Highland Trails Blog

February 22, 2014

The Little White Rose

Rosa alba or the little white rose

Rosa alba or the little white rose

All 69 Scottish Nationalist Party members of parliament wore white roses in their lapels at the swearing in ceremony of the Scottish parliament a few years back and I was recently asked why?  The thistle is usually thought to be our national flower.  The story of why both of these flowers are connected to Scotland lies in the myths and legends of the past…

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August 6, 2013

Blackness Castle, the ship that never sailed

Yesterday was bright and breezy and saw us heading out along the Firth of Forth on Scotland’s east coast to visit the impressive Blackness Castle.  Blackness was built in the 1440s by the powerful Crichton family, and was used not as a family residence but primarily as a garrison fortress.  The castle sits on the southern shores of the Firth of Forth overlooking the coast of Fife.  Strategically placed right by the waters edge near the village of Blackness, this seaport served the Royal residence of Linlithgow in medieval times. 

Blackness Castle

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July 16, 2013

Feis Ile

Like your whisky?  Fancy hearing some trad Scottish tunes?  Then we can’t think of a better way to spend a few days than at the annual Festival of Music and Malt – the Feis Ile – on the beautiful island of Islay. The festival was founded by locals in 1986 to celebrate the culture and heritage of this magical island.  Located in the Inner Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland, Islay is home to no fewer than 8 whisky distilleries including Ardbeg and Lagavuilin.  The festival is held each year at the end of May, and runs for a week.  Each distillery has its own open day, with special tastings and events.  In addition, the music element comes from local musicians and also invited artists from the mainland.  The emphasis is on traditional Scottish music with concerts and ceilidhs, pipers, as well as kids events, Gaelic lessons, local arts & crafts, guided walks and more!  All in all Islay is a great place to visit at any time of year, but if you can make it during the Feis Ile you won’t be disappointed!  We’d be happy to out together a vacation to include the festival, plus whisky tastings, distillery tours in Islay and/or other parts of Scotland, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you fancy exploring the home of the water of life!  Slàinte 🙂 {phocamapsview=map|id=9}

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May 20, 2013

Some of the best museums & galleries in Edinburgh

There are some great museums and galleries in Edinburgh, with loads to see from Rodin’s The Kiss to Dolly the Sheep! And best of all, many of them are free 🙂

So whether you are after some culture, some ideas for somewhere to take the kids or just want somewhere interesting to pass a rainy afternoon (yes, it does rain here on the odd occasion) here are some of our favourites:

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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May 2, 2013

Bonnie Prince Charlie

Bonnie Prince Charlie is revered in Scotland as the romantic, tragic hero of “the ’45”, the failed Jacobite Uprising of 1745.  Grandson of the exiled Scottish Catholic King James II, Prince Charles Edward Stuart (to give him his proper title) was born in December 1720 in Rome. In 1745, at the age of 24, he set sail for Scotland hoping to raise enough support to restore his father, Prince James, to the throne.

Bonnie Prince Charlie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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April 9, 2013

Glencoe

We found ourselves with a tour party up in Glencoe last week, basking in the glorious spring sunshine, but with still a lot of snow around too and temperatures in single figures!  The glen is located in north west Scotland, about half an hours drive from the town of Fort William.  It is a simply stunning landscape in all weathers and often said to be one of the most spectacular areas of natural wilderness in Scotland.

Glencoe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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March 5, 2013

The Border Abbeys

This weekend we were out and about in the beautiful Scottish Borders area, visiting the Border Abbeys.  There are four magnificent (now ruined) abbeys within a short distance of each other, located at Melrose, Dryburgh, Kelso and Jedburgh.  These medieval monasteries were built during the reign of King David I, and, due to their proximity to the border with England, all suffered during the turbulent centuries of war between the Scots and the English.  All four abbeys were burned to the ground by English troops, only for them to be rebuilt and burned again.  The abbeys eventually fell out of use in the years leading up to the Protestant Reformation of 1560, which saw the decline of Catholicism in Scotland and the rise of the Protestant Church.

Scott's View near Dryburgh

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February 22, 2013

The Isle of Barra

Scotland has many beautiful islands, and it is often hard to choose exactly which ones to visit if you only have a limited time to spend here.  Most of you will no doubt have heard of the Isle of Skye, and also places like Orkney and Shetland, but did you know that Scotland has 790 offshore islands, of which 124 are inhabited?  We are often asked “what’s the best one to go to?” and I think the answer to this will really depend on your own interests and what you like doing.  For some people the idea of being on a remote, tiny, windswept island with no broadband and only a couple of sheep to share the beautiful sea view sounds like paradise, others might prefer a bit more in the way of amenities!

With this in mind I thought we would take a look at some of the lesser visited islands, starting with the Isle of Barra.

Kisimul Castle

 

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February 12, 2013

The kelpie, Scotland’s mythical water horse

It has been reported in the press today that installation of two 30m high sculptures of the kelpie, or mythical water horse, has begun in Falkirk. Designed by Glasgow based sculptor Andy Scott, these giant beasts will take pride of place in a regeneration scheme aimed at transforming an area of land situated between Falkirk and Grangemouth in the east of Scotland. 

It is an interesting choice of symbol for a regeneration project.  Traditionally, kelpies are shape shifters, water spirits capable of taking on numerous forms, but most often that of a horse.  So maybe this capacity for change is the reason behind the decision to commission the kelpies.  However, kelpies are anything but cute wee ponies!  Instead they are strong, powerful, malevolent creatures with an appetite for human flesh…

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