With over 11,000 km of coastline, hundreds of islands, majestic mountains in the Highlands, delightful canals, rivers and lochs, the sweeping valleys and heather-clad moorlands of the Borders, and a wealth of wildlife, the beauty of Scotland will take your breath away. Enjoy great walks along the shores of Loch Lomond; do some climbing in the Cairngorms, the Grampian mountains, where you will find Ben Nevis, the highest peak in Britain, or the Arrochar Alps; stroll along the pristine rivers and lochs, full of wild salmon and trout.
Scotland has a rich and colourful history. Stone circles, thought to date back 5,000 years, are scattered across Scotland's islands. The mightiest artillery fortification in Britain, Fort George northeast of Inverness, was built by the English king as the ultimate defence against further Jacobite unrest after the 1746 defeat at Culloden of Bonnie Prince Charlie. And you will find castles, abbeys and cathedrals everywhere.
Romantic Inveraray Castle on the shore of Loch Fyne in Argyll is one of Scotland's finest stately homes, while Cawdor Castle, near Nairn, is famed for its connection with Shakespeare's Macbeth, although the actual 11th-century events on which the play is based took place well before the castle was built. The Castle of Mey in Caithness belonged to the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and Glamis Castle near Forfar in Angus was her childhood home. The magnificent ruins of a motte and bailey castle dating from the 12th century, Castle Huntly in Aberdeenshire, sheltered Robert the Bruce in the 14th century. Dunvegan Castle on Skye, built on a rock in an idyllic loch setting, is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and has been the ancestral home of Chiefs of the Clan MacLeod for 800 years.
In 563 AD St Columba and his followers came from Ireland to the Isle of Iona, just off the Isle of Mull, to spread the gospel in Scotland and the north of England, and the island retains a spiritual atmosphere. The restored medieval abbey, in front of which stands the magnificent 10th-century St Martin's Cross, still holds daily services. Visiting the island is a very special experience.
With more than 4,500 listed buildings, Scotland's capital Edinburgh is world-renowned for its rich architectural heritage. Edinburgh Castle's oldest part, St Margaret's Chapel, dates from the 12th century, but building went on for centuries after that. The castle houses the Honours (i.e. Crown Jewels) of Scotland, the Stone of Destiny, the famous 15th-century gun Mons Meg and the National War Museum of Scotland. Edinburgh's New Town has imposing squares of Georgian houses and among other treasures to be found in this great city are the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen's official residence in Scotland, the National Galleries of Scotland, St Giles Cathedral, the Scott Monument and Craigmillar Castle, one of the most perfectly preserved castles in the country. The Edinburgh Fringe is the largest art festival in the world and is just one of several festivals taking place in August each year.
The birthday of Scotland's national poet Robert Burns (1759-96) , of Auld Lang Syne fame, is celebrated each year on 25 January with Burns Night and references to him can be found everywhere, while Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), whose Ivanhoe is perhaps the best-known of his many novels, is particularly connected with the Borders, where he spent much of his leisure time exploring because of his great interest in the old Border tales and ballads.
And then there are the distilleries, many of which can be visited, the galleries and museums, the abbeys, the bagpipes, the seals and dolphins ...
Aberdeenshire and Moray
Hartleap Bed and Breakfast
tel: 01750 82363
Yarrow Valley, near Selkirk TD7 5NQ
Stay in an idyllic rural setting only an hour's drive from Edinburgh. Experience peace and quiet in a 1.5 acre garden; an active break with world-class mountain biking nearby, or walking in the surrounding unspoilt Border hills. Enjoy a delicious dinner using produce from the garden and then relax by a log fire! Comfort and style create a luxurious retreat with just one double room for guests.
Damascus Drum Café & Bookshop, tel 07707 856123, 2 Silver Street (just behind Heart of Hawick Cinema/Theatre), Hawick TD9 0AD.
Award-winning Café and Bookshop – Delicious Mediterranean dishes, salads, vegi-burgers, chillies, filled bagels and paninis; large choice of home-made cakes. www.damascusdrum.co.uk, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dumfries & Galloway
Winter Cherry B&B
46 Pilrig Street, Edinburgh EH6 5AL
You will be given a key to your room on arrival, so that you can come and go as you please. Continental breakfast is served in the kitchen overlooking the back garden and if the weather has been kind, and the season is right, this may include greengages, apples, pears and blackberries from our garden. It will always include delicious artisan bread from Herbies, a renowned Edinburgh delicatessen, a freshly made smoothie, organic home-made Bircher muesli, yoghurt, fruit juices, Scottish cheeses, oatcakes and a selection of cereals and jams, as well as tea and coffee. Please check our website for details and to book.
tel: 0131 229 5932
88 Lothian Road, Edinburgh EH3 9BZ
Serving traditional and International food from light snacks and breakfast to full meals, including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options, in a relaxed and comfortable environment. Facebook: @FilmhouseCafeBar
tel: 0131 557 1606
67 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AU
Holyrood is a combination of all that Hendersons has to offer, with a fast take-away service including grab and go wraps, sandwiches, salad boxes, cakes and puddings. Facebook: @hendersonsholyrood, email: email@example.com, website: www.hendersonsofedinburgh.co.uk, Instagram: @hendersonsofedi.
tel: 0131 225 2605
25 Thistle Street, Edinburgh EH2 1DX
We are happy that vegans can be at home here and know that everything we serve is 100% vegan including all of our wines, beers, delicious cakes and Fair Trade coffees but we are not exclusive. Our food packs a tasty punch and if you are simply looking for a great place to eat in a lovely environment, this is the place. Open seven days from noon. Book a table at Quandoo, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.hendersonsofedinburgh.co.uk, Facebook: @hendersonsvegan, Instagram: @hendersonsvegan.
Hendersons Salad Table Restaurant
tel: 0131 225 2131
94 Hanover Street, Edinburgh EH2 1DR
Freshly delivered organic vegetables, fruit, pulses and grains are peeled, soaked, steamed and sautéed to create over a dozen fresh salads, hot dishes and desserts, ready for our busy day that begins at 8.30am every morning til late (10.30am-4pm on Sundays). Book a table at Quandoo, email: email@example.com, website: www.hendersonsofedinburgh.co.uk, Instagram: @hendersonsofedi.
Hendersons Shop & Deli
tel: 0131 225 6694
92 Hanover Street, Edinburgh EH2 1DR
The Shop & Deli offers a large range of Henderson's classic dishes to sit in or take away, whilst also showcasing the best organic produce we can find. Perfectly situated on the corner of Hanover and Thistle Street, the Shop & Deli is the ideal destination to pop into when you are enjoying the centre of Scotland's capital city. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.hendersonsofedinburgh.co.uk, Instagram: @hendersonsofedi.
Glasgow and Central Scotland
14 Farrow Drive, Corpach, Fort William, Inverness-shire, Highland PH33 7JW
Nevis View offers a convenient base for touring the West Highlands. You'll find a warm welcome here with comfortable accommodation (single room and small family room which can accommodate three or be used as a double or twin). Both rooms have colour TV, clock radio and hospitality tray. The shower room is shared. Evening meals and packed lunches can be provided but require 48 hours' notice. Meat, vegan and vegetarian diets catered for.
tel: 01854 612955
Rhue, Ullapool, Ross-shire IV26 2TJ
Enjoy a warm, homely welcome at Suilven B&B: vegetarian, vegan and special diets; home-made, local, Fairtrade, organic products in a self-built, environmentally friendly, zero CO2 house with spectacular views over Loch Broom.
We offer guided mountain walking and low level walking holidays and run courses in basic navigation.
Western Isles, Mull & Skye
The Old Croft House Vegetarian B&B
tel: 01470 532375
6 Carbost, Skeabost Bridge, by Portree, Isle of Skye IV51 9PD
Come for a relaxing stay in our beautiful 19th-century croft house. We aim to provide a B&B experience that is a bit special, with stunning views, breakfasts that are truly indulgent and great hosts, who will really look after you.
Alternatively, tuck yourself away in our cosy cabin, sleeps 2. Just 4 miles away from the Island Capital, with its restaurants and bars, but remote enough to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of Skye. Created with Love, there is all you need for a get-away. We provide a breakfast pack for your first night, which includes fresh coffee, milk, juice, eggs from our hens, butter and homemade bread. You will find a microwave, toaster and kettle to make light meals throughout your stay.