Guest: Sherrie Hansen - Kilts, Castles, and Hairy Coo

Twenty-four years ago, Sherrie Hansen rescued a dilapidated Victorian house from the bulldozer’s grips and turned it into a B&B and tea house, the Blue Belle Inn. Sherrie and her husband, Mark, who is a pastor, divide their time between two different houses, 85 miles apart. Sherrie writes murder mysteries and novels whenever she’s not working at her B&B or trying to be a good pastor’s wife. Her contemporary romantic suspense novels include Night and Day, Love Notes, and Thistle Down, Wild Rose, Blue Belle, Shy Violet and Sweet William, her Wildflowers of Scotland novels.

Kilts, Castles, and Hairy Coo by Sherrie Hansen

On our recent trip to Scotland, my husband and I laughed about the various touring signs we saw for Castle Trails, Whiskey Trails, Victorian Heritage Trails, Coastal Paths, and even an Art and Eats Trail (which suited us perfectly) along Loch Carrann and the Isle of Skye.

Although we never spotted an official Wildflowers of Scotland Trail, they dotted the hills and valleys in abundance while we were traveling.

Although the wildflowers made everything we saw more beautiful…

If I could choose a personalized designation for our trip, it would have to be the Kilts, Castle and Coo Trail. A close second would be the Walled Gardens, Pretty Little Lambs and Millionaire Bars Tour (envision a trail of chocolate, caramel and shortbread crumbs winding through flowery secret gardens pathways and laburnum and wisteria arches with a trail of baby lambs frolicking behind). You’ve got the general idea.

Our first stop was on the Isle of Arran, where we saw Brodick Castle. The locals call Arran “Scotland in Miniature” and claim you can see it all on their tiny but enchanting island. Although we missed seeing Tobermory and my favorite place in all of Scotland, the Isle of Mull, where my book, Blue Belle, is set, it was fun to start our trip by exploring a new island.  

After a quick stop at St. Conan’s Kirk, on Loch Awe, where Wild Rose is set, we moved on to Perthshire for the Atholl Highlander’s Parade and Highland Games at Blair Castle, where we saw castles and kilts galore. Be still my heart!

We enjoyed sweeping views of the sea from Dunnottar Castle.

The walled garden of Drum Castle captured our imaginations for hours.

We found the forests of Aberdeenshire so rich with castles that we barely knew where to begin.

We reveled in the bluebell and rhododendron lined pathways in the walled gardens at Castle Fraser and Leith Hall before climbing round and round on hundreds of tiny, uneven stairs to the very top of Craiglevar Castle’s lookout tower.

A spooky legend about a fall from a fourth floor window has already found its way into my next book.

 We toured Fyvie Castle where the ghost of The Green Lady and an ancient curse helped to cement my new plotline.   

As we headed north to the seaside towns of Crovie and Banff, we stopped at Brodie Castle, and toured Cawdor Castle’s magnificent gardens and laburnum arches.


We met up with a Scottish friend in a small village by the sea north of Inverness before we headed south toward Loch Carran for the last, most beautiful part of our journey.   

My love affair with Eilean Donan Castle, the setting of Shy Violet and parts of Sweet William, was only intensified by our second visit.

Eilean Donan

Dunvegan, on the Isle of Skye, was the last castle on our list. 

As it turned out, we were so enamored of Skye’s fairy glen and pools, little lambs and hairy coos, lighthouses, coral beaches, and magnificent views that we never even got around to visiting the castle.  

People have been asking me for years why I started writing books set in Scotland. Although my new release, Sweet William, journeys across the pond from Scotland to my home state of Minnesota (with cows being the unifying factor), I think the castles and kilts in the photos of our journey very eloquently explain why I love books set in Scotland.

If you haven’t caught the fever yet, I hope you’ll come on the Wildflowers of Scotland tour with me and experience Scotland through the eyes of Ian and Rose, Michael and Isabelle, Nathan and Violet, and William and Lyndsie.

I think you’ll agree that there’s no better backdrop for a book, and no place in the world more beautiful.    

Sherrie’s new release is Sweet William.

He’s a real sweetheart. She’s a wee bit tart. When Minnesota farm boy, William McKnight, and sassy Scot, Lyndsie Morris, are forced to work together in the kitchen of Rabbit Hill Lodge, the atmosphere is as charged as an episode of Chopped. Will someone get cut, or will they find a recipe that works? Things just start to get spicy when an angry bull butts his way into the picture, and Lyndsie has to decide if she loves William more than everyone and everything she holds dear.

You can see what Sherrie’s up to at: 


Mary Gillgannon said...

Your photos are spectacular. Simply wonderful. You have another talent besides writing. Your series sounds lovely. On my list, which as you can probably understand, grows ever longer.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Mary. I take that as high praise coming from you - I also enjoyed your beautiful photos of Ireland and Wales last month. I've been to Wales, but never to Ireland, and hope to one day soon. I hope you will read the Wildflowers of Scotland novels one day! Thanks again for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

Thanks again for hosting me, Vonda! I appreciate it!

Vonda Sinclair said...

Thank you for being our guest, Sherrie, and for sharing your stunningly beautiful photos! So glad you had a wonderful trip!