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December 21, 2016

Live From The Field

Melrose Abbey in the Scottish Borders.  

Founded in 1136, this Cistercian Abbey was repeatedly attacked by English forces during the Middle Ages. The ruins we see today date mainly from the late 14th century when the Abbey had to be rebuilt following a devastating attack by the English army of Richard II.  The Abbey contains some of the finest surviving examples of medieval sculpture in Britain.

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May 12, 2016

Blue Badge for Highland Trails!

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Great news just in!  Jill McKean, of Scottish Highland Trails, has passed her exams with flying colours and is now a fully accredited “Blue Badge” guide and member of the Scottish Tourist Guides Association (STGA), qualified to guide all over Scotland in both English and French.  The Blue Badge course lasts 18 months and covers a wide variety of topics including Scottish history, geology, architecture, literature, art, language and much more…. as well as professional guiding skills.  You can find out more about the STGA here.

Jill is particularly passionate about Scottish history, including clan history and the history of the early church and pilgrimage, and whisky!  So if you would like to discover more about Scotland on a guided tour, or explore some of our fantastic distilleries, drop us a line today to find out more about our guided tour services.

Jill McKean, Blue Badge Guide for Scotland

Jill McKean, Blue Badge Guide for Scotland

 

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October 8, 2015

It’s National Poetry Day

It’s National Poetry Day!  Mention Scottish poets and everyone automatically thinks of Robert Burns, the 18th century “ploughman poet” from rural Ayrshire who wrote so many well loved poems and songs, including of course Tam o’Shanter and Auld Lang Syne.  But there has been a flourishing and active poetry scene in Scotland for centuries.  More recent exponents include such twentieth century greats as George Mackay Brown and Hugh Macdiarmid to contemporary poets such as Robert Crawford, Carol Ann Duffy and Liz Lochhead.

Here’s one of our contemporary favourites from Kathleen Jamie.  This poem is carved into the oak rotunda which surrounds the Battle of Bannockburn monument in Stirling, said to be the spot where King Robert the Bruce planted his standard ahead of the battle in 1314.   Bannockburn was a defining moment in Scottish history and was an important victory for the Scots in the Wars of Independence against England.

Here Lies Our Land

by Kathleen Jamie

Here lies our land: every airt 
Beneath swift clouds, glad glints of sun,
Belonging to none but itself.

We are mere transients, who sing 
Its westlin’ winds and fernie braes, 
Northern lights and siller tides,

Small folk playing our part. 
‘Come all ye’, the country says,
You win me, who take me most to heart.
King Robert the Bruce

King Robert the Bruce statue, Bannockburn

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October 7, 2015

Edinburgh’s New Year celebrations

Great news for locals and visitors alike – for the first time in 16 years Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations will officially include the Royal Mile!  Two stages are to be set up close to St Giles Cathedral to host the “Old Town Ceilidh”- these events will be ticketed just like the huge street party on Princes Street where the headline band for this year is Scots outfit Biffy Clyro.  Edinburgh’s three day New Year festival is expected to generate over £40m for the city – that’s a lot of people drinking a lot of beer!

Edinburgh fireworks

Edinburgh fireworks

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August 19, 2015

Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh

Gorgeous blue skies in Edinburgh this week!  The 16th century tower of Holyrood Palace (on the left of the photo) was built by King James V in the 16th century; the rest of the palace was mainly constructed in the late 1600s by King Charles II.  It is now the official residence of the Queen in Scotland.  You can visit the palace to see the state rooms used by the present queen, and also the rooms in the tower occupied by Mary, Queen of Scots in the 1500s.

Mary’s private secretary David Rizzio was murdered here in 1566 by her husband Lord Darnley.  Mary was seven months pregnant at the time and it is said Darnley was jealous of Rizzio’s close friendship with the queen – he may even have suspected Rizzio was the real father of the unborn baby.  Rizzio was dragged out of the turret room where he was dining with the queen and her ladies and waiting, and stabbed 56 times by Darnley and his friends.  It is said his bloodstains still mark the floor…

Holyrood 1

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April 8, 2015

Italian Chapel Frescoes to be Restored

Fantastic to see the beautiful frescoes in this wee chapel are being restored. Around 500 Italian prisoners of war were brought to the Orkney Islands in the far north of Scotland in 1942 to work on the Churchill Barriers, a series of causeways which link the islands and were intended as barriers against German U-boats. There was no Catholic chapel in the POW camp, so eventually the men were given permission to build one themselves. The chapel is made out of 2 Nissan huts joined together, the façade is concrete and the superb frescoes inside were painted by one of the POWs, Domenico Chiocchetti. Today this little chapel is the only reminder of Camp 60 and in our opinion a “must see” on any Orkney tour.

Orkney chapel

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September 8, 2014

Blue Badge for Scottish Highland Trails

Our very own Jill McKean, as well as being chief cook and bottle washer at Scottish Highland Trails, has recently embarked on an 18 month course to become a professionally accredited tourist guide for Scotland.  This will involve studying everything and anything about Scotland, from geology and landscape to history, architecture and the arts – it’ll be hard work but well worth doing in order to provide our visitors with the best possible guided tour experience.  At the end of the 18 months and hopefully after successfully passing her exams, Jill will be the proud owner of the coveted “blue badge”, qualified to guide in both the English language and also French all over Scotland, and a full member of the Scottish Tourist Guides Association.  We wish her all the very best with her studies!

The Blue Badge - Jill wants one of these!

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August 13, 2014

“River of Fire” for Forth Road Bridge’s 50th birthday

Plans have been announced for a huge party to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Forth Road Bridge.

On Saturday 13 September 2014 thousands of participants will walk across the bridge bearing flaming torches to create a kilometre long “river of fire”.  This will be followed by a huge bridge party in the village of South Queensferry with music from Big Country and Bwani Junction and also the “Forth Fling”, an outdoor ceilidh.

The grand finale will take place at precisely 10.06pm (in honour of the bridge’s 1006m span) with a fireworks display.

Sounds like a great way to celebrate a 50th!  Tickets for the procession and the party go on sale this Friday, 15th August.

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May 13, 2014

Fort George to host Military Tattoo

Fort George near Inverness is to host a military tattoo from 5-7 September 2014, as part of the Year of Homecoming 2014 celebrations.  The event will be the biggest of its kind after the Edinburgh Royal Military Tattoo which is held each year in August at Edinburgh Castle.  

Fort George, a working barracks built in the aftermath of the Jacobite Rebellion in the 1700s, sits on the shores of the Moray Firth at Ardesier to the east of Inverness.  It is the only property in the care of Historic Scotland which still serves its original purpose as it is still used by the British Army.  You can also find the regimental museum of the Highlanders (Camerons & Seaforths) here.

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May 2, 2014

Last chance for Glasgow 2014

Last chance to get tickets for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games!  More than 100,000 tickets across all 17 sports will go on sale on a first come, first served basis from 10am on Monday 12th May.  Find out more here.  On your marks, get set, go!

Glasgow 2014

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