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Scotland is consistently recognised as one of the most beautiful countries in the world based on surveys done online by travel websites. While Scotland is known for having a developed economy due to the manufacturing, financial services and technology sector, they are also popular for their tourism industry which accounts for 5% of their GDP. This is largely due to their pristine tourist sites, verdant mountains and well-preserved historical sites.
If you’re planning to go to Scotland, here are some of their natural wonders that you should visit or see.
Glen Coe is named after the River Coe that runs through it. Others confuse it with Glencoe which is actually the name of the main settlement inside Glen Coe.
Glen Coe is a popular tourist destination especially for walkers and climbers. It’s also known for its beautiful sceneries, which are picture perfect, and its popular history. In 1692, the Glencoe Massacre occurred wherein the Macdonalds were killed by their hosts, the Campbells. This massacre is known to have inspired “The Red Wedding” in George R. R. Martin’s “Game of Thrones”.
Due to the fantastic scenery, several films, including Harry Potter and Highlander, used Glen Coe as their location for key scenes in the movies. Apart from visiting the areas where the popular movies were shot, the natural beauty of the location also attracts a lot of people who love leisurely walks and/or mountain climbing. Walkers like the Bidean nam Bian, a mountain in the area than can be summited with no real difficulty. Meanwhile, mountain climbers go to The Buachaille or The Three Sisters.
The wildlife in this area also never ceases to amaze tourists. It is highly probable that you would spot a herd of grazing red deer when you walk along a popular path called The Lairigs Walk. Golden eagles and herons are also abundant in this area.
St Kilda is the westernmost part of Scotland and the United Kingdom. It’s an isolated archipelago more than 100 km west of the Scottish mainland. It is a World Heritage Site and is managed by the National Trust for Scotland. Since it’s an isolated archipelago, the only means to get there is by using a boat or a yacht. St Kilda has not had any permanent population since the 1930s. This is another reason why the archipelago is relatively very pristine.
Apart from the impressive sceneries in the archipelago, St Kilda is also known for its abundant wildlife. St Kilda has 210 species of birds and a population of around 1 million birds in the archipelago. Some of the species that can be found here are: puffins, gannets, fulmars, guillemots, and kittiwakes, to name a few. Experts say that, while the isolation of the archipelago may have helped in growing the population of the native animals in the area, it also caused the lack of biodiversity.
A visit to Scotland would not be complete without seeing the Northern Lights. This is a visually stunning experience which should not be missed! This spectacular phenomenon has been flocked by countless tourists from all over the globe. How are these lights created? Electronically charged particles from the sun collide with atoms and molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere, thereby producing this wonderful spectacle of lights.
The Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights is visible in areas like the Coll in the Hebrides, the Isle of Skye, and Newbattle Abbey in West Lothian.
Achmelvich Bay is one of the most beautiful beaches in Scotland. This magnificent, white sandy beach attract a lot of sand and sea enthusiasts, especially those who are interested in snorkelling, windsurfing, kayaking and water skiing. Also ideal for fishing and sailing, it is about three miles northwest of Lochinver. However, the road leading to Achmelvich Bay is quite challenging which deters some people from visiting it. This is probably another reason why this paradise is still well preserved.
Achmelvich Bay is also home to several types of animals species. When you visit this place, you would probably see some urchins, sunstars, seals, otters, sharks, ospreys and white-tailed eagles, to name a few.
The Island of Staffa is located around 10 kilometres west of the Isle of Mull. Its land area is around 33 hectares. The island is uninhabited and is under the care of the National Trust for Scotland. As you approach the Island of Staffa when you travel by boat, what would immediately attract your attention is its appearance. Its basalt columns are very visible from afar and it creates the illusion that the island was built with these structures. These basalt columns are actually caused by the cooling of lava over a long period of time. Often associated with this place is the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, probably the most famous place with basalt columns.
Aside from the basalt columns, the Island of Staffa is most popularly known for Fingal’s Cave. It’s a sea cave with natural acoustics. The cave is around 22 metres tall and more than 82 metres deep. Because of its amazing appearance, Fingal’s Cave has been the subject of stories, mysteries and legends. One Irish Legend talks about a bridge being built by an Irish giant called Finn McCool. Legend says, Finn McCool built a bridge from the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland to Fingal’s Cave in Scotland to fight his Scottish gigantic counterpart, Benandonner. Interestingly, there’s some truth to the legend as scientists found out that around 60 million years ago, the same lava flow formed Fingal’s Cave and the Giant’s Causeway. So it’s possible that there may have been, at one time, a bridge that connected the two places.
In terms of wildlife, the Island of Staffa is dominated by seabirds. Travelling around the island, you will spot puffins, especially during the period May to August. Apart from puffins, you’ll also see fulmars, gannets, razorbills, guillemots, great northern divers, and great skuas. In the water, you may have sightings of porpoises, dolphins and fin and minke whales, especially in the summer.
Image Attribution: Photograph by Mary and Angus Hogg [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Image Resource: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AA_Cleit_On_St_Kilda_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1379478.jpg
Fingal’s Cave, Staffa Island
Image Attribution: Photograph by Luk~commonswiki (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Image Resource: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AFingal’s_Cave%2C_Staffa_Island_01.jpg