Scotland…….the land of majesty.

Scotland’s scenery has to be one of  the most beautiful on this earth, may be that’s just my opinion, but I have been very fortunate enough to visit it in the time of the year when its natural beauty has been more clearly visible to me, and can be  appreciated even more than I ever thought possible.

 For me personally it is a country that many years ago I spent a lot of my holidays in due to being able to take coach tours around various parts of the isles. I suppose in a way I was drawn to this country because of its natural beauty as well as it’s great if some what turbulent history. To me Scotland has always been seen to be a country where it’s landscape never really changes, but constantly looks different, by this I mean for instance when travelling the exact same road looking at the same range of mountains but going in opposite directions, it looked different just a couple of hours apart. Not just an optical illusion, but rather a shift of weather patterns and lighting determining this change, whatever the reason in my eyes  it’s just magical.

Many poems and stories have been written about this exceptionally beautiful part of the UK, and many famous people originate  from Scotland. Robert Louis Stevenson who was born in Edinburgh wrote the majority of his book Treasure Island at a  house in Castleton of Braemar in the summer of 1881 (a house I was fortunate to see from the roadside on one of my tours a few days ago into the village of Braemar)

The history and the splendor of Scotland has always fascinated me. It has seen more than it’s fair share of historical battles, and its history has shaped a great deal of our  English  heritage and laws. It is of course a second home to our royal family, and a place where the Queen and the Duke love to spend as much as their spare time as possible  during the summer months, and often attend the Highland Gathering up in the little village of Braemar. It was in Scotland that our late Queen Mother fell in love with King George, although at the time his destiny was not that of a King but a Prince.

One of the most incredible beauty spots I remember seeing many years ago was Queens View overlooking Loch Tummel, for me it highlighted the significance and the beauty of the Scottish country side. Therefore I was absolutely delighted to be able to see this magnificent  part of the Isles again on this last trip to Scotland. The view was very much how I had remembered it, but even now 14/15 years on even more stunningly beautiful. To say the scene that lay before me was breathtaking is no exaggeration.

Having said that, we spent three full days travelling around various parts of Scotland surrounding our base of Pitlochry in Perthshire and the scenery was something to be marvelled at day by day, and even hour by hour. We visited several places including Gretna Green on the first day travelling up to the Highlands. Throughout the rest of the week, we visited incredible places such as Blairgowrie, Dunkeld, Crieff, Queens View, the little village of Pitlochry itself, where we spent a leisurely couple of hours one of the afternoons before returning to our hotel The Pitlochry Hydro, which was perched up on a hill overlooking the village. On Thursday we finished the tour in the fair city of Perth, which was once the capital of Scotland, but not before making a visit to The Famous Grouse Distillery, where we were able to sample some of their delightful 10-year-old Glenturret single malt whisky (and of course the chance to purchase a bottle or two to return home with) The Famous Grouse is the oldest distillery in Scotland (originated officially in 1775, but is reputed to be even older than that) and distillery has most of its original vats and equipment in use, and is lovingly kept in working order by a gentleman who lives in the near vicinity. One wonders how he is paid his ‘wage’ for tending the machinery!!

I must admit, that although I drink very little other alcohol throughout the year I am partial to a wee dram of a fine old single malt every now and then, having said that the three bottles I brought back with me should last at least a year or so. Malt Whisky is one of those drinks that can not be hurried, it has to be sipped and savoured to appreciate its deep and smooth flavour…..and further more unlike blended scotch whisky, malt should never have ice or water added to it…….I shudder at the thought!

On Wednesday we visited Braemar, a small but very quaint village, and travelled further up in to the mountains to a bridge overlooking the River Dee. Here we stopped briefly for an amazing photo opportunity, this was the only day we encountered any bad weather……snow mainly. But then what would a visit to Scotland be without some snow to add to the atmosphere? Along this part of our journey through the Cairngorms we were very fortunate to see several herds of wild stags and deer in the distance

I have to say that the entire week was a truly memorable one for all the right reasons, the holiday company I went with Shearings, did a magnificent job of looking after us, taking us to places you could only dream of, the hotel was exceptionally good as was their food and service, and the companionship of my very dear Carole. But for me the highlight of this holiday  was being able to see that incredible view of Loch Tummel perched high on Queens view again after such a long time. With any luck it won’t be another long wait before returning there.

For my friend Carole as well as me, this had been a special journey, not just in the true sense of the word a journey to another part of the country, but spiritually as well. Carole is a truly remarkable lady, and like myself this had been a much needed and long awaited break. It was great that we got on so well and enjoyed each others company. We both suffer depression, we both have  health problems, we both love photography and art. But for Carole, (who I am dedicating my next blog/post too, with her permission granted) I want to tell you a little bit this remarkable lady who I am so proud to have as a very dear  friend, because after what she has achieved not just last week, but also over these last few years is truly amazing and inspiring.

I have included a small selection of photos. A great number of the photos we took during the holiday were taken through our coach window, so please excuse the poor quality of some of them and I hope it doesn’t spoil your enjoyment.

Wild Stags in the Cairngorm mountains.

Wild Stags in the Cairngorm mountains.

An incredibly beautiful sight to see. Sadly, these incredible beasts are currently being culled.

An incredibly beautiful sight to see. Sadly, these incredible beasts are currently being culled.

More Stags in the Cairngorns, seen through our coach window.

More Stags in the Cairngorns, seen through our coach window.

Famous Grouse more well known brands of blended Scotch Whisky.

Famous Grouse more well-known brands of blended Scotch Whisky.

Famous Grouse Distillery, Crieff, Perthshire.

Famous Grouse Distillery, Crieff, Perthshire.

From the bank of River Dee, looking up to the bridge.The ice was just hanging from the side of the banks.

From the bank of River Dee, looking up to the bridge.The ice was just hanging from the side of the banks.

View from bridge overlooking River Dee. Solid ice left from the few weeks weather that Scotland has had to endure.

View from bridge overlooking River Dee. Solid ice left from the few weeks weather that Scotland has had to endure.

SCOTLAND DAY 3 (270)

From the bridge looking down across the river with the mist in the distance.

From the bridge looking down across the river with the mist in the distance.

SCOTLAND DAY 3 (250)

Looking across the opposite bank.

Looking across the opposite bank.

A fast flowing section of the river.

A fast flowing section of the river.

Further up the river, those beautiful snow capped mountains just visible behind the mist

Further up the river, those beautiful snow capped mountains just visible behind the mist

A common sight in the Highlands, Lychen on the trees, because the air is so clean and pure.

A common sight in the Highlands, Lychen on the trees, because the air is so clean and pure.

SCOTLAND DAY 2 (228)

Loch Tummel from Queens View.

Loch Tummel from Queens View.

Queens View, overlooking Loch Tummel.......my favourite view across Scotland.....breathtaking scenery, No amount of photography can do it justice, it has to be seen to be believed.

Queens View, overlooking Loch Tummel…….my favourite view across Scotland…..breathtaking scenery, No amount of photography can do it justice, it has to be seen to be believed.

Dunkeld Cathedral in the little village of Dunkeld. One of the most historic Cathedrals in Scotland.

Dunkeld Cathedral in the little village of Dunkeld. One of the most historic Cathedrals in Scotland.

Sheep doing best what sheep do in  any field........looking a bit sheepish!!

Sheep doing best what sheep do in any field……..looking a bit sheepish!!

SCOTLAND DAY 1 (33)

A piper in Gretna Green, once you see this sight, then you just know your finally in Scotland.

My friend Carole enjoying the splendid view across Loch Tummel.

My friend Carole enjoying the splendid view across Loch Tummel.

Scotland is a photographers paradise. Now I have been back there  after a long absence, I will be returning again. This is one place that you have to see to believe.

For more photos of Scotland please feel free to look on my fb page Sue Westwood, which I will be putting up over the next few days.

Many thanks for stopping by.

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