I wasn’t sure what to expect of Scotland.
I’d imagined misty valleys, green landscapes and neat castles: the usual.
Yet I’d never imagined the emotional connection I would feel.
The rich history, wild scenery, friendly locals, and hearty pubs created an atmosphere that’s both unique and incredible.
We made the decision to base ourselves in Edinburgh, which gave us time to see the city and take day trips outside the city. It didn’t take us long to realize Scotland and Edinburgh deserve all the acclaim they receive: the countryside and city have a quality that’s completely their own.
We spent time in Edinburgh exploring the cobbled streets of the city. As we made our way up to the Old Town, the mist over the imposing Edinburgh Castle beckoned us.
Strolling through the alleys, narrow closes, and ancient cemeteries, made me think how the dark beauty of the architecture matched it’s even darker past. All of the buildings appear to carry the layers of smoke that burned a hundred years ago.
Yet at the other end of the Royal Mile, you’ll find the natural crags of Arthur's Seat. Edinburgh is a treasure trove of legend, mystery, and some of the most famous people in history. There are authors such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Walter Scott, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and J.K. Rowling from here. It almost makes your wonder if there’s something in the air that has inspired the stories both fictional and real.
When you depart the city, the landscape becomes untamed: hills and crags rising up wildly for miles on end. When we ventured out of the city we experienced a lot of those quintessentially "Scottish" things. This included castles, a distillery, a visit with one of the friendly highland coos (you know those adorable long haired cows), and seeing one of those famously "bonnie" lochs. Getting to see the countryside turning from green to the fall color was breath-taking, especially from the top of an ancient castle or the shores of a loch!
Sean and I often travel off season to save some money and avoid the large crowds, so we booked the trip for October. We have to admit, we were a little concerned about the weather since Scotland is known to be cold and rainy, especially in the fall. But we happily adjusted to the Scottish concept of "good weather", which we figured out meant unpredictable and either "good weather for outdoors" or "good weather for the pub". So we just packed extra layers, cozy socks, and waterproof boots. But the stiff "breeze" was a little stronger than we expected, so we picked up gloves and hats. But where better to pick up cozy clothing than a region famous for their woolen goods!
When I think about why the atmosphere in Scotland is so amazing, I’m reminded it’s not only the unpredictable weather and gorgeous landscapes, but also the people who live there. The Scottish hold so much pride for their heritage. Their tumultuous and often savage history has created a strong, independent culture that radiates to this day. Combine this with the mysterious and wild terrain and I am struck with the unbroken and beautiful Scottish spirit.
Mads is a graphic designer by day and adventurer by every other second. She and her husband Sean enjoy traveling and learning about other cultures. She also enjoys hiking, writing, daydreaming of travel, watching nerdy T.V. shows, and reading too many books at the same time. You can follow their adventures on their Website and Facebook.