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A Journey Through the Heart of Scotland

Written by  Christopher Cooke


scotland13The City: Edinburgh to Stirling

Edinburgh is one of the most dynamic cities that Scotland has to offer. It serves as a great point of access for those looking to embark on any sort of travel through Scotland. In addition, it is a very “walk-able” city, with a whole lot to offer those not looking to venture far from city limits. Edinburgh is a wonderful place to be able to “get your feet wet” so to speak, and start to take in, or rather be taken in, by the natural beauty and historical depth of Scotland and its captivating capital city. Dominating the city from high atop volcanic cliffs, Edinburgh Castle sits as the centerpiece of Edinburgh’s Old Town. With the most remarkable panoramic views of the city below, it is easy to see why Edinburgh Castle is Scotland’s leading tourist attraction. Also located in Old Town, just at the opposite end of the Royal Mile from Edinburgh Castle, is the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The Palace of Holyroodhouse has served as a residence for Kings and Queens of Scots since the 16th century, most notably Mary Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie. Holyroodhouse gets its name from the adjacent Holyrood Abbey, which is arguably one of the most beautifully eroded sites in Edinburgh. 

Linlithgow, just outside of Edinburgh, is home to another residence of the monarchs from the 15th and 16th centuries, and birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots. Though only the stone framework of Linlithgow Palace remains, what is left is magnificent. An abundance of ornate stonework; fireplaces, columns, and a beautiful grand fountain, all retain an unbreakable sense of identity, and tell an enchanting tale all their own. 

Stirling Castle, located in Scotland’s scenic Forth Valley, offers absolutely stunning views of the town of Stirling, the Forth Valley, and the William Wallace Memorial, all set against a picturesque backdrop of the Ochil hills. Stirling Castle was a renowned royal residence, most often used for lavish celebrations. Today the Palace at Stirling Castle is presented much in the way it would have been in 1545 upon its completion; dripping from ceiling to floor with lavish and decorative furnishings, as well as sophisticated and regal artwork. One of the most impressive features of the castle is the Great Hall. With its tall stained glass windows and an astonishingly intricate replica open timber hammerbeam roof, it is one of the absolute highlights of any visit.

The Country: Highlands

Inverness, located on the western edge of the whisky-producing Strathspey region, is the heart of the Scottish Highlands. The beauty, functional simplicity, and vastness of the Highlands are second to none and no trip to Scotland would be complete without a visit to these most iconic landscapes. Woven into the natural beauty of the Scottish countryside, there is a courageous, tragic, and enduring story. The Culloden Moors, which lay in eastern Inverness, are but one part of the heroic tale. The Battle of Culloden was in many ways the “last stand” for Scotland’s Highland Clans. During the quick and bloody battle over a thousand soldiers lost their lives, and those who did not, would live to see the unraveling and dismantling of clan society and their very way of life. The Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre offers a variety of interactive and engaging displays, including a 360-degree “battle immersion film” that brings the visitor right in the middle of the conflict. The battlefield itself has a descriptive guide and several markers that help to set the stage for a walk through the hallowed grounds. With a passionate ability to teach, engage, and bring history to life, Culloden is a must do for anyone interested in Scottish, English, or
Highland history.

One of Scotland’s largest and most beautiful ruins is Urquhart Castle, located on the banks of Loch Ness, southwest of Inverness. Urquhart, even though it stands in ruins, is one of the true gems of Scotland. Boasting breath-taking views of the surrounding Loch Ness and Great Glen, Urquhart offers a sightseeing experience like no other in Scotland. With its one-of-a-kind views of impressive scenery and its story of a once medieval stronghold turned clan castle, Urquhart Castle is one not to be missed.

When considering lodging in the Highlands, Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness and Cameron House Hotel on Loch Lomond, really set themselves apart from the rest. The Kingsmills Hotel is centrally located in Inverness a mile from the city center and the River Ness. The hotel has recently expanded and opened an adjacent spa hotel, the Kingsclub & Spa. Together with the melding of historic charm and a “personal and quietly luxurious” nature, the Kingsmills Hotel and Kingsclub & Spa offer a true oasis in the heart of the Highlands. The Cameron House Hotel, located a short ways from Glasgow on the threshold of the Western Highlands, is nothing short of magical. Nestled on the edge of Loch Lomond, amongst a natural setting so pristine, so pure, and so perfect for this beyond charming property. Cameron House beautifully complements its dramatic surroundings with its incredibly luxurious and fantastically rustic Scottish character. The reasons why Cameron House would be the ideal place to book a stay are endless; it is an incredible property with unparalleled features, service, and amenities. Cameron House Hotel stands as a true embodiment of the splendor of rural Scotland.
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