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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Glimpses of Scotland

by Nicole North

I'm thrilled to join the fabulous group of writers on this blog. For my first post here I wanted to talk about one of my favorite places (and favorite topics!)--Scotland.

Very few places capture the imagination the way Scotland does. It has a reputation of misty isles, myth and magic. Before my visit, I thought maybe all this was overblown and exaggerated. Not so. Scotland lived up to its reputation and then some. I had not expected to feel the magic and history as I did. What surprised me most was how breathtakingly beautiful the landscapes are. Pictures cannot truly capture the essence of it. Some of the places I found to be most fascinating and beautiful:

Culloden Battlefield

I didn't know what to expect at Culloden. I'd seen pictures of this site but hadn't researched it, so I went into it with an open mind. It was easy to feel the history surrounding me, the sadness. It was not gloomy, however. The landscape is flat moorland with incredible vistas to the mountains in the distance. The ground where so many Scots had fallen during the battle and been buried was peat bog. Many wildflowers bloomed among the little pools of water. I tried to imagine what it would be like to fight a battle here. Very difficult, I'm sure!

Orkney has a lot of fascinating Norse influences like St. Magnus Cathedral, which the builders began in 1137. Walking through a structure that is almost a thousand years old, containing the tombs of saints and many others was unreal.
I'm also fascinated with prehistory so it was a wonderful treat to visit such Neolithic sites as Skara Brae and Ring o' Brodgar.
Here is a cool video I found showing some sights on Orkney.

North Coast - another amazingly beautiful area of Scotland is Sutherland along the northern coast. Kyle of Tongue and Sango Bay at Durness, especially. The views are breathtaking and the area remote and mostly wild. Not very populated. When I return, I want to spend lots more time in this area (which stole my heart!)
Isle of Skye - the misty isle. To many, the Isle of Skye is the epitome of what Scotland, especially the Highlands, is all about. Surely fairies and magic exist here. When I sat in the hotel dining room at Broadford, looking out over the ocean (The Inner Sound) at the misty forms of land in the distance, I had a Wow moment. How could I be doing something so mundane as eating breakfast and looking at such a breathtaking view? I was stunned for a moment and knew I would remember that moment for a very long time.

I found this neat video showing many of the beautiful places on Skye...

Where is your favorite place in Scotland? Whether you have been there or not, which area do you feel is most beautiful?

I'm having a contest on my website during May and it's easy to enter: http://www.nicolenorth.com/

Nicole North
Devil in a Kilt, Red Sage Secrets Vol. 27 Untamed Pleasures 7/09


Eliza Knight said...

I haven't been yet, but I think the whole place is beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

Nicole North said...

I hope you get to go soon, Eliza! And you're right, the whole place is beautiful!

Carly Carson said...

Hi Nicole,

Culloden battlefield is the most evocative place I've ever been. I thought it was a very sad place and the ghosts of the fallen warriors were all around. I'm not normally a believer in ghosts.

Like you said, Scotland is actually more beautiful even than one expects.


Nicole North said...

I agree with you about Culloden being evocative. Really a stunning place that grabs your attention. Thanks for dropping by.

Lexi said...

Oh, your pictures are BEAUTIFUL! Of course, I'm like you and love ALL of Scotland, but my absolute favorite place is Glenfinnan and Loch Shiel. Stunning, relaxing, magical. {{{sigh}}} I want to go back!

Virginia said...

What beautiful photos. I have always wanted to go to Scotland! This has always been a dream of mine!

Jody said...

I have been to Scotland three times in the past 15 years and am currently planning a trip to Scotland next summer. Each time i go I find new and different places that opens my eyes to not only the beauty of the natural geography but also to the history.

Now I agree the Highlands have a certain wildness to them and a sence of times gone by, but my favorite place in Scotland is the Borders region. The scenery is varied with high crags, locks and hills with thousands of glens where the Reivers hid their stolen cattle as well as rolling hills with gentle burns. It has a unique history found no where else in Scotland. There is a great DVD put out by the Borders TV with Alistair Moffat and Eric Robson. They walk the Borderline from the Solway firth in the West to the North Sea at Berwick on the East. A great combination of history and scenery.

But my all time favorite place is Rosslyn Chapel in midlothian about 20 minutes south of Edinburgh. i have been going there way before all the Da Vinci Code hype and it is the most remarkable place. Everytime I go I find something new and the atmospere is so unique, much different than the typical chapels and cathedrals in the Uk. Oddly the first time we went my husband had such a severe reaction to the place he won't go in it again. A definite must see if one is into the history of the Knights Templar in Scotland at the time of the Scottish Independence.

Nicole North said...

Thanks Lexi! I must go to Glenfinnan one day! It sound like a terrific place!

Virginia, thanks! You should definitely go to Scotland if it is something you've wanted to do. It's an awe-inspiring place.

Jody, how fantastic to have been to Scotland so many times. I would also like to visit the Borders region next time. I have a pretty good idea (no proof) that some of my ancestors of the 1600s may be from that region. I'd love to go inside Rosslyn Chapel also! Thanks for posting!

Leigh Court said...

I love Scotland. As you said, it's truly a magical place! I agree with Carly (and you) that Culloden was very sad and eerie. I could feel the ghosts of fallen Scotsmen as well.

I love Edinburgh for its beautiful buildings (the castle and Holyrood House) and its incredible history.

I also love the Isle of Skye, where hubby & I were once chased in our car by the monarch of the glen! A sight I'll never, ever forget :)

Hubby is English/Scottish, so I live with a walking history book -- could be one of the reasons I like him so much, LOL! (He comes in handy when I write my Victorian romances, too...)


Pat McDermott said...

You are a wonderful tour guide, Nicole. I've been to Ireland more times than I can count, but I only know Scotland through reading and folk music. I plan to visit Edinburgh in August, and after seeing your pictures and reading your travel notes, I'm sure it won't be my last trip to Scotland. Thanks so much for sharing this!

Nicole North said...

Leigh, I'm with you on loving Edinburgh. How funny about being chased by the monarch! LOL I wish you would've videotaped that! Did he look like this?I only caught a very brief glimpse of a red deer while I was there. With such great inspiration like your husband, surely you will write some Scottish stories, right?? :)

Pat, thanks! I'm certain you will love Edinburgh! It's an amazing place as well for its history, castles, atmosphere, etc.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Would it be okay to say every square inch of Scotland is my favorite spot? NO? My hubby and I spent 23 days driving around the beautiful country of my ancestors. I absolutely loved it all, but if I had to choose I would have to pick two - One is Eilean Donan Castle. We found it so fun that we visited it twice. I could move into that place tomorrow. I have found that it is one of the most popular castles as far as seeing it all the time. My second is Balquhidder. It is where Rob Roy is buried. We discovered the church and graveyard one beautiful Fall afternoon and it stole my heart. I sat next to the MacGregor gravesite and imagined his life of roaming the surrounding mountainsides, sword in hand possibly and kilt possibly. At any rate, Scotland easily stole my heart - the land, the people, the food. All of it. At Culloden could you feel the ghosts? It was a gloomy, foggy day when we were there and I got chills, but don't think it was the weather that gave them to me.

Anonymous said...

Hi Nicole,
I loved your blog about Scotland, the pictures and videos. It's a blessing to be able to have visited the land of our imagaination. I have dozens of books, a lot which are coffee table size, on Scotland. So want to visit there someday and finish off my sequel to my very first historical. I'd like to rent a croft for 3 months and enhale the land, the mists, the magic of the land. I believe I lived in the Highlands in another life time, and hopefully I was the Laird's beloved daughter, not the scullery maid.
Elizabeth Clements

Chicks of Characterization said...

Nicole, your pictures are beautiful! I can't just pinpoint one place in Scotland that I love more than any other its all beautiful! I visited Culloden last month and I agree, its very sad- but not gloomy in the way you would think. (though it was so cold I almost froze to death!) But the castle's and the ruins hold a special place in my heart! I am hoping to put my pictures on my blog very soon!!!


Nicole North said...

Paisley, yes that's okay! LOL I have lots and lots of favorite spots. I couldn't even include them all in this post. Driving around 23 days would be awesome! That's what I want to do! Eilean Donan is also one of my favorite spots. Balquhidder sounds amazing. I haven't been there but would love to. I'm not very psychic so I didn't exactly feel or see the ghosts. Maybe if I'd stayed a while and sat quietly I could have. The day we were there it was partly cloudy and clearing after a rain, so the light and shadow was especially beautiful.

Elizabeth, thanks! I bet you have an amazing collection of Scotland books. You should definitely visit. Ahhh yes a croft for 3 months... now that would be just the thing!

Andrea, yes, I agree with you that I didn't feel a gloominess at Culloden. I can imagine you did almost freeze last month. Brr. I look forward to seeing more of your fantastic pictures!

Leigh Court said...

That monarch of the glen that chased us *totally* looked like that picture you linked to!!


Julie Robinson said...

Beautiful sites! I've never been to Scotland. Thank you for those inspiring pictures and videos. I'm marking this to remember it as a reference.

Nicole North said...

Leigh, I still giggle when I imagine a deer chasing you guys in a car. LOL It must have been a brave one. :)

Julie, thanks for dropping by to check out my pics!! Scotland is awesome and I hope you get to visit it one day.