cathedral filled the air.

Inverness City View...

Inverness City View…

This city has Castles, Museums and some breath taking City view tops, which gives a spectacular glimpse of the Scottish world up in the north.

Chanonry Point

The drive from Inverness to Chanonry Point is yet another scenic drive as we drove through the seashore villages, Scottish churches, yellow flowers, greenish bushes and bluish skies. Chanonry Point is a beautiful narrow peninsula with the pebble beach and a lovely shore very famous for ‘Dolphins Watch’.

However, we were not lucky enough to see the dolphins, as the tide did not turn as it should have been but we did spend a couple of hours playing on the pebble beach, talking to the bird watchers and travellers and clicking lots of pictures with the beautiful northern sea at the background.

The Chanonry Point famous for Dolphin Watch...

The Chanonry Point famous for Dolphin Watch…

Loch Ness

The drive to Loch Ness is yet another scenic drive with changing weather and most of the drive was on the shores of the world’s largest lake, The Loch Ness.

We couldn’t believe that it’s a lake in the first place as it roared like a huge blue ocean. We took a ferry and enjoyed an hour cruising and listening to the commentary on the lake’s depth, length, legacy, the unique forests on its shores, the flora and fauna, and the story of the Lake Monster ‘Nessie’, the Urquhart Castle on the shore  and much more. Though we couldn’t spot Nessie, we managed to click few pictures with its statues.

The Castle on the shores of Lochness..

The Castle on the shores of Lochness..

Drive back on the A9 to Edinburgh & The Northern Sky 

Somewhere around 05:00 PM, we took off on the A9 road back to Edinburgh.

Around 08:00 PM we diverted to the nearby villages for dinner and finally managed to find a Scottish café in the fourth village, as the world in the north shuts down sharp at 08:00 PM. We enjoyed a lovely dinner and it was around 10:00 pm that we accelerated back on the A9 road back to Edinburgh and for the first time in our lives, we witnessed the sky up in the north. The zero light pollution on the roads and the crystal clear sky gave us a free entrance to the horizon that we have never known, before.

Twilight and Rainbows...

Twilight and Rainbows.

Edinburgh Castle (Day -3)

We tried our best to free our minds from the matchless surreal experience of the Northern world and prepared ourselves for the touristy activities in Edinburgh. We started our day from the Edinburgh Castle – The beautiful, big castle which consumed almost half of the day, but was worth every bit of it.

Castle of Edinburgh...

Castle of Edinburgh…

The castle’s architecture, the breath taking city views in all four directions of the beautiful Georgian City, prison museums, crown jewels, War Memorial, Queen Chambers, War Museum, 12th Century chapel, cafes, gift Shops and beautiful statues were an outstanding experience. There is an entry fee for the Castle and it’s a lovely place to visit with family and kids.

The Scottish Whiskey Experience 

The next destination –  ‘The Scottish Whiskey Experience. With my husband and I being non-drinkers and with our little 6-year-old poppet, it was an odd choice, but we enjoyed every bit of this experience. This is a paid entry as well and the tour starts with us sitting in a Barrel shaped trolley that takes us around screens showing the start to finish of the making of Scottish Whiskey. The transformation from the humble raw materials barley, yeast and water to the aromatic golden liquid with various shades and various flavours which rule the world, is something really enlightening. Post these presentations, the group (around 15 to 20 visitors) are gathered in a big room, where a whiskey glass is given to each of the visitors.

The Usher gave a beautiful presentation on the four iconic areas where the Scottish distilleries are situated and the flavour associated with each of those areas. Each visitor was offered the whiskey of their choice and my little girl was offered a soft drink of the same colour. From there, the group was ushered to a glorious room filled with hundreds and hundreds of Scottish Whiskeys, the oldest being the one manufactured in 1904.

By the end of the tour, we get to taste the Whiskey (mine was 10 years old) and the Whiskey glass is given as a souvenir. Kids get a badge instead of a Whiskey Glass.

Camera Obscura and the World of Illusions

We moved onto ‘Camera Obscura and the World of Illusions’. This is a must visit place if you are travelling with kids.

 

Camera Obscura and the world of illusions...

Camera Obscura and the world of illusions…

Neon Zones, Kaleidoscopes, Illusions, Mirror-Mirror, endless activities on illusions and the 1800 Spying using Camera Obscura will keep you occupied for more than an hour. This is paid entry as well.

Giles Cathedral

The entry is free and it is a must visit. This beautiful Gothic Cathedral, with fine architecture and beautiful carvings, glass paintings, ornamental ceilings and arches. We spent half an hour in the church and enjoyed every bit of the Scottish architecture.

 

The Beautiful Gothic Architecture...

The Beautiful Gothic Architecture…

Holyrood Park

The fourth and the final day, we started at Holyrood Park. It’s a beautiful hillock at the centre of the city, which enabled breathtaking city views and oceanic views.

The trekking experience was awesome amidst the steep and narrow rugged pathways and wild yellow flowers on the sides, with a gush of cold winds buzzing at 46 miles per hour. After the trek, we headed off to Calton hills. This is yet another hillock in the heart of the city with beautiful monuments, structures and amazing city views. The National Monument on this hill gave an artistic look.

The National Monument on the Calton hills...

The National Monument on the Calton hills…

The Nelson Monument has a 137 steps climb and provides more spectacular view of the city than all the other viewpoints.

Our final destination was the Royal Yacht Britannia. This is a spectacular exhibition of the yacht used by the royal people. This exhibition is a paid entry and enables the visitor with a handheld device, which narrates the significance of the Royal Yacht. This is a 45 minutes tour and an enjoyable place too.

We finished this tour around 05:00 PM and headed straight off to the Edinburgh airport. Finally, the four magical days came to an end, with our senses absolutely enriched. The beauty our eyes beheld, the food we savoured, the clangs and rhythms we enjoyed, the aromas that we smelled and the memories that etched themselves in our heart were simply priceless.

‘Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” – Unknown

Scotland landscape image via Shutterstock

A version of the same was first published at the author’s blog

Dreamer. Reader. Traveller. Foodie. Lover of Life. I create my world at dianajanetjoseph.wordpress.com

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