Enjoy a Scottish Vacation in Edinburgh, Skye and the Highlands

Enjoy a Scottish Vacation in Edinburgh, Skye and the Highlands

Enjoy a Scottish Vacation in Edinburgh, Skye and the Highlandsblack t shirt

If you want to enjoy a Scottish vacation in Skye and the Highlands of Scotland, you must first visit the capital city of the country: Edinburgh. Although Glasgow is the largest city in the country, in terms of both population and area, Edinburgh has the history and exudes a sense of times past in every street you walk.

A personal tour of the Royal Mile is a must for any traveler to this historic city. The Royal Mile runs from Edinburgh Castle, that overlooks the city from the top of a volcanic plug, right down the detritus left by the last ice age to Holyrood Palace, the ancient seat of Scottish kings and queens, and the one-time home of Mary, Queen of Scots.

However, there is more in the Royal Mile than just that. Underneath the current streets lies an underground town: the original town of Edinburgh, and one that is said to be haunted. The most famous Ghostbusters of the modern day have failed to prove that the spirits haunting this part of Edinburgh are figments of the imagination – in fact many have run screaming from the vaults underneath Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. None have dared to claim the hauntings to be false.

You can visit these vaults – if you are brave enough – but only under the guidance of Edinburgh’s experienced guides that know where it is safe to take you – and where you dare not visit for fear of your sanity. Edinburgh is the ghost capital of Europe, if not the world, and if it is your desire to meet them, then the choice will not be yours: it will be theirs at a time and place of their choosing. So sleep well during your Scottish vacation and do not awaken in the night!

On a lighter vein, once you have left Edinburgh you should head for Fort William, nestled under the highest mountain in Britain – Ben Nevis. Small by American standards, but high enough at 4,500 ft. One man pushed a piano up Ben Nevis right to the summit. It is said the remains are still there – the piano’s, not the man’s. You can take a gondola ride up there and enjoy the breathtaking view of the Grampian mountain range.

However, before you get there, you must stop at Loch Fyne on the way, since this loch is famous for its fish, kippers and oysters that you can taste at the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar. You will also pass Loch Lomond, the longest fresh water Loch in Scotland, and also the most beautiful. Stop in Luss, on the banks of Loch Lomond, for a pint of beer and a visit to the bagpipe and kilt shop – they will send your purchases back home for you.

When you are in Fort William, don’t miss Glencoe to the south. This was the scene of the massacre of the MacDonalds by the Campbells in 1692 – it is an eerie and dangerous place and still said to be haunted by the ghosts of the MacDonalds. The MacDonalds had acted as hosts to the Campbells that winter, feeding and entertaining them for a week, and then were slaughtered during one night on the behest of the English king. No Scottish vacation is complete without a visit to Glencoe.

Some scenes of the Harry Potter films were shot here, and you can also visit bleak Rannoch Moor close by, where many of the MacDonalds froze to death on that terrible night. There is still a feud between these two clans because of this betrayal, and the ghosts of the Macdonalds still walk the moor, waiting for any unwary Campbell to walk by. To this day no Campbell dare walk the moor or the Glen at night.

If your name is not Campbell, you can now get the ferry boat to the Hebridean island of Skye, and perhaps visit Dunvegan Castle, where the remnants of the Fairy Flag can be seen – the flag taken by the MacDonalds into every battle they fought. If you get the chance, travel round Skye and the other islands by boat and enjoy the beautiful Red Hills to the east of the island and the brooding Cuillan in the west.

You should then leave Skye over the new bridge that replaced the ferry from Kyleakin to the Kyle of Lochalsh, and head off down the Caledonian Canal route to Loch Ness. Perhaps you will be lucky enough to see the Loch Ness monster. Not many are, but I have ridden its back and it’s an enormous beast. However, I have been sworn to secrecy or I will disappear.

If you like your drink, or just a wee dram, stop off at one of the distilleries on Speyside. The Spey is the river that meets the Atlantic at Inverness, and is one of the purest rivers in Scotland. The whisky it produces is like nectar, and Glenlivet, Glen Grant and the Macallan are just three of the most famous of the 38 single malts distilled in this area. Each of them allows you to visit the distillery and taste the product. Don’t stop at them all or you will never reach your next hotel!

If you are lucky enough to get this far after the Edinburgh Vaults, Glencoe and Rannoch Moor, you will pass through the ancient Caledonian forest which is the nearest existing forest to the prehistoric carboniferous forests that produced the coal, oil and gas that we now rely upon for power. It is said that unknown creatures walk this ancient forest at night.

So that is what a Scottish vacation involves: ghosts, mountains, murder and treachery and whisky. What could be a better way to spend a week or two than that! A vacation to Skye and the highlands, with a stop in Edinburgh is the ideal vacation for anybody with a sense of adventure and a desire to prove that they are not easily frightened. Just a word of warning: if you feel you cannot be frightened then Edinburgh will prove you wrong. You will be shaking in your st louis cardinals zip up hoodie as you run screaming from the underground 17th century vaults.

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write by Alvin Lenahan

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