A huge reason that I wanted to see Scotland was because I am fascinated by the castles and ruins that are there. The Adorable Husband laughed more than once that I was more interested in the crumbling buildings that I was the ones that were still standing. He’s probably right — I would much rather wander through a crumbling stone ruin and imagine what life was like there than be herded through a carefully preserved museum-piece.
So, much of the research that I did for our trip involved finding and indentifying the castles we could go visit. I strongly recommend joining The National Trust for Scotland and/or Historic Scotland if you are interested in castles and abbeys. Membership offers free admission to the sites, and other benefits.
So I’ve collected quite a few links to general castle sites, below:
General Castle Sites
General Lodging Guides,
Hotels and Guesthouses, B&B’s, and Hostelling
The second worry is always — “Where are we going to stay?”. This is where the Web excels! There are dozens of sites listing hotels, guest houses, and Bed and Breakfasts.
General Guides: Scotland
While a visit to the bookstore can reap several dozen guidebooks and maps, there are a number of general online guides to Scotland (most notably the Tourist Board), that have a wealth of information.
General Guides: UK
Travel Guides: Online
Books and Travel Magazines
Me, well, I can’t pass up the opportunity to buy a book on a bet. I start to get sweaty palms when I walk through the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver, and I can walk out with a pile of books in three minutes flat.
I think we’re up to about 5 feet of books on Scotland now.
If you’re interested in castles, then you should definitely pick up the Bartholomew Castles Map of Scotland, which is a reproduction of a historical map listing nearly 1200 sites all over Scotland. This was one of my primary resources for planning our itinerary. Some of the other online mapping sites, and sources for printed maps are below:
Rental Cars and Driving
Driving was a real adventure — Mark swerved and I screamed. It seemed to work. Considering that they drive on the left in the UK, it was harder than I thought it would be. Frankly, I think that all tourists (or at least the ones from countries that drive on the right) should be required to drive dayglo-orange cars with bright, blinking lights that proclaim them to be tourists. Just to warn the other drivers.
Information by Region and City
Nearly every large city, and most of the regions in Scotland have a local tourist office presence on the web. Usually, they list accomodations, sights and activities, and other information about the towns and villages nearby. In addition, many smaller towns have a branch of the Scottish Tourist Office, which can assist with lodgings and other info.
Distilleries and Scotch Whisky
One of the things that everyone asked us when we got back was ‘did you drink a lot of scotch?’. We only visited one distillery, Glenturret, but we did a lot of research about single malts and the long history of Scotch Whisky.
Weather in Scotland and the UK