Firstly it’s the official ‘Year of Food & Drink’ and this alone should make you visit Scotland. It boosts many magnificent foods from local Seafood’s to beautiful distilled Single Malt Whisky’s.
But there are many other reasons why Scotland makes the perfect destination both for City breaks, but also excursions in and around the Scottish Highlands or the remote Dumfries and Galloway and beautiful Glencoe mountain ranges.
During my first visit to Scotland, before moving to Edinburgh, we visited the north and on our first morning had the pleasure of going fishing for scallops off the Isle of Skye coast. We did so and these were then cooked on the boat, with the seals peeking their heads out every few moments to see what we were up to, at that moment I knew this was going to be my home!
My Top 5 reasons why I believe Scotland should be your destination of choice for 2015 (and of course many more years to come).
1. Landscape and Beaches; around Scotland you will find some of the most breath-taking and beautiful scenery. Often these have been included in films, like the recent James Bond Film, ‘Skyfall’ where you will see the amazing Glencoe and surrounding area. But there are many more hidden and secluded locations where you may have to hike or of course catch ferries to reach, including many of the western isles. Areas often forgotten about is Scotland’s Beaches, these may be remote and hard to find, but wow are they worth the extra journey. Many of the spectacular white sandy beaches are also found on Scotland’s north west coast. Also, what many people do not realise is that Scotland in fact does have Palm trees, really! Remember if you do chose to swim, stay safe, in particular if you do so in many of our Lochs.
Durness Beach at the top of Scotland, it’s worth the drive!
2. Edinburgh; having just been voted the top UK City to visit second year running by the Telegraph readers, this alone should make you wish to visit this beautiful and historic City and Scotland’s capital. Within Edinburgh you will also find five of the UK’s Michelin Star Restaurants, the most per person in a city in the UK outside London. This does mean that there are generally a really high expectation amongst all the different restaurants and cafes in the city. Within Edinburgh you will find many wonderful attractions, like Edinburgh Castle and the many closes, which are filled with history and many of the cities fine bars and restaurants will also be found here. These lead up the Royal Mile (the High Street), which runs from Holyrood Palace at the bottom to Edinburgh Castle at the top. Another must see when in Edinburgh is the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, just beyond Edinburgh’s New Town in the Inverleith area. There are many walks and tours (historic, ghost, literature and much more), which will give you a great insight to the city’s history. For details of the city’s events and attractions visit http://www.thisisedinburgh.com or on twitter @edinburgh
3. Whisky; this has to be one of the top reasons you visit Scotland. Even if this is not the drink of your choice, with the many hundreds of flavours from almost 100 Whisky Distilleries across Scotland, you are likely to find even that one flavour which you will enjoy! That being a flavours light on the palate like honey or flower from Speyside and the Lowlands or the other end of the scale with smoky and peaty flavours you will find on many of the western isles like Islay and Isle of Skye. Scottish Malt Whisky can be enjoyed at many occasions, should this be before or after a meal, as part of a day out as a celebration drink when completing your first Munro Hill or just a reason to say ‘Slainte’, which is commonly used in Scotland to toast a drink. Remember to enjoy, but do drink responsibly.
Laphroaig Distillery, Isle of Islay, http://www.laphroaig.com/
Master blender at the Arran Distillery, http://www.arranwhisky.com/
4. Wildlife; a couple of my favourite locations in Scotland for watching wildlife has to be either the Isle of Arran http://www.arranwildlife.co.uk/ , easily reached by ferry from Ardrossan, where we have seen lots of deer, seals, bird of pray and eagles during our past visits. The other is the Isle of Mull http://www.isle-of-mull.net/wildlife , easily reached by ferry from Oban, also fantastic for dolphins on route to the island. Both of these locations are on the west coast of Scotland. Where I over the years have seen some of the most amazing wildlife and hoping to see much more in years to come. For your chance to spot many of these birds, deer, seals and eagles make sure that you are either out at dawn or dusk when your opportunity to see them is a lot greater, but do also visit the above sights for hints and tips!
At the top of the Cairngorm Mountain, http://www.cairngormmountain.org/
5. Foods; 2015 is the ‘Year of Food & Drink’ as officially named by Visit Scotland. This is a great opportunity to get out to taste and experience the best of our local produce you will find all across Scotland. Besides the many restaurants, bars and cafes you can visit across the country, there are also a long list of events. Details of many of the events can be found at http://www.visitscotland.com/about/food-drink/ You have over recent years seen a growth in local Farmers Markets and smaller producers joining the crowds in the cities and across Scotland.
Do join us in celebrating the best of Scottish produce by trying our beautiful seafood, beef and what about the red fruits from Perthshire, along with so many more delicious products.
What is your ideal Scottish dish? Mine would have to be breakfast muffin, layered with Scottish Smoked Salmon, a slice of Stornoway Black Pudding and a fresh free range poached egg on top! Now go and enjoy!
Now, are you ready to visit? I certainly am looking forward to visiting many areas of this beautiful country in the year to come and do keep up with my travels and visit on this blog and twitter @kimkjaerside