I've been fortunate to travel all around Scotland, and there are many places that hold warm spots in my heart. Edinburgh, Islay, Skye, the Outer Hebrides, the entire northwest coast come immediately to mind. But my favorite place by far is Orkney. It's a magical place, with so many marvelous archeological sites that you can't turn around without tripping over one. Chambered tombs, stone circles, and brochs are the order of the day. Highland Park does an excellent tour, and is reasonably picturesque, given that it sits within the town of Kirkwall; it's actually on a hill overlooking town. Kirkwall has numerous interesting sites to visit, including the stunning St. Magnus Cathedral and the ruins of the Earl's and Bishop's Palaces; there are also several good pubs, notably the Bothy Bar at the Albert Hotel. But I usually base myself in Stromness, which has more of that northern isle Scottish/Norwegian charm. The best pub there is probably the one in the Stromness Hotel, which has a special malt bar adjoining, with a substantial number of interesting bottles. Another great place to stay, eat, and drink is the Cleaton House on Westray. There is less of archeological interest on Westray, but there are some nice walks, particularly the west Westray walk, five miles along the cliffs on that side of the island. All three of these pubs serve excellent Orkney Brewery ales, as well as at least a reasonable array of malts.
I could go on for a while...suffice it to say that I would recommend a trip to Orkney to anyone. You could see a lot in a couple of days, but stay at least three or four if you can. You wouldn't be bored if you stayed a week or more. There is some extra time and expense involved in getting there, but it's worth it.
http://www.orkneyjar.com/ (excellent site dealing with Orkney's archeology and heritage)
So...for the benefit of Durttbeag and anyone else who is thinking of going...what's your favorite Scotland?
My grandmother went on in detail about how the brakes on a train failed, or the conductor fell asleep, and the train drove through the wall of the Largs station. She was quite animated and nearly out of breath due to the excitement of recounting the events and so I was surprised when I heard that the accident had happened a year earlier. The charm of life in a small town!
Oh yeah, if you are there don't forget to look for the one tiny amusement ride in the middle of the beach (if it's still there). Never quite figured that one out-
Seeing the Tattoo at Edinburgh Castle was icing on that cake, and it was during the Golden Jubilee when I was there. Magical, beautiful trip, that.
I'm thinking a trip to Edinburgh for Hogamany might be what I'll do next... (hoping that will happen).
I do hope you post pictures and/or a listing of the high points on your trip, Durttbeag, in here after you get back home.
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