How do you begin to sum up Scotland? The nation occupies the northern third of the British Isles and a huge variety of landscapes make up its 30,000 square miles. With a population of just 5.4 million, it has only around one tenth the number of people per square mile of its southern neighbour. So visitors to Scotland won’t find themselves short of space!
The easiest way to get your mind around the place is through the differing characteristics of its three regions. The most obvious division is between the Highlands and Lowlands, with the boundary running northeast from just above Glasgow towards Aberdeen, turning north in the direction of Inverness before reaching the coast. The islands off the west and north coasts form the third distinct area.
The Highlands are dominated by the great mountains and valleys of the northern part of the country, including Ben Nevis which, at 4,400 feet, is the highest peak in the British Isles. This is where we find the landscapes that for many form the Scotland of their imagination. One of the most sparsely populated regions in Europe, this was the stronghold of Scottish Gaelic, and the Hebrides islands off the west coast still have the highest concentration of the speakers of the Celtic tongue.
To the south and east lies Lowland Scotland. From the lush forests and glens, the moors and rivers of Perthshire to the stately homes, abbeys and castles of the Borders that tell of a turbulent history. Then there are the cities. While Scotland is a predominantly rural country - only four cities and towns have populations of more than 100,000 – no visit would be complete without a trip to Glasgow and Edinburgh. Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow and the adjacent Clyde Valley bear witness to Scotland’s industrial heritage. Edinburgh is a little more genteel but is home to a vibrant annual Festival that attracts some of the UK’s finest musicians and performers.
Finally to the islands. In the southwest lie the islands off the coast of Argyle – whisky country. Further north are the islands of the Outer Hebrides with a slower pace of life, stunning beaches and ancient standing stones. And then on to Orkney off the north east coast, an archipelago of more than 70 islands. Even further north we come to Shetland, a group of 100 islands that are closer to Norway than to mainland Scotland. Shetland’s unique cultural heritage is reflected in its ancient stone monuments and structures.
If exploring all that isn’t enough, there are plenty of other options to keep visitors occupied. Whisky tours, 500 golf courses and myriad Highland Games festivals are just some of the choices.
Read more about other travelling to Celtic Regions:
READ MORE ABOUT FOOD AND DRINK IN THE OTHER CELTIC REGIONS:
- Cornish Food and Drink
- Breton Food and Drink
- Irish Food and drink
- Scottish Food and Drink
- Manx Food and Drink
- Welsh Food and Drink