27 February 2019
Scotland being the most beautiful country in the world is up for debate. Beauty is of course, in the eyes of the beholder.
Although most beholders will tell you, that if not the most beautiful, then Scotland is right up there. Snow dusted mountains, vast cerulean lochs, deep whispering forests and castles in every nook and cranny. Scotland is rugged and wild, yet eye-wateringly pretty.
Perhaps this is why Rough Guides readers recently hopped off the fence, and voted Scotland into first place, beating the beauty of New Zealand and Canada.
Looking at the views below you’ll see why. It’s breath whistling out of you in wonder type of stuff.
Scotts’s View, Scottish Borders
Sir Walter Scott, author of the Waverly novels and The Highland Widow, was an iconic Scottish figure. Romanticised and celebrated, much like Robert Burns.
His literature and character directly influenced Scottish folklore and traditions. For example, wearing highland garb at important ceremonies (the tartan kilt and sporran).
Overlooking the River Tweed in the Scottish Borders is Sir Walter Scott’s favourite vista. Here, patchwork fields climb to the Eildon Hills, crossed by gnarled copses.
Queen’s View, Perthshire
This picture postcard view over treetops and the blue waters of Loch Tummel is said to be name after Queen Victoria. Apparently, she visited the area in 1866 and proclaimed it was her view. If it’s pretty, it must be mine.
The true Queen of Hearts…
However, some dispute that it’s named after Queen Isabella, King Robert the Bruce’s wife. Seems more fitting.
We, as the people, cannot lay claim to views. We can appreciate them though. This vision, over treetops and the waters of Loch Tummel is, undeniably, lovely.
Loch Katrine & The Trossachs, from Ben A’an
The bird’s eye is for those that sweat the climb. You may not have heard this phrase, because it’s made up. But, climb a mountain in Scotland and you won’t be disappointed.
Ben A’an is one of Scotland’s most popular mountains to summit and it’s easy to see why. The view from the top is, in truest sense, a panorama. You can literally see for miles, beyond Lock Katrine and into the forested Trossachs.
Remember to check the weather, and climb prepared.
Loch Shiel & Surrounds, Glen Finnan Viaduct
Even before the Glen Finnan Viaduct became Harry Potter’s magical mystery route to Wizarding School it was a cherished landmark.
The train line running over the viaduct is still in use by the famous West Highland Line and the Jacobite steam train (Potter’s train), so clambering on to the bridge is not advisable. Although, using the Glen Finnan Viaduct Trail you’ll be able to find many vantage points, taking in the viaduct and the wonderful Loch Shiel behind.
The Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye
Pinnacles of rock, jutting incongruously from a grassy hillside, the most well known view on the Isle of Skye.
The best way to position them against a fiery sunset is up to you. Beyond the rocks, is the watery slip of Loch Leathan, and beyond that is the island of Rassay. Of a clear evening, there isn’t a finer place to be than with the Old Man of Storr.
Calton Hill, Edinburgh
Picking out the best viewpoint in Scotland’s magnificent capital is hard work. It depends what you want to see. For most, a quintessential Edinburgh scene must include the castle.
With this in mind, Calton hill is a contender, and it’s easily accessible from the heart of the city centre. At the top, there is homage to an Athenian acropolis, which gives the unfurling cityscape the feeling of being part of a Greek mythos.
Wearing a toga for your voyage is not recommended, unless you enjoy the cold getting in places it really shouldn’t. Unless it’s summer, in which case the Scottish penchant for eccentricity abides. Bonhomie.
The Stacks of Duncasby, Caithness
You may have heard of John o’ Groats, but not Duncasby Head. It’s the most northeasterly part of the British mainland, which encapsulates John o’ Groats.
What makes Duncasby Head special, beyond its location, is its colossal stacks. These rock formations rise like canines of the ocean, jagged, and with bloodthirsty points. Some of the grandest stacks in the UK. The tallest of which is over 60 metres from the water line.
If ever there was a photo opportunity, this is it.
Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven
An ancient castle, astride a rocky outcrop, facing the blue limits of the North Sea.
Dunnottar Castle is one of the most photographed in Scotland. But of course. It’s castles like this one that we find in fantasy literature, films and art. When we come across the real thing, we must pinch ourselves.
It can be easy to forget that all art, imitates reality to a certain extent. In Dunnottar Castle’s case, it feels like it was cut straight from pages of Tolkien.
Ben Nevis, Near Fort William
If an awe-inspiring view is to be found anywhere, the summit of Scotland, and the UK’s tallest mountain is it.
Ben Nevis barely needs an introduction. It stands, king of the mountains, 4,411 ft above the surrounding highlands. It was once (millions of years ago) an active volcano, which erupted with a fury comparable to Krakatoa, before collapsing.
What a volcano it must have been.
Tackling Ben Nevis is no mean feat, but there are different route options depending on experience levels. Whichever way you choose to tackle it, the view from the top is transcendental.
Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh
Another inactive volcano, this time with expansive views from Holyrood Park over Edinburgh city centre. Arthur’s seat is an iconic part of the Edinburgh skyline, and exchanges looks with Edinburgh Castle, which is raised up alone in the city’s heart.
It’s thought that Arthur’s Seat could be the mythological location of King Arthur’s Camelot. It’s dramatic enough. Although, it’s not the first place to be in contention for such an accolade. We’ll never know.
The Tower Restaurant, Edinburgh’s Old Town
We wouldn’t be so shameless as to include our roof top restaurant in this list. We’re including it as a foot note.
Where fine Scottish food meets a fine Scottish view. From our restaurant you can gaze out above Edinburgh’s Old Town, wine in hand, and watch the sun setting over one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The castle, brooding upon the hill looks magical when silhouetted against Edinburgh’s cityscape.
If you fall in love with the Tower, you’ll not be alone.
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