Blog

The Final Post

As this is my last post, it is the perfect time to reflect on my experience of starting my first ever blog. When I first started this I was also given another assignment which was an ‘investigation in to how to market Scotland as a tourist destination’ so I thought it would make sense to base the blog around this topic as it would help shape the extensive research that had to be made for it. I chose this as I am really interested in tourism as a whole but after a lot of travelling around Scotland I am more focussed to look at tourism in Scotland.

Personally I think tourism in Scotland is increasing very quickly due to a number of factors. A few years ago in the Highlands, tourism was considerably lower than that of the rest of the country. This was noticed by the North Highland Initiative who then created the North Coast 500. The route starts off in Inverness and goes right round the top of the highlands and back down again, showcasing many activities, history and restaurants on the way. As I worked in the Dornoch Tourist Information for two summer seasons, I found out just how vital the North Coast 500 was to even the locals in the highlands. A Lady told me that she had rented out her house for two weekends in the summer and made over £2000 from people who were taking part in the route. This shows how much money is being generated to the highland economy especially. I have always loved Scotland but it never used to be my first choice holiday option until I had a car myself and discovered that you can see a lot more if you choose to discover your own country first. One of my favourite trips was to the Isle of Skye, which I had been encouraged to go see by many of the tourists I spoke to in my summer seasons. I expected it to be pretty boring and dull but I was totally proved wrong. The landscapes were incredible (especially the Fairy Pools) and the people were lovely, the pubs were good too! I would recommend Skye to anyone who enjoys the outdoors and driving around.

As I was doing extensive research for my other assignment, I learned that Scotland is actually the first choice option for a lot of people who live in Scotland and outside of Scotland. One of the main reasons for people choosing not to stay/come to Scotland for a holiday is the weather, which obviously cannot be helped. Another reason was the lack of transport links within Scotland. I recently went to Prague and there were transport links that took you from the Airport by bus to the metro, then the metro to the town centre which has stops everywhere so there was hardly any confusion. I believe if Scotland had better transport links a lot more people would choose to travel here.

Although this assignment is over and my blogs for my college course have ended, I have chosen to keep my blog going and will discuss all aspects of travelling which I intend to do either this year or next year. My plan is to travel for a month going through Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Frankfurt, Krakow, Vienna and Budapest. Lastly I would like to thank you all for reading my blogs and I hope you enjoyed them!

 

Jodie Ross

blog-post-one-picture
Isle of Skye
Advertisements

Tourist Attractions in Scotland

Falls of Shin, Lairg   Free

The Falls of Shin, known locally to many as ‘Shinfalls’ is one of the best sights in the Highlands. With waterfalls that welcome leaping salmon every year, it really is worth the trip up past Bonar Bridge. As well as the actual waterfall, there is a newly opened visitor centre which has a restaurant, kids play area, crazy golf and walks around the woods. On their remarkable journey, salmon make their way back from the ocean to the rivers and follow them upstream. During this time, there are fierce currents to get through and waterfalls to climb. Falls of Shin is named to be the best place to see the salmon leaping upstream and you are most likely to see them in Autumn!

Cairngorm, Funicular Railway, Aviemore   £13/9

Aviemore is one of the greatest tourist locations for outdoor activities, but it’s most popular attraction is the Funicular Railway. Cairngorm Mountain is home to Scotland’s only funicular railway and it’s a railway that is placed on a mountain side.  This is a unique visitor experience that allows people to reach the top of the Cairngorm where they are greeted by the Ptarmigan Restaurant and viewing terrace that provides spectacular views from over 3,500ft. There is also an exhibition, shop and the highest post box in the British Isles. Visitors can also book on to a guided walk to the summit and back from there, but may not otherwise exit the Top Station.

Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies, Falkirk  £7.50/4/6.50

Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat lift in Scotland, connecting the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. The lift is named after the nearby town of Falkirk in central Scotland. It opened in 2002, reconnecting the two canals for the first time since the 1930s as part of the Millennium Link project. The wheel raises boats by 24 metres and then they also have to pass through a pair of locks between the top of the wheel and the Union Canal. The Falkirk Wheel is the only rotating boat lift of its kind in the world, and one of two working boat lifts in the United Kingdom. The Kelpies are an extraordinary sculpture that towers up beside the road just outside of Falkirk. The two beautiful steel horses were built on site in just 90 days! Andy Scott’s vision for The Kelpies follows the lineage of the heavy horse of industry and economy, pulling the wagons and ploughs, barges and coal ships that shaped the structural layout of the area.

Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh £13.50/8.55/11.70

Dynamic Earth is a visitor attraction in Edinburgh, and also functions as a conference venue. It is in the Holyrood area beside the Scottish Parliament building and at the foot of Arthur’s Seat. The overall focus of Dynamic Earth is to simplify a better public understanding of the processes that have shaped the Earth since the beginning of time. This includes the Big Bang, Abiogenesis, Plate tectonics and Glaciation. The whole experience is in 4D and you can touch an iceberg whilst standing under the Aurora Borealis. Dynamic Earth is fun for all ages and also includes a snowdome cinema with a 360 degree digital dome that showcases different films throughout the year.

 

Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye  Free

Skye is one of the most popular tourist destination in the world with over one million people travelling to the isle every year. Skye is most famous for its beautiful scenery which has been used for popular shows such as Game of Thrones and the remake of the BFG. However, when people think of Skye, they think of the Fairy Pools. The Fairy Pools are bright blue crystal water that follow a series of mini waterfalls up towards the Black Cuillins near Glenbrittle. The Fairy Pools are for people who fancy a swim (wetsuit recommended) and people who generally just want to admire the beautiful natural phenomenon and take photographs.

North Coast 500

 

The North Coast 500 (NC500) was created in 2014 by the North Highland Initiative. It is a route that goes around the Highlands of Scotland and is often referred to as ‘Scotland’s answer to Route 66’. The route was created to benefit not only tourists but the people who live in the highlands itself. The route starts and finishes in the highland capital of Inverness and passes through six counties on the way. The route could potentially take 4-5 days but if you really wanted to see all of the highlands you could easily spend a week doing it. This blog post will outline the highlights of the North Coast 500 and much more!

Dornoch

Dornoch is without a doubt the most beautiful and friendly town in the highlands, if not the whole of Scotland itself! With a white sandy award winning beach and a golf course that is within the top 100 in the world, you would be silly not to stop in and check out this beauty. The top of Dornoch Cathedral can be seen as you drive into the town and you quickly begin to see the Dornoch Castle which is placed opposite. The cathedral was built in the 13th century and has been home to many extraordinary events since then, most popularly, the christening of Madonna and Guy Ritchie’s baby in December, 2000. Dornoch is the perfect location on route to stop and stay at one of the many B and b’s and hotels it has to offer.

Durness

Durness is the most northerly town in Scotland and definitely worth stopping on route around the NC500. It is surrounded by beautiful landscapes along the coastline and wildlife. Durness is mostly famous for Cocoa Mountain and Smoo Cave. Cocoa Mountain was founded by two friends, Paul and James in 2006 and they claim to be the most remote chocolate producer in Europe! The best thing about Cocoa Mountain is their tasty hot chocolates that are to die for. Smoo Cave is the first ever chamber created by sea erosion and welcomes over 40,000 visitors a year. In the summer months if you are doing the NC500, there are guided boat tours that take you right in to the cave where you can see the main waterfall!

Stoer, Lochinver and Achmelvich

These three beautiful towns are placed right along the coastline and all offer white sandy beaches. Stoer has stunning scenery and winding roads that often have wild sheep roaming around which is the most traffic you’ll see for miles. The Old Man of Stoer is a 60 metre high sea stack of Torridonian sandstone that can be seen from the roadside and many people have attempted to climb it. Lochinver is the main town in Assynt and it is famous for its pies which are produced in the Lochinver Larder restaurant on the main street. They are definitely worth stopping in for even though they are a bit pricey at £5.55 a go! Achmelvich isn’t much of a town as it only has a campsite, a hostel and a caravan park but it is mostly famous for its white sandy beach and turquoise water – you’d genuinely think you were in the Caribbean!

Inverness

Inverness is the starting and finishing point of the North Coast 500 and it is also the capital of the Highlands. Tourists usually travel up to Inverness and then don’t venture further up, which is why the NC500 has been produced to encourage people to see the rest of the Highlands. Inverness offers history and culture ranging from the Culloden battlefield to the Jacobite cruises that take you to Urquhart Castle along the loch ness where the famous Nessie is said to have once lived. Inverness is the liveliest part of the highlands with pubs and clubs and many highly popular restaurants by the river.

 

 

Top five castles in Scotland!

 

 

Ardvreck Castle Ruins
Ardvreck Castle, Assynt

Scotland was once home to over three thousand castles. Wherever you are in Scotland you are more than likely to be a stone throw away from a castle, and often when you search for ‘things to do’ in an area you are looking to go to, chances are a castle will pop in in the suggestions! From the tourist hot spot Edinburgh Castle which overlooks the capital to the peaceful ruin that is Ardvreck Castle dating from the 16th century which stands on a rocky promontory projecting out into Loch Assynt in Sutherland. This blog post will highlight the top five castles and ruins in Scotland!

 

  1. Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh £17/13.60/10.20

It’s no surprise that this highly historical castle is usually number one on every tourists lists of things to see. Built on top of an extinct volcano, its geographical location made it one of the best defended fortresses in Scottish history. With more than 1.5 million visitors each year, Edinburgh Castle is the most paid for attraction outside of London. A visit here can set you back by quite a pricy entrance fee but it is absolutely worth it because the history you learn from a day here is endless.

 

  1. Dunrobin Castle, Sutherland £11/9.50/6.50

Dunrobin is the closest thing to a fairy-tale castle you can get, from the pristine white walls to the beautiful conical turrets – a day here is one worthwhile. A tour here will take you back to the time of the Earls and the Duke of Sutherland dating back to the 1300’s. The castle has 189 rooms and has acres of gardens that are looked after extremely well. The best part about Dunrobin is the falconry display. Andy Hughes, who has been the professional resident Falconer for many years demonstrates and explains the different hunting methods used by owls, hawks and falcons in a series of exciting displays. Every show creates great photo opportunities for the public and one person is luckily selected to be given the chance to catch one of the birds of prey wearing the special glove.

 

  1. Ardvreck Castle, Lochinver (free)

Ardvreck Castle is an ancient ruin placed on the east end of Loch Assynt. It’s on the route to Lochinver and is worth stopping to take a wander down to the castle and appreciate the views around it. When the tide is in, it’s not accessible. Unfortunately, due to health and safety it is not permitted to walk inside the ruin but can be viewed from the outside. Ardvreck Castle was attacked and captured by the Mackenzies in 1672. The castle burned down in 1737 and before the Mackenzies were able to rebuild the house, their estates had been seized by the Crown for their support of the losing side in the 1745 uprising. It has remained a ruin ever since then.

 

  1. Kelburn Castle and Estate, Ayrshire £9/7/7/30

Kelburn Castle is a large house near Fairlie, North Ayrshire, Scotland. Kelburn is most known for its unique graffiti wall which was designed by four Brazilian artists in 2007. In 1977 the historic castle estate was opened to the public as a multi-purpose family attraction, with gardens and grounds, family attractions, workshops, and special events taking place regularly. One of the most breath taking features is the Kelburn Glen with its waterfalls and deep gorges, it is regarded as one of Scotland’s most beautiful woodlands and leads to spectacular views over the islands of the Firth of Clyde.

 

  1. Dunnottar Castle, Aberdeen £7/3/17

There is no denying that Aberdeen isn’t known for its historical culture, however when you travel 30 minutes south to Stonehaven, Dunnottar Castle captures more beauty and endless historical information you could ever imagine. Although it costs to enter the actual castle, even just standing in the grounds before the ruin are worth the journey. When you reach the cliff edge you can get views of the castle itself and Stonehaven in the background. An interesting fact about Dunnottar Castle is that it has been burnt to the ground a number of times, most interestingly by the Scottish themselves to try and kill the invading English.

dunrobin castle
Dunrobin Castle, Golspie

Five destinations, five beautiful budget eats, five fine dining delights

 

 

Scotland is a food lover’s heaven. From deep fried mars bars to freshly caught Orkney scallops in the North Sea. Scotland is more than just haggis, neeps and tatties with so many additional delicacies to offer. This post will highlight some of the best restaurants and cafes throughout Scotland from budget meals when times are tough to fine Scottish dining when you fancy the champagne lifestyle.

 

Glasgow

Bier Halle – £5/15

Whilst it’s mainly the beer people come for, it’s the cheap but tasty food which will bring them back to this beer hall again and again. People are raving about Bier Halle and it’s no surprise when they offer a free bratwurst hot dog or Bavarian pretzel with every jug of beer. As well as this they also do two-for-one on their tasty pizzas, seven days a week.

Cali Bruich – £25/55

The Cali Bruich (meaning ‘eat well’) is a fine dining restaurant in Glasgow which offers an exciting menu changing from season to season, using only the freshest Scottish ingredients. The four course menu offers an array of dishes including vegetarian options. A sample menu includes scallops, squid, smoked roe and celeriac to start,  stone bass langoustine, sea kale and mushroom as a main and for dessert they offer a stunning cheese board for an extra £3.

 

Aberdeen

Inversnecky Café £2/15

The Inversnecky café is in an amazing location beside the beach in Aberdeen. It offers outdoor seating in the summer if you are brave enough to endure the seagulls who have their eye on every bite you take! The menu offers an extensive breakfast and lunch menu and a large selection of hot drinks at a reasonable price. The café has a ‘specials’ board outside more regularly used as a pun board, which they update every day and the customers are raving about it. Inversnecky is quirky and provides views of the beautiful beach from the window.

Silver Darling £8.50/22.50

The Silver Darling is a seafood restaurant situated at the mouth of Aberdeen harbour. With views of the North Sea, Silver Darling has been operating and serving freshly caught seafood daily for over 30 years. Main courses start at £22 with all ingredients locally picked out and cooked to the best quality. The famous Aberdeen Bay lobster comes from one of the last lobster fishing boats that exists in Aberdeen. Silver Darling is exceptional and a seafood lover’s dream.

 

Dundee

The Horn £4/10

This little gem of a café is situated in-between Perth and Dundee at the side of the A90. The Horn was originally a tartan shed before it opened as a stop by café which is famous for its bacon rolls. The bacon roll offers an astonishing 16 rashers of bacon packed into a large morning roll for just £4. It’s a great place to stop if you are heading off on a long journey or simply just fancy a bite to eat before work in the morning.

Castlehill Restaurant £14/75

The Castlehill Restaurant is a stone’s throw away from the newly rejuvenated water front in Dundee. The high class menu offers Shetland scallops to Perth-shire beef with a three course menu available at £35 per person. If you are feeling less peckish they offer a lunch menu with the choice of Scottish crab in a jasmine tea consommé!

 

Edinburgh

Oink Grassmarket £2.95/4.95

Oink was opened in 2008 and delivers a high quality fast food alternative in Edinburgh’s Victoria Street that people absolutely love. Oink is straight to the point and honest food. They offer three sizes of hog roast rolls, The Piglet – for the smaller eater at £2.95, The Oink –  Classic hog roast roll £3.95 and The Grunter – for the larger appetite £4.95. This place is great if you are on your lunch break or if you are on holiday and fancy a bite to eat without breaking the bank.

The Dome £6.50/33

The Dome, which is located on the popular George Street in Edinburgh is highly recognisable especially during the festive season when the pillars are lit up with magnificent Christmas lights. The Dome is considered a first choice venue to meet family, friends and colleagues for Coffee, Cocktails, Tea, Lunch and Dinner. The Dome is famous for its afternoon teas that include delicate finger sandwiches, scones and sweet pastries for £23.50 per person. The menu is fine dining at its best and is definitely worth the price!

 

Highland

Castle Street restaurant, Inverness £3.50/14.90

The Castle Street restaurant is a family favourite for many people in the highlands and surrounding areas. With no pretensions to fine dining or anything too fancy, the Castle Restaurant targets a customer looking for no-nonsense meals with decent portions sizes at cheap prices. The famous macaroni cheese at the Castle Restaurant is one of the best to grace the planet. It comes with freshly made crinkle-cut chips with the options of beans on the side for only £6.80. The food arrives minutes after being ordered and is always outstanding.

Links House, Dornoch   £20/55

Links House is a five star hotel situated in one of the most beautiful towns in the Scottish Highlands, Dornoch. Links House only opened in 2013 but it has already put Dornoch on the map with being one of the most luxurious hotels in the United Kingdom. As well as their stunning rooms, they have a fine dining restaurant which is open to everybody, with booking in advance being essential. Head chef JP Saint is dedicated to using fresh ingredients sourced from local suppliers. Links House also offers an Afternoon Tea at £20 per person and £29 if you wish to have a glass of champagne too.

 

Top Whisky Tours in Scotland

 

There are currently over 150 active distilleries in Scotland and has five distinct whisky regions which are Highland, Speyside, Lowland, Islay, and Campbeltown – which all have unique characteristics and flavours that differentiate one from the other. The whisky industry accounts for 80% of Scottish food and drink exports and impacts 200 markets worldwide. The whisky sector generates £3.3 billion to the UK economy each year and attracts over one million visitors to the distilleries alone. This blog post will home in on the top five whisky distilleries across the five distinct regions in Scotland!

 

  1. Dalmore, Alness    

The Dalmore name dates back to 1263, when Colin of Kintail, who is the chief of the clan Mackenzie, saved King Alexander III of Scotland from a charging stag. To say thank you, the King allowed Colin the right to use the Royal Stag logo as the Mackenzie clan crest which is now used as the whisky brand on every bottle.  The distillery itself was established hundreds of years later in 1839 by Alexander Matheson. The tour at Dalmore lasts around an hour with each one being at 11am, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm at a cost of £8. It is essential to book in the summer months as it is very busy and allows only twelve people to take part in the tour at one time. In a recent visit, my friend Alex and I were taken around Dalmore for a tour by Annemarie who has worked there for four summer seasons. Annemarie was excellent – she was friendly, confident and knew exactly what she was talking about. The best thing about Dalmore is that you can see how the whisky is developed when going through the different stages. It is presented in a room with the start of the process at one end and the final Dalmore whisky at the other. As well as this, it showcases the different spices and ingredients which are added to the whisky to get its distinctive taste, it is a great way to fully understand how the whisky is made. After being shown around the distillery, we were then offered a dram of the 12 year old Dalmore in a beautiful tasting room and a video that showed the history of the whisky was displayed for us to watch. Overall a great tour and the whisky tastes beautiful too!

2. Glenmorangie, Tain

Glenmorangie is situated in the north highlands just outside the town of Tain. Glenmorangie offers three tours within the distillery itself – these are the Original Tour, the Signet Tour and the Heritage tour. The original tour lasts between 30 and 40 minutes and includes a guide of the distillery and learning about the flagship whisky, Glenmorangie Original. At the end of the tour you are also offered a taste of the whisky itself. This tour is great value at only £7 per person.

3. Ardbeg, Islay

Ardbeg distillery is situated on the ‘Land of the whisky’ Isle of Islay and the distillery is beautifully placed beside the shore in Port Ellen. The peat distinguishes Islay’s single malts from those of other regions. Burned in kilns to dry the malted barley, it has been formed over millions of years. Ardbeg offers an array of tours starting from the ‘Distillery tour and wee taste’ at £6 per person. The distillery also has a lovely cafe called the ‘The Old Kiln café, which is appropriately named as it is literally where the peat used to be burned for the whisky itself.

4. Talisker, Isle of Skye

Talisker is the only active distillery left on the popular tourist destination of the Isle of Skye. It is set on the shores of Loch Harport with views of the rocky mountains known as the ‘Cuillins’. The distillery offers three different tours, Talisker Classic Distillery Tour, the Talisker Flight and the Talisker Tasting Tour. The classic tour lasts around 45 minutes and includes a tasting of Talisker itself at the price of £10. The Talisker Flight tour is designed for tourists that have more time to experience the full Talisker whisky. It lasts between one and a half hours and offers a taste of the whisky in a less formal setting. The Talisker tasting tour is an in depth experience of the distillery that also allows tasting of five different expressions of Talisker. The tour lasts approximately two hours and costs £40 per person.

5. Aberlour, Speyside

The distillery can be found in the lovely town of Aberlour in Moray. The distillery offers two bespoke tours named ‘The Aberlour Experience’ and the ‘Casks from the Past Tasting’. The extraordinarily pure, soft spring water used for making Aberlour whisky is drawn from nearby natural lochs which gives its distinct flavours. The Aberlour Experience offers a tour of the distillery and a tasting of six expressions of Aberlour itself. For all of this it costs just £15 per person and lasts around one and a half hours. The Casks from the Past Tasting is more directed at whisky enthusiasts which allows you to try some unique drams that aren’t ready available at any price. For this the tour lasts only one hour but does not include a tour of the distillery, available for £35 per person!

6. Springbank, Campbeltown

Being based in Campbeltown, the once proclaimed ‘whisky capital of the world’ has been going since 1828 and is now owned by the fifth generation of the Mitchell family. The distillery offers seven tours altogether ranging from the cheapest being the Springbank Tour to the most expensive being the Frank McHardy Tour.  The Springbank Tour at £7 offers a look around the distillery with a tasting of the whisky at the end. The Frank McHardy Tour offers an exclusive day with Frank McHardy himself who has over 50 years’ experience in the whisky industry. The tour also offers a lunch with Frank McHardy followed by tasting an array of different whisky’s favoured by Frank himself.

So what is this all about?

Hi, my name is Jodie and I have decided to write a blog! I have always had an interest in travel and tourism but more recently, travel in Scotland. I have worked two summer seasons in the Dornoch Tourist Information which has given me the inspiration to see as much of my home country as possible.This was after hearing hundreds of visitors using the same expression of ‘your country is so beautiful’ and having never visited some of the places they had been to before me! After visiting gorgeous places such as the Isle of Skye and many little towns in Aberdeenshire, I have been inspired to encourage others to stay in Scotland and see what it has to offer. As well as this, the blog will look at ways in which to market Scotland as a popular holiday destination for people outside of the UK. This blog will uncover the most popular tourist attractions, national delicacies, shopping destinations, and history and whisky tours all over Scotland. This project is part of my Advertising and Public Relations course at the North East Scotland College and the idea behind it is to educate readers on how to experience Scotland’s full potential.

Scotland is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the world with over 15 million visitors yearly and generates around £15 billion from tourism alone. Scottish people tend to be sun worshippers and are quick to choose going abroad on holiday over staying in their own country (which isn’t surprising sometimes with the weather!) but I want to give a little insight into Scotland that might change some perceptions. Have you seen some of Harris’s beaches? They wouldn’t look out of place in the Caribbean on the right day!
By encouraging travellers to stay in their home nation, even more money could be made from tourism and would therefore improve Scotland’s economy. Scotland has amazing landscapes ranging from the Cairngorm Mountains to Edinburgh castle in the capital. When people travel to Scotland they often visit the tourist hot spots such as Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness but don’t seem to venture much further, whether that’s due to preference, time constraints or just lack of knowledge. I personally think that a lot of tourists are missing out on the hidden gem that is the Highlands and Islands which provide so much diversity and a real insight into Scottish culture. Therefore, this blog aims to highlight the importance of the Highlands and Islands as a tourist destination, including the newly recognised North Coast 500 – often referred to as ‘Scotland’s answer to the Route 66’. Please keep a look out for further blog posts which will look at ways in which to market Scotland as a tourist destination.