Several years ago I had the privilege of living and working in Scotland for three months. I was based in Edinburgh but made several trips out into the Scottish countryside. Here are some of the highlights.
Edinburgh is best known for its castle, and for good reason. The wonderful old fortress overlooks the city from its perch on a high volcanic rock precipice. Dating back to the 12th century (ironically, from the reign of David I), the castle is the home of the annual military tattoo each August, in which parades of Scottish regiments, replete with pipes and drums, wow the crowds. When I was there a certain Edinburgh resident, J.K. Rowling, used the castle as a place to sign her newest Harry Potter book (written in many of Edinburgh’s cafes). The line stretched out the castle entrance and down the entire Royal Mile.
August is also the year of Edinburgh’s annual Fringe festival, which fills the city with over 50,000 performances of over 3,300 shows in over 300 venues. I was there in summer and got to experience the wackiness of the Fringe first hand. It is not to be missed.
The city sits among seven hills, including Castle Rock (where the castle stands), Calton Hill, and Arthur’s Seat, the name of the latter of which may (or may not) have been derived from the legends of King Arthur.
But there is more to Scotland than Edinburgh. Hopping into my summer rental car, and making sure to drive clockwise around roundabouts (since they drive on the left side of the road in all the UK), I headed north towards the Isle of Skye. Along the way I passed the amazing Pap of Glencoe:
The five sisters…
Black Mount at Loch Tulla
And the Eilean Donan Castle
Of course, you can also drive east from Edinburgh along the coast, where you’ll see Bass Rock, home to thousands of gannets.
Back in Edinburgh the weather is turning raw, a common occurrence in the Scottish fall. So joining up with my colleagues, we relax in the exclusive private rooms of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society to try out some single malts, from the light delicacy of Glen Spey to the full-bodied smokiness of Laphroaig. Aaaah.
David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book is on Abraham Lincoln, due out in 2017.