Almost everywhere you stop and look in Scotland, you'll find an awe-inspiring view. But here are 10 of my favorites.
Eilean Donan Castle is surrounded by three lochs--Loch Duich, Loch Alsh and Loch Long. It is easy to see whether the tide is in or out, depending on the level of the water under the bridge. The castle is most beautiful and picturesque when the tide is in and the castle reflects in the water. There is evidence that the island has been inhabited at least since the Iron Age. A castle was probably first built here in the early 1200s to defend the surrounding areas from Viking invasions. The fearsome Norse had raided, settled in and controlled a large portion of the north of Scotland and the Isles between the years 800 and 1266.
Dunnottar Castle is one of my absolute favorite ruins. It's located in an incredibly dramatic location on a cliff that juts out into the North Sea, about two miles from Stonehaven. The castle and the area around it were used from Pictish times, before recorded history. It was first mentioned in 681, in the Annals of Ulster, because of a battle which took place here. It is believed the Picts revered the site and considered it sacred.
Ring of Brodgar on Isle of Orkney in Scotland is a wonderful standing stone circle. This area is called the "Heart of Neolithic Orkney" and has been designated a World Heritage Site. This ring of stones is thought to date back to around 2500 BC to 2000 BC. It is a true circle with a diameter of 340 feet and originally contained 60 megaliths. Only 27 of these remain standing today. They vary in height from 7 feet to just over 15 feet. They are believed to have been important in the people's religion, ceremonies and relate to astrological alignments, such as the setting sun at Winter Solstice, much like Stonehenge.
Glencoe is the site of the infamous MacDonald massacre in the late 1600s. The whole glen is breathtakingly beautiful. The haunting atmosphere from the tragedy which took place here is obvious and easily felt. The glen and mountains are vibrant, brilliant green in late spring and early summer, my favorite time to visit. There are some wonderful walking trails through nature.
Neist Point Lighthouse is located on the most westerly tip of Isle of Skye at Durinish, near Glendale. The view out over the sea and the Outer Hebrides is amazing, especially at sunset. The lighthouse was built in 1900 when it was a manned lighthouse. Since then the internal light system has be updated to an automated system that no longer requires daily maintenance. The light is 43 meters above sea level and can be seen up to 16 nautical miles offshore. A very long set of steps and a path lead out to the lighthouse. The walk is 2.2 km or 1.37 miles. I love this view so much I put it on the cover of my calendar for this year.
Castle Stalker (Caisteal an Stalcaire) sits in one of the most dramatic and beautiful settings in Scotland, on a small island (or islet) known as Cormant's Rock in Loch Laich, just off Loch Linnhe in Port Appin, Argyll, Scotland. If you're traveling there, it's midway between Oban and Glen Coe. Stalcaire or Stalker means hunter or falconer. Even today in Scotland, deer hunting is called deer stalking. Castle Stalker as seen today is original from the 1400s. But before Castle Stalker, the MacDougall Clan, Lords of Lorn, held a small fort on the islet, which is great for defense, in the early 1300s. The MacDougalls lost this title because they were defeated by King Robert the Bruce at the Battle of the Pass of Brander in 1308. They regained the title and lands after 1328 and held it until around 1388 when the Lordship of Lorn passed to the Stewarts along with the site where Castle Stalker sits. Most sources state that Castle Stalker as seen today was built by Sir John Stewart, Lord of Lorn, in the 1440s. The castle was built by expert stone masons who constructed parts of the walls nine feet thick.
Callanish Standing Stones on Isle of Lewis. This site is beautiful, atmospheric and mystical just as I'd imagined from all the photos I'd seen of it over the years. Carbon dating has shown that Callanish is older than Stonehenge. These megaliths were erected between 2900 and 2600 BC. It is believed that people lived here as far back as 3000 BC.
Sango Bay, Durness. The first time I saw the beach at Sango Bay, I absolutely fell in love with it. This is on the north coast of Scotland, looking out over the North Sea. The weather here is often tempestuous and cold with lots of wind. The landscape is rough and rugged. I love the wild, untamed feeling, the scenic beauty and the solitude.
Sunrise over the North Sea as seen from Stonehaven. I treasure the bright, vivid colors of any sunrise or sunset. Every morning in Stonehaven, we woke up to a brilliant sunrise out our window. The town is wonderful, friendly and charming. Dunnottar Castle is closeby, within walking distance if you don't mind a two plus mile hike.
I hope you've enjoyed seeing my favorite, most awe-inspiring views in Scotland. If you were in Scotland, which place would you choose to visit first?
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