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If countryside and nature are what you are after, Scotland is one of the nicest places to visit, especially the highlands where you can get lost in the endless green of the Scottish grass kept vivid by the frequent showers the country is known for, whilst admiring the livestock along your way. So after my second visit to Scotland here are the 8 things I loved most about this country, both as a traveller and as a photographer.
1. The countryside
This is a no brainer but here it is in the first spot; the breathtakingly beautiful and peaceful Scottish countryside. If you like hiking you are spoiled for choice with parks and hiking options. Although landscape and seascape photography is not my go-to style of photography, I couldn’t hold back from snapping pictures when I was surrounded by the beauty of Scottish scenery. Keep in mind that it does rain often, but that is no reason to stop you, so invest in some good shoes and waterproof gear and start walking.
2. The wildlife
Along with the countryside comes the life stock and wildlife from birds and cattle to deers and seals. You could spend hours searching for these charming creatures roaming in Scotland and taking tons of pictures as I gladly did (maybe even getting a little trigger happy). If you are interested in seeing some animals, do carry out some research beforehand for best times and places for certain animals, although it does come down to luck as even at the pre-researched spots we did not manage to see some animals like otters, dolphins and puffin birds. Just another reason to go again I guess.
3. The charming villages
Touring the highlands of Scotland also meant that we would come across a number of charming villages along the way. From fishing villages to colourful houses and shops, this was a photographer’s treat. These spots were also great for trying some local cuisine on our lazy no cooking evenings.
4. Islands, beaches and rock formations
As you may have read, I prefer a forest over a beach any day, but the beaches here do have a calming quality with rock formations that adds interest in photos. Having travelled around the coasts of Scotland through routes like N500, beaches and islands are abundant and make great photographic spots for a sunset or a long exposure shot. Just make sure the weather is on your side before taking a boat ride to any islands if, like me, you are not a born sailor as I can attest that the sea can get quite rough up North of Scotland the further away from the shore!
5. Castles’ Paradise
If you are after castles, I have not yet found a place that offers more castle options than Scotland. One could spend a whole trip just castle hunting, visiting from fully functioning castles turned into hotels to castle ruins. And if you like history, all these castles come with their own story.
6. Manmade Gems
As much as I love nature I also admire manmade works of art and engineering. From bridges and viaducts to large horse structures and rotating boat lifts, Scotland had a number of manmade gems to discover. And if you are a Harry Potter fan, here is where you will find the ‘Hogwarts Express’, being the Jacobite Steam train, going over the Glenfinnan Viaduct. Although I enjoyed the movies, I’m no Harry Potter fanatic although I must admit that seeing my first steam engine train was just magical. If you are going to photograph the train make sure that you are there well before the train is scheduled to arrive as the train passes over the viaduct only 2 times in the day and there is a brief walk to arrive at a good spot to see the train, which will be crowded by people. Another engineering masterpiece I marvelled in awe of was the Falkirk wheel, which by the magic of physics is able to lift a boat with water from one canal to another with minimal effort. You can also get on it to experience the rotation, but I felt one could better admire it in action from the ground.
7. Unique Camper van community
With as vast countryside as there is in Scotland, it comes as no surprise that many locals have a motorhome and that tourists indulge in renting a camper van as we opted for. You can read about my experience of living in a van here. Having your own wheels in Scotland helps to get further faster, and enabling you to get to that hard to reach places for that unique experiences and picture.
8. Today’s rain is tomorrow’s whiskey.
I’m no whisky expert but I do appreciate a good scotch on the rocks, and Scotland has a lot of those to offer. Being a whisky lover or not, one cannot visit Scotland without visiting a whisky distillery or two. Be it for experiencing the whiskey-making process from fermentation to distillery or just to taste some aged Scotch, it’s a nice experience that offers a glimpse into the art of whiskey making.
Have you been to Scotland? What did you find, or think you would find most interesting to photograph?
Click here if you want the full 11 day itinerary of the route we took around the Highlights of Scotland and click here to read about my experience of living in a van for the first time.
Have a look at the gallery for even more photos of Scotland.