Whit’s Fur Ye’ll No Go By Ye: Scottish Inspiration for Life


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One of the aspects of travel that I most appreciate is learning about a new culture. The people, the language and the customs all reveal more about a country.

Scotland is dear to my heart. I’ve visited that beautiful country more than any other. And during my visits I’ve collected a variety of proverbs, sayings and expressions that are equally dear to me.

These are some of my favorite finds, Scottish inspiration for life…mine and others.


Scottish Inspiration for Life title


Scottish Inspiration for Life

I’ve embraced my Scottish heritage, from practicing afternoon tea to wearing my clan’s tartan to adopting Scottish expressions. For sure, there are many humorous Scottish sayings, with some that cause non-Scots to scratch their heads in bewilderment.

This collection shares some of the deep wisdom from the earthy, practical people of Scotland while maintaining their unique wording and yes, their wit.

We’re A’ Jock Tamson’s Bairns

Translation: We are all God’s children, all created equal.

Jock Tamson is the Scottish term for “everyman”. No one is better than anyone else and every person has value.

This saying originated in the 19th century with a much loved Scots minister, Reverend John Thomsan. He was fond of calling his congregation his “bairns” which means children.

Failin Means Yer Playin

Translation: It’s better to try and fail than not try at all.

Some add “ye cannae win if yer no in the game”. You’ll never know what you can do if you don’t try!

Get this inspirational saying on a tee!

Scottish Inspiration for Life Royal Mile
Scottish Inspiration for Life – the beauty of the Royal Mile in Old Town.

A Nod’s as Guid as a Wink for a Blind Horse

Translation: Explain yourself well and make your meaning clear.

Make your words precise and clear and then don’t worry if some don’t understand your meaning or agree with you. You may not change people’s minds but it’s not worth the stress and hassle to argue. Say what you mean and stand by your words and then move on.

A Lie is Half-Way Roon Scotland Afore the Truth Has Its Boots Oan

Translation: Watch what you say. Bad news, lies and gossip travel fast.

Speak the truth. A lie not only catches the liar eventually, it spreads much faster than the truth. And be discerning with what you hear or read. It may not be true.

Scottish Inspiration for Life Edinburgh Castle
Scottish Inspiration for Life – Edinburgh Castle

It’s a Lang Road That’s No Goat a Turnin

Translation: It’s a long road that does not have a turn.

Don’t lose heart. Things won’t go on in the same direction forever. Even during challenging or dark times, don’t give up. Keep going. This will pass and things will get better.

Keep the Heid

Translation: Keep calm and carry on.

Everything will be okay. Don’t get anxious or upset. Stay level headed. You will get through this.

Scottish Inspiration for Life Dean Village laundry
Scottish Inspiration for Life – laundry drying in Dean Village

Yer a Long Time Deid

Translation: Seize the day and live it to the fullest.

We are all mortal. Death comes soon enough. Don’t wait to do the things you really want to do in life. Pursue what brings you joy, with no regrets.

Lang May Yer Lum Reek

Translation: Good luck and good fortune to you, in the future.

This phrase is typically used during New Year’s as a toast to one’s health and a wish for long life. The phrase literally means “long may your chimney smoke”.

Scottish Inspiration for Life John Knox House
Scottish Inspiration for Life – John Knox House on Royal Mile

Whit’s Fur Ye’ll No Go By Ye

Translation: What’s meant for you will come to you.

This expression is my current favorite. It’s similar to the expression “what will be, will be”. I love it because the expression reminds me to stay in the flow of life and trust that what is meant for me, will come to me at the exact right time. If I stay open, then I can’t miss what’s for me. And if it’s not for me, it won’t happen. I can accept that and let it go.

This saying is on a shirt as well. I’m ordering one!

Which Scottish Inspiration for Life is Your Favorite?

I’m sure I’ll keep adding to this inspirational list. Every time I visit Scotland, I jot another one down. And when I read these, I hear them spoken, in my head, with a thick Scottish accent.

You can find more fun Scottish sayings HERE.

Which one of these expressions is your favorite?

Scottish Inspiration for Life Thirlestane Castle
I dreamed of seeing this castle all of my life. It didn’t go by me. I’ve been to Thirlestane Castle three times now.


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Fun Facts About Scottish Bagpipes

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Travel anywhere in Scotland and you are sure to hear the country’s signature sound…the wail of bagpipes. Pipers stand on street corners, playing for tourists. In Edinburgh, a piper always strategically occupies the corner near Princes Street Gardens and the train station.

On the Royal Mile in Old Town, pipers perform every few blocks. And if you visit gorgeous Glen Coe, in the Highlands, there’s usually a lone piper playing.

Military tattoos, weddings, funerals, celebrations and parties all feature the magical sound of bagpipes. Whether you love the sound or not, bagpipes and Scotland go together.

Check out these fun facts about Scottish bagpipes and learn something new about them.

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Fun Facts About Scottish Bagpipes

The bagpipe looks simple, in design, and yet what a complex instrument to play. And its rich history goes back centuries. Check out these fun facts.

Original Bagpipes Made of Skin

Early bagpipes were literally made from skin bags. Crafters cleaned small animal carcasses…such as goats or sheep…and turned them inside out. Pipes made from bamboo or hollow stalks were sewn into the places where the neck and limbs once existed.

Today bagpipes are fashioned from synthetic leather, plastics and metals.

March to War

The practice of piping during war began in the 1746 Battle of Culloden in Scotland, during the Jacobite uprising. Thereafter, every battle included a line of pipers that led soldiers into the fray.

During the first and second world wars, Scottish soldiers marched to the sound of bagpipes. The practice was suspended after 3000 pipers fell by German machinegun fire.

The Sound that Carries

There’s no volume control when piping. Because of that, the music from bagpipes carries for approximately ten miles. The Scots hoped to instill fear in their enemies, by playing the bagpipes.

It’s a extraordinary and moving experience to hear the lone piper playing in Glen Coe, in the Highlands. The music echoes down the long rugged valley, sending shivers down the spine. My eyes filled with tears.

Fun Facts About Scottish Bagpipes lone piper
Fun Facts About Scottish Bagpipes – lone piper in Glen Coe, in the Highlands

Scotland the Brave

The most popular bagpipe song in Scotland is “Scotland the Brave”, the unofficial Scottish anthem. Listen for the song at military celebrations, graduation parties and special events.

Other Countries Have Bagpipes Too

Scotland isn’t the only country that enjoys bagpipe music. You can find pipers in England, Ireland, Northwestern Spain, Bulgaria, the US, Canada, France, Australia and New Zealand.

The bagpipes are commonly used in police ceremonies and funerals with Amazing Grace most often played.

Queen Elizabeth Loves the Bagpipe

The Queen supposedly loves the sound of bagpipes. She prefers to wake up every morning at 9:30 to the sound of bagpipes, rather than a traditional alarm clock. A piper plays beneath her bedroom window, for about 15 minutes. Her husband, Prince Philip, didn’t appreciate the bagpipes as much.

Fun Facts About Scottish Bagpipes london piper
Fun Facts About Scottish Bagpipes – piper in London, England

Bagpipes Outlawed Twice

The British government banned piping and wearing a kilt after the 1560 Reformation in Scotland.

And after the Jacobite Uprising, bagpipes were considered war instruments. Pipers ran the risk of hanging for owning or playing bagpipes.

Bagpipes are Aerophones

Each bagpipe possesses at least one drone pipe. Once playing starts, air flows constantly through the drones, resulting in continuous notes. There are no breaks between notes. The notes between songs are called grace notes.

The piper keeps the bag full of air by blowing into with a tube or pumping it with bellows. To create music, he or she presses the bag so that the air flows through the chanter. Each drone pipe plays a different note.

Bagpipes Have a Melody Pipe

The melody pipe on a bagpipe is called the chanter. It only produces nine notes, from G to A, with no sharps or flats.

Fun Facts About Scottish Bagpipes drone and chanter pipes
Fun Facts About Scottish Bagpipes – drone and chanter pipes

National Bagpipe Day is March 10

March 10 is International Bagpipe Day and it’s the perfect time to celebrate this amazing instrument. Pipers gather around the world to play in concerts, perform in schools and entertain on street corners.

Nero Piped

A skilled piper, the tyrant Nero played often. And since fiddles didn’t exist yet when Rome burned, perhaps Nero piped instead.

Romans possibly introduced bagpipes into Scotland.

There Are 130 Kinds of Bagpipes

Around the world, 130 varieties of bagpipes exist. The Great Highland Bagpipe of Scotland sounds distinctly different from the Irish Uillean Pipe.

Fun Facts About Scottish Bagpipes - blond piper
Fun Facts About Scottish Bagpipes – piper on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh

Yea or Nay for Bagpipes?

Personally, I love the sound of bagpipes. The haunting music calls to something deep in my soul. My heart beats faster when I hear bagpipes and I feel a strong connection to that noble country. I own many CDs of bagpipe music, including several by the popular band, Red Hot Chili Pipers.

What about you? Do you enjoy bagpipe music? What’s your favorite song?

Fun Facts About Scottish Bagpipes group photo


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Ten Must See Castles in Scotland

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When you think of Scotland, what comes to mind? Bagpipes? Kilts? Castles?

If you said castles, you aren’t alone. More than 1,500 magnificent castles dot the Scottish landscape. Their various styles reflect the country’s long history. Some of these castles lie in ruins. Others are still owned and lived in by families who have held the castles for generations. And others are open to the public, for tours or even stays.

These ten must see castles in Scotland offer unique glimpses into this gorgeous country’s history and culture.

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Edinburgh Castle

Possibly the most well known castle in Scotland, this mighty fortress sits atop an extinct volcano in the heart of Old Town. Perched high above Edinburgh, the castle is the most popular paid attraction in Scotland. More than 1.5 million visitors pass through the castle gates each year, during non pandemic times. Additionally, the castle hosts the annual Military Tattoo, which takes place in the esplanade every August.

The castle is open to the public daily. Explore the grounds on your own or join a guide for an in depth tour.  View historical rooms and artifacts, including the Scottish Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny, take a peek into the dungeons or enjoy a treat in the tea room.

Easy to find, Edinburgh Castle is located at the top of the Royal Mile, in Old Town. Visit their WEBSITE for more info. And learn facts you may not know about Edinburgh Castle HERE.

Ten Must See Castles in Scotland edinburgh
Ten Must See Castles in Scotland – Edinburgh Castle

Dunrobin Castle

“Dun” is Scottish for fortress or castle. This fairytale castle is located in the Northern Highlands and it’s one of the biggest, with more than 189 rooms. The earliest parts of this historic home of the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland date back to 1275.

Resembling a French chateau, Dunrobin Castle housed a naval hospital during WWI and operated as a boys’ boarding school from 1965 until 1972. The castle and beautiful gardens are open to the public from April until the end of October. Visit their WEBSITE for tour info.

Ten Must See Castles in Scotland dunrobin
Ten Must See Castles in Scotland – Dunrobin Castle *photo by Katia De Juan, Unsplash

Eilean Donan

Another jewel in the Northern Highlands, Eilean Donan Castle is a great stop before crossing the bridge to Isle of Skye. The beautiful small castle sits on a tidal island, situated at the point where three sea lochs converge. Hundreds of thousands of visitors walk across the arched stone bridge that connects the structure to the mainland.

This highly photographed castle features in movies such as Bonnie Prince Charles, Highlander, Elizabeth and Made of Honour. It’s a popular spot for weddings and special events. The castle is open daily for tours. Check out hours HERE.

Ten Must See Castles in Scotland eilean donan
Ten Must See Castles in Scotland – Eilean Donan Castle

Dunvegan Castle

And speaking of Isle of Skye, this island has its own castle. Dunvegan is the oldest, continuously occupied castle in the Highlands. Clan MacLeod has lived here for more than 800 years.

The castle’s architecture is unique in that it contains the work of at least ten building periods, ranging from the 1200s to the 1850s. In the 1840s and 50s, the 25th Chief completed a restoration to unify the various structures. Under the updates however remains five separate buildings, each with its own character and historical stories. Visitors can enjoy a tour of the castle along with a stroll in the gardens and woods. Check out hours HERE. And learn about what to do while visiting Isle of Skye.

Ten Must See Castles in Scotland dunvegan
Ten Must See Castles in Scotland – Dunvegan Castle *photo by carina.m, Unsplash

Urquhart Castle

Located on the shores of Loch Ness, near Strone Point, this castle dates back to the 13th century. Alan Durward, son-in-law of King Alexander II built it. During its history, the English invaded it on several occasions and for a time it served as a stronghold for Robert the Bruce after he became king in 1306.

Upon his death, the castle passed back and forth between the Crown and the MacDonald Clan. In 1509 the castle passed to the Grant Clan who repaired it and brought it back into use. They added the five story tower.

In 1692 English forces blew it up to thwart the Jacobites. The ruins are cared for today by Historic Scotland and open to the public. What a great spot to watch for the famous Loch Ness Monster!

Ten Must See Castles in Scotland urquhart
Ten Must See Castles in Scotland – Urquhart Castle

Glamis Castle

Beautiful Glamis Castle, located beside the village of Glamis in Angus, Scotland, is home to the Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne. It’s witnessed thousands of years of history.

Glamis served as inspiration for Shakespeare’s MacBeth and as the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. Princess Margaret was born here. And Mary Queen of Scots spent time in Glamis. With its long and sometimes dark history, it is no wonder that Glamis Castle is considered one of the most haunted in Scotland.

Visitors may tour the castle or stay in Glamis House, on the property. More details HERE.

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Ten Must See Castles in Scotland – Glamis Castle

Stirling Castle

Located in Stirling, this castle is one of the largest and most important in the country, both historically and architecturally. It also sits atop a volcanic outcropping of rocks and guarded the River Forth crossing for centuries. Mary Queen of Scots was crowned here, at age nine months. William Wallace (Braveheart), Robert the Bruce and Bonnie Prince Charles played historical roles in Stirling Castle. And it was once the favored residence for the Stewart Kings and Queens, who held grand celebrations within the walls.

Today costumed characters make Stirling Castle an interesting place to explore while learning history. Stirling is especially wonderful for younger visitors with fun activities, a Unicorn Café and gift shops. Check their WEBSITE for tours and hours.

Ten Must See Castles in Scotland stirling
Ten Must See Castles in Scotland – Stirling Castle

Doune Castle

This medieval stronghold near the village of Doune, in the Stirling district, was originally built in the 13th century. Damaged during the Scottish Wars for Independence, Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany, rebuilt the castle in the late 14th century.

What draws so many visitors to this dual tower castle are the movies and television shows featuring Doune. It was used in the 1952 film Ivanhoe, and the 1996 adaptation as well as for Elizabeth the Golden Age. It’s the set for Winterfell from the first season of Game of Thrones and most recently Doune depicts the fictional Castle Leoch in the Outlander series. Monty Python and the Holy Grail filmed here along with the 2018 historical drama, Outlaw King.

The castle is temporarily closed to visitors at this time, while a high level masonry inspection takes place. Check the WEBSITE for an expected reopening date.

Ten Must See Castles in Scotland doune
Ten Must See Castles in Scotland – Doune Castle

Inverness Castle

This red sandstone Victorian style structure sits on a cliff overlooking the River Ness, in the city of Inverness. Defensive castles occupied this site for centuries. Many sieges took place over the years at Inverness Castle, with one of those involving Mary Queen of Scots. Reconstructions happened sporadically. The current castle was built in 1836 on the site of the original structure. Gas, light and water systems were installed for the first time.

Until recently, only a tower and the grounds allowed visitors. A new restoration project intends to transform the castle into a first class visitor attraction with more of the building open to the public and accommodations available. Stay informed through the castle’s WEBSITE.

Ten Must See Castles in Scotland inverness
Ten Must See Castles in Scotland – Inverness Castle

Thirlestane Castle

I conclude with my favorite castle in Scotland. Located in the Scottish Borders, near the village of Lauder, Thirlestane Castle is home to my Scottish kin, Clan Maitland.

Maitlands originally occupied a tower, built in the 1400s, near the present location of the castle. In 1586 John Maitland, Lord Thirlestane, bought land just outside the village of Lauder. The large house built in 1590, with its corner towers and turrets, now forms the core of the present castle.

The Duke of Lauderdale remodeled and expanded Thirlestane in the 1670s, adding on wings and creating a new front entrance. The ninth earl added more wings, to the south and north, and installed modern living accommodations.  However, by the 1840s the grand old castle showed signs of age and decay.

In 1972 the castle passed to the grandson of the 15th Earl, Capt. Gerald Maitland-Carew. He assumed the huge task of restoring the castle and preventing further deterioration. He also opened the castle to the public and created the on site café and tea room. Eventually the castle and its contents became a part of a charitable trust that brought in much needed funds to help with the upkeep of the gorgeous structure. The Maitland-Carew family occupy one wing of the castle as their personal residence.

Gerald’s son Edward Maitland-Carew and his wife Sarah now continue the care of Thirlestane Castle, which is open for tours. They host events such as weddings, car shows and outdoor plays, and created five apartments for guests to lease for short term stays. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Thirlestane Castle three times…so far. And I’ve met the current caretakers, Edward and Sarah. Someday, I’ll return for a stay at Thirlestane. I highly recommend a visit to this beautiful castle in the Borders.

Your Favorite Scottish Castle

Have you visited this magnificent country? If so, have you seen any of these castles?

Or perhaps you have another to add to the list. What is your favorite Scottish Castle?

Ten Must See Castles in Scotland thirlestane and clan maitland
Thirlestane Castle and members of Clan Maitland


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Why You Should Visit Pitlochry Scotland

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While I dearly love Edinburgh, Scotland, there are so many beautiful cities, villages and areas in the country to visit. I haven’t covered every square mile of Scotland during my travels there. However, I have explored from the Borders in the south to the wild Scottish Highlands in the north.

One town that immediately snagged my heart is Pitlochry. My cousins and I enjoyed an afternoon in this charming Victorian town in 2014. We loved our time there.

If you wonder why you should visit Pitlochry Scotland, read on!

Pitlochry Scotland

This town of 3000 people sits right in the middle of the country, at the gateway to the Highlands.

Pitlochry developed into a popular tourist stop after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited the area in 1842 and bought a highland estate at Balmoral. The arrival of the railway in 1863 contributed to its popularity as well. The quaint town continues as a tourist destination today and is known for the Pitlochry Festival Theatre, salmon ladder and as a location for hillwalking.

Pitlochry is also famous for its plants and flowers that are evident throughout the town.

Why You Should Visit Pitlochry Scotland downtown
Why You Should Visit Pitlochry Scotland – Victorian town

Why You Should Visit Pitlochry Scotland

Check out these reasons for spending a day…or a week…in beautiful Pitlochry.

*Note…I visited this area just as I began my blogging journey. I did NOT take enough photos at that time, unfortunately.

The Town Oozes Charm

Always my favorite way to explore, walking the streets of Pitlochry is a wonderful way to get to know the town. Small shops and restaurants line the streets. Victorian houses share space with stone buildings. And in every small patch of ground and hanging basket flowers bloom.

I was delighted with everything I saw. My cousin Mindy remarked that Pitlochry is the “Eureka Springs of Scotland”, referring to the equally charming town in Arkansas.

We found a lovely tea house, Mackenzie’s, for afternoon tea.

Why You Should Visit Pitlochry Scotland afternoon tea
Why You Should Visit Pitlochry Scotland – afternoon tea

Take In the Queen’s View

Named after Queen Victoria, The Queen’s View overlooks Loch Tummel and part of Tay Forest Park. There are many hiking trails in the area. And a visitor center with a cafe at the peak for refreshments after the three mile walk to the View.

One of the Oldest Distilleries in Scotland is Here

Explore Blair Athol Distillery, one of the oldest working distilleries in Scotland. Located at the foothills of the Grampian Mountains, Blair Athol’s ancient source of water – the Allt Dour – contributes to the whisky’s mellow and smooth finish. Take a tour, enjoying an educational guided walk through the distillery, as well a delicious dram of Blair Athol Single Malt Whisky.

Why You Should Visit Pitlochry Scotland
Why You Should Visit Pitlochry Scotland – flowers everywhere

There’s an Enchanted Forest Event Every October

Faskally Wood, within the Tay Forest Park, is home to a wide range of tree species, some more than 200 years old. It also hosts the popular Enchanted Forest event  in October each year.

This multi-award winning show combines creative talents and nature to create an outdoor experience that ignites the imagination.

Amid dazzling visuals and an original musical score, visitors experience a light show that is out of this world.

Learn About Plants at the Explorer’s Garden

At the Pitlochry Festival Theatre, learn the stories of the brave men who risked their lives travelling the globe to find new plants and trees for cultivation and conservation. Tour the gardens, visit the exhibition that celebrates Modern Scottish Plant Hunters, or participate in workshops including Scottish Gin Tasting, Tea Tasting and How to Grow a Meconopsis.

Why You Should Visit Pitlochry Scotland plants
Why You Should Visit Pitlochry Scotland – learn about plants

You Can Explore the Atholl Palace Museum

Located in the former servant’s wing, the Atholl Palace Museum leads visitors through the colorful history of the Atholl Palace Hotel,  from its opening in 1878 to reopening after World War II. Discover intriguing tales, learn about Victorian history, and explore audio dramas, short films, a games area that brings this fascinating place to life.

See Black Spout Wood Waterfall

if you love the energy of waterfalls, don’t miss this one. Walk south from Pitlochry town center through the Black Spout Wood to a platform that offers spectacular views of the falls.

Why You Should Visit Pitlochry Scotland woods
Why You Should Visit Pitlochry Scotland – woods and mountains surrounding Pitlochry

Visit the Home of Scotland’s Most Awarded Chocolatier

Experience the unique flavor combinations of the international award-winning Velvet Truffles by Iain Burnett, the Highland Chocolatier.

Enjoy a gourmet tasting flight of five chocolates, experience the delights in the Chocolate Lounge and end the visit with a stop by the gift shop.

Watch Salmon Jump Up Specially Built Ladders

Pitlochry Hydroelectric Dam is close to the town center. Because it blocks the River Tummel…and the salmon who swim upstream to breed…a series of 37 constructed pools create a ladder for the fish to leap into. Once they reach the top pool they are able to continue upstream .

There’s also a visitor center and cafe on site at the dam.

Pitlochry Festival Theatre is a Unique Phenomenon

The mission of Pitlochry Festival Theatre is to bring Pitlochry to the world and the world to Pitlochry.

The theatre accomplishes this by creating performances that excite, engage and challenge. It seeks to inspire imagination, adventure and a sense of belonging and to nurture an environment in which the performers, audiences and the community can connect and grow together.

During the summer season the theatre performs six shows, all of which are played in daily rotation. That means attendees can see a different show every day.

Visit Pitlochry

Have I convinced you to visit this beautiful little town, the next time you are in Scotland? I’ve convinced myself! I look forward to a return visit and further explorations during an extended stay.

Have you visited Pitlochry, Scotland?

Why You Should Visit Pitlochry Scotland house


Scottish Finds from Amazon:

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Ghost Stories from Glasgow

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It’s the second Friday in October and time for the next post in the ghost story series. Last week the spooky tales hailed from Charleston.

This week we cross the sea to the ancient city of Glasgow, in Scotland. Founded in the 6th century, on the River Clyde, the burgh grew to become Scotland’s capital city.  Today it features amazing architecture, a bustling art community and a thriving night life. Young adults hitting the pubs aren’t the only ones active at night. Check out these ghost stories from Glasgow for a peek into the city’s dark side.

Ghost Stories from Glasgow title meme

World’s Friendliest City

Voted the World’s Friendliest City, Glasgow is indeed a fun, inviting city. I’ve visited twice. While there I love listening to the locals and chatting with them about their city.

Due to its age and long history, the city doesn’t lack ghostly locations with things that go bump in the night.

The Necropolis

Called the “city of the dead”, the Necropolis is a sprawling Victorian cemetery located behind Glasgow Cathedral. It is the final resting place for more than 50,000 people. Wandering among the creepy statues, gothic tombs and elaborate mausoleums, it’s not difficult to imagine all manner of ghosts hiding here.

The Woman in White floats among the tombstones in the wee hours of the night, just before darkness gives way to morning light. People claim to see her and hear her murmurs as she passes by.

In addition to a low lying mist that often appears at night, visitors also report disembodied whispers coming from graves and mausoleums. Professional ghost hunters caught the apparition of a child next to a grave when they live streamed their visit to the Necropolis online. And some claim to witness statues in the cemetery changing their facial expressions. Don’t blink! (Doctor Who reference)

Ghost Stories from Glasgow necropolis
Ghost Stories from Glasgow – the Necropolis

Cathedral House Hotel

Across from the Necropolis sits the Cathedral House Hotel. Built in 1887 as a hostel for inmates, it housed prisoners released from nearby Duke Street Penitentiary, where some of Scotland’s worst criminals were incarcerated.

Today the building is a boutique hotel and considered one of the most haunted places in Glasgow.

Duke Street Penitentiary executed many of its inmates. It’s believed that some of those restless spirits haunt Cathedral House Hotel, including the last women hanged at the prison in 1923, Susan Newell.

Visitors report a presence on the stairs that brushes up against them and a mischievous boy who disappears into the wall in the pub downstairs. Others hear ghost children running and playing in the attic. One story suggests that a woman released from prison was reunited with her two children. Distraught and fearful, the woman supposedly drowned her children in one of the hostel’s bathtubs. It may be her children who haunt the top floor.

Furniture and other items in the hotel appear to move on their own.

Ghost Stories from Glasgow cathedral house hotel
Ghost Stories from Glasgow – Cathedral house Hotel

Glasgow Royal Infirmary

This hospital has continuously cared for the sick and dying in Glasgow for 227 years. Most hospitals contain spirits. The Royal Infirmary is no exception. Even the doctors and nurses can’t explain away the supernatural occurrences there.

The most documented stories from the infirmary include the following:

The Floating Sister at first appears as a staff member making her rounds…until one realizes she’s only visible from the knees up. It’s thought the ghost is walking along on an older floor that has since been removed.

Archie the Whisperer haunts ward 27 at the infirmary. He appears at the bedside of dying patients, an elderly man wearing a hair bun.

The Grey Lady walks silently down hallways and disappears through doors.

And a very recent story tells of a doctor responding to a call to help a man who suffered a heart attack. As the doctor approached the patient’s room, a man asked him for directions on how to exit the hospital. The doctor pointed him in the right direction and continued to the patient’s room. There he discovered the patient already dead…and that he was the same man the doctor had just given directions to.

Ghost Stories from Glasgow infirmary
Ghost Stories from Glasgow – Royal Infirmary

Provan Hall

Provan Hall, in Glasgow’s east end, is one of the city’s most paranormally active locations. Built in the 15th century as a hunting lodge for the bishops of Glasgow, the hall hosted historical guests including Mary Queen of Scots and King James V. It houses some well documented ghosts as well.

The Man with the Dagger haunts the main bedroom in the hall. In the 19th century this man returned home after two years at war to find his wife had given birth to a child. In a rage, he killed both and continues to angrily stalk the room.

Reston Mather is the last private owner of the house. He most commonly lurks on the staircase, sporting a white beard and wearing a black bowler hat and dark clothes. He died of breathing difficulties and paranormal investigators report feeling breathless on the stairs.

The upper floor of Provan Hall is haunted by the ghosts of a woman and a young boy who died there. People report seeing them peering from the upstairs windows as they walk by.

Ghost Stories from Glasgow provan hall
Ghost Stories from Glasgow – Provan Hall

Theatre Royal

Theatre Royal on Hope Street is the oldest theatre in Glasgow. It originally opened as the Royal Colosseum and Opera House in 1867 and shortly after, renamed itself the Theatre Royal Glasgow. Although burned in the fire of 1875, the building was restored.

Nora, a cleaning woman and would be actress, is the theatre’s most famous ghost. After begging for an audition from the theatre manager, Nora failed to realize her dream. In fact, they laughed her off the stage. She jumped to her death from an upper balcony in the theatre . People report hearing moaning, crying and doors banging shut from the upper circle and sensing a presence up there. Objects move about. A lone workman suffered a hit to the head from a hammer while working in the roof area in 2006.

Another oft sighted ghost is that of a fireman who died in an electrical fire at the theatre in 1969. He appears wearing his dated uniform, staring at musicians in the orchestra pit. The fireman ghost stirs up activity in the basement also, tormenting workers there and moving tools.

Ghost Stories from Glasgow theatre
Ghost Stories from Glasgow – Theatre Royal

The October Ghost Series

Although I’ve visited Glasgow twice, spending several nights there the first time and one night the second, I do not have any paranormal experiences of my own to share. I do sense interesting, watchful energy in the Necropolis. You won’t find me wandering there in the dark of night! Perhaps on my next visit, I’ll spend a night at the Cathedral House Hotel.

Have you visited Glasgow, Scotland? Did you experience any hauntings?

Check back each Friday in October, for a new set of ghost stories from different cities.

Necropolis grave
Not a sight you want to see in the Necropolis!

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Ten Facts You May Not Know About Edinburgh Castle

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Perched high above Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress that’s occupied Castle Rock since the 12th century. It’s had a long and colorful history throughout the centuries.

Currently the castle is the most popular paid attraction in Scotland. More than 1.5 million visitors pass through the castle gates each year. Additionally, the castle hosts the annual Military Tattoo, which takes place in the esplanade every August.

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Edinburgh Castle twice. There is always something new to learn about this imposing fortress.

Check out these ten facts you many not know about Edinburgh Castle.

Ten Facts You May Not Know About Edinburgh Castle title meme

Most Besieged Place in Europe

Edinburgh Castle squared off against hostile forces a remarkable 23 times!

Notable sieges include the Longshanks Siege of 1296 when Edward I plundered the castle and sent its treasures to London. And during the Lang Siege, a government resistance from 1571 – 73, the castle declared its support for Mary Queen of Scots.

The last siege occurred during the Jacobite Rising in 1745, when Bonny Prince Charlie tried to take the fortress. He failed.

Sits Atop a Volcano

The volcanic explosion that created Castle Rock occurred millions of years ago.  Archaeological evidence shows that humans settled on the rock around 850 BC.

Builders constructed the castle in the 12th century, over the plug of the volcano’s vent.

Ten Facts You May Not Know About Edinburgh Castle rock
Ten facts you may not know about Edinburgh Castle – castle rock was once a volcano

The Castle is Haunted

It’s no surprise that this ancient structure claims to house a few ghosts. After all, the city of Edinburgh is considered one of the most haunted places in the world.

When tunnels were discovered beneath the castle and the Royal Mile, a young piper entered the passages, playing his bagpipes as he walked. Above ground, people tracked his progress by following the sound of the pipes. Suddenly, the pipes fell silent about half way down the Mile. Rescuers searched the tunnels but never found the piper. Today the faint sound of his bagpipes occasionally echoes through the tunnels beneath the castle and the Royal Mile.

In the castle dungeons, watch for the headless drummer boy who haunts that area. Other mysterious occurrences include misty figures that appear, sudden drops in temperature and invisible hands that tug at clothing and hair.

Oldest Building in Scotland

Due to battles in and around the castle, most sections have been destroyed and rebuilt. However, St Margaret’s Chapel remains intact, making it the oldest building in the country.

Queen Margaret married Scottish King Malcolm III around 1070. She was considered a good woman who cared about others. When Malcolm died in battle, Margaret died of a broken heart, a few days later. Their son, David I, built the chapel to honor his mother.

When Robert the Bruce captured the castle in 1314, it’s the only structure he spared.

Ten Facts You May Not Know About Edinburgh Castle St Margarets
Ten facts you may not know about Edinburgh Castle – St Margaret’s chapel is the oldest building

The Castle Grounds Contain a Dog Cemetery

Tucked into a garden, visible from the Argyle Battery, is a canine cemetery. This small patch of ground is dedicated to the dogs of the Scottish battalions. There lies Jess, the mascot of the Black Watch 42nd Highlanders and Dobbler, who accompanied the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders from  Sri Lanka to South Africa.

The dogs buried here are honored for their loyalty and service. Visitors cannot enter the cemetery however it can be viewed from above.

Time Keeping Gun

Since 1861, a gun fired from the castle grounds allowed sailors passing by in the Firth of Forth to adjust their chronometers to the correct time. Indeed, the whole city could set their clocks and watches by the castle gun.

Although no longer needed today by sailors, the ritual is now a tradition. The gun is fired daily at 1:00 pm, much to the delight of visitors.

Ten Facts You May Not Know About Edinburgh Castle gun
Today the gun is an L118 Light Gun, put into use in 2001.

An Elephant Once Lived at the Castle

In 1838, the 78th Highlanders returned to Edinburgh with an elephant. The elephant lived in the castle stables while his comrades lived in the barracks. He marched at the head of the band in regimental parades and developed a fondness for beer.

It’s told that the elephant reached into the canteen each night, for a beer before retiring. The memorial to the 78th Highlanders, on display in the esplanade, features an elephant carved into a stone at the foot of a Celtic cross.

The Scottish Crown Jewels Were Hidden Too Well in the Castle

Known as the Honours of Scotland, the Crown, the Sceptre and the Sword of State were used in Scottish coronations. However, after Scotland and England united under one crown in 1707, the Honours were locked into a chest for safe keeping and hidden away in the castle.

A hundred years passed and the location of the crown jewels was forgotten.

A party of searchers, that included Sir Walter Scott, found the chest in 1818. The Honours are on display again, in a protected room in the castle.

Sculpture depicting the crown jewels
Ten facts you may not know about Edinburgh Castle – the crown jewels were hidden away…and it took 100 years to find them again.

University of Edinburgh Students Will Not Enter the Gates

There’s a story told down through the years that if a University of Edinburgh student enters the castle gates, he or she will fail their final exam.

While it’s just a legend, many students are unwilling to visit the castle while studying at the university. They prefer to wait until they graduate!

The Castle Dungeons Held Many Prisoners of War

Edinburgh Castle dungeons housed at least 1,000 prisoners in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Prisoners from the Seven Years’ War, the American War of Independence and the Napoleonic Wars all occupied the dungeons.

Interestingly, 21 pirates of the Caribbean were found guilty of piracy and held there while awaiting execution. They were hung off the coast of Leith.

Ten Facts You May Not Know About Edinburgh Castle dungeoons
Ten facts you may not know about Edinburgh Castle – the dungeons held more than 1000 prisoners over the years.

Visit Edinburgh Castle

I enjoyed both of my visits to the castle. As one with Scottish DNA, it is a moving experience for me. There’s so much history and many stories to absorb while wandering that large complex.

The castle is open again and welcoming visitors from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm. Tickets MUST be purchased in advance through their website.

You can explore the grounds on your own or join a guide for an in depth tour. There’s a wonderful tea house on the grounds along with a cafe.

Any trip to Edinburgh, for those new to the city, should include a stop at Edinburgh Castle. Located at the top of the Royal Mile, the castle is impossible to miss. In fact, one of the things that I love about Edinburgh is stopping occasionally as I wander to orient myself by locating the castle. It’s a symbol of the city and therefore, significant to me.

Have you been to Edinburgh Castle? Did you learn something new about that fortress?

Me with the castle behind me
The castle behind me.

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Top Ten Places to Visit in Glasgow

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Glasgow, Scotland. It began as an industrial city on the River Clyde and transitioned into the cultural center of Scotland. While Edinburgh is the country’s capital, Glasgow is known for its Victorian and art nouveau architecture, and a rich legacy due to trade and shipbuilding.

Glasgow is home to the Scottish Opera, Scottish Ballet and National Theatre of Scotland. Additionally the grand old city boasts acclaimed museums and a thriving music industry.

While Edinburgh feels like home to me, I’d consider Glasgow the high energy weekend getaway city. Glasgow possesses a larger nightlife, with more night clubs, bars and pubs.

When planning a trip to Scotland, check out this exciting city and these top ten places to visit in Glasgow.

Top Ten Places to Visit in Glasgow title meme

A Few Things to Know Before You Go

Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and the fourth largest in the UK. The people of Glasgow are Glaswegians. And don’t get off on the wrong foot by mispronouncing the city’s name. Glasgow is pronounced glaz – go. The word means “green hollow”.

Glasgow is a big sports city, with two major league football (soccer) clubs and a rugby club.

Add these top ten places to visit in Glasgow to your list of must see sites.

Glasgow Cathedral

This 12th century cathedral is also called St. Mungo Cathedral and the High Kirk (church) of Glasgow. It is the oldest cathedral in mainland Scotland and the oldest building in Glasgow.

The cathedral has never been unroofed and the medieval structure has continuously offered services within its walls for more than 800 years. The cathedral contains the finest collection of stained glass windows in Britain.

Beneath the cathedral lies the crypt, which predates the structure above it. The crypt houses the tomb of Saint Mungo, buried there in the 7th century.

Top Ten Places to Visit in Glasgow Cathedral
Top ten places to visit in Glasgow – Glasgow Cathedral


Near the Cathedral is the Necropolis, a gothic Victorian cemetery that covers 37 acres. It is nicknamed the “city of the dead”. More than 50,000 Glaswegians are buried here, in the cemetery based on the famous Paris Pere Lachaise cemetery.

Burials began in 1832. There are 3,500 memorial stones and structures in the cemetery and also sculptures and buildings. It is an atmospheric place to walk among the monuments, with beautiful views of the Cathedral and the city.

Top Ten Places to Visit in Glasgow Necropolis
Top ten places to visit in Glasgow – Necropolis

George Square

This square lies at the heart of the city. It features 12 statues of famous people associated with Glasgow, including Robbie Burns, Walter Scott and Queen Victoria. Town Hall dominates the east end of the square, with it 230 foot tower.

Just south of George Square lies the merchant district, a trendy area offering a host of unique cafes, restaurants and boutique shops.

Top Ten Places to Visit in Glasgow George Square
Top ten places to visit in Glasgow – George Square

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

In Glasgow’s West End lies a neighborhood of cafes, restaurants, high end shops, beautiful hotels…and the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Since its opening in 1901, Kelvingrove offers fine collections of paintings including Van Gogh’s portrait of Glaswegian art collector Alexander Reid.

Other exhibits include Scottish archeological finds such as Bronze Age tools and jewelry, weapons from the 15th and 16th centuries and Flemish tapestries.

Top Ten Places to Visit in Glasgow Kelvingrove Art Gallery
Top ten places to visit in Glasgow – Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Glasgow Science Centre

The Science Centre, located near the Riverside Museum, is a popular place for families to gather. This hands-on centre, housed in a modern looking titanium clad structure, contains many exhibits and stations where kids…and adults…can learn.

The Science Centre also offers a planetarium, Imax theater and a science theater, where talks and lectures are regularly presented. And finally, check out the Glasgow Tower, the tallest freely rotating tower in the world.

Top Ten Places to Visit Glasgow Science Centre
Top ten places to visit in Glasgow – Science Centre

Riverside Museum and Tall Ship

This award winning museum includes exhibits from the city’s former Transport Museum. Exhibits include model ships, trams, locomotives, vintage cars and horse drawn carriages, most of which were Glasgow built.

The Tall Ship, docked outside, gives visitors a chance to explore the Glenlee, a restored three mast ship, also built in Glasgow.

Top Ten Places to Visit in Glasgow Riverside Museum
Top ten places to visit in Glasgow – Riverside Museum and Tall Ship

Buchanan Street

Buchanan Street is one of the main shopping thoroughfares in Glasgow. It forms the core of Glasgow’s famous shopping district with its upscale shops. Buchanan Galleries, what we in the US would call a mall, houses 80 retail stores. There are also many cafes and restaurants available along Buchanan Street, when shoppers need a break.

The street is named after a famous Glaswegian merchant, Andrew Buchanan, a successful tobacco plantation owner.

Top Ten Places to Visit in Glasgow Buchanan Street
Top ten places to visit in Glasgow – Buchanan Street

Kibble Palace and Glasgow Botanical Gardens

Kibble Palace, built in 1873, is one of the largest glasshouses in the UK. It houses rare orchids, tree ferns from Australia and New Zealand, and plants from Africa, the Americas and the Far East.

The glass palace is part of the Glasgow Botanical Gardens, where visitors explore extensive grounds and greenhouses and appreciate Victorian sculptures. There is also a garden tearoom to enjoy.

Top Ten Places to Visit in Glasgow Kibble Palace
Top ten places to visit in Glasgow – Kibble Palace and Glasgow Botanical Gardens

Gallery of Modern Art

Also called GoMA, this Romanesque building offers a changing roster of exhibits featuring local and international artists. Workshops and lectures take place here too.

Look for a traffic cone on the head of the equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington in front of the gallery. It’s a playfully irreverent Glaswegian attitude on display. Local authorities don’t even attempt to remove the cone anymore.

Top Ten Places to Visit in Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art
Top ten places to visit in Glasgow – Gallery of Modern Art

Glasgow Green and the People’s Palace

Established in 1662, Glasgow Green is the oldest park in the city. It’s an easy walk to the park, from George Square.

One of the park’s main attractions is the People’s Palace, a museum built in 1898 that tells Glasgow’s story, from 1750 to the 20th century.

In the Winter Garden, a large conservatory located at the back of the palace, find a collection of tropical and subtropical plants. And the Doulton Fountain is the world’s largest terracotta fountain. Built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, the fountain is 46 feet high and 70 feet across.

Top Ten Places to Visit in Glasgow Green
Top ten places to visit in Glasgow – Glasgow Green and the People’s Palace

Bonus Attraction

I love the lively spirit that pervades Glasgow. The people are friendly and very willing to talk about their love for their city. Although I didn’t make it to Glasgow on my most recent trip to Scotland, I’ve visited the city twice. As with Edinburgh, there is always more that I want to do and see when I visit. That just means I need to make more trips to Scotland!

One last bonus attraction awaits, for lovers of the British television series Doctor Who. If you are a fan, this spot, located near the Glasgow Cathedral, needs no explanation. I’ve taken a photo here twice. My last visit is documented below.

Which of these top ten places to visit in Glasgow are on your travel list? Or if you’ve visited this magical city, which ones did you see?

Top Ten Places to Visit in Glasgow police box
Is it the TARDIS?

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Ten Scottish Superstitions

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Superstition is defined as a belief or practice that’s not necessarily based in science. Instead, it’s a magical belief, a supernatural influence or a practice that’s passed down through generations.

I had fun researching good luck traditions in Italy and Ireland. When it came time to look at Scotland, I quickly realized superstition was a better word. Truthfully, most families hold to generational superstitions. Throwing spilled salt over the shoulder, not walking under ladders, knocking on wood or not opening an umbrella indoors are all superstitions I learned about in my family.

Scottish superstitions are deeply rooted. After all, Scotland is home to the Loch Ness monster and the country’s national animal is the unicorn. Magic abounds in Scotland as do fun superstitions.

Check out these ten Scottish superstitions and see how many you recognize or practice in your family.

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May Morning Dew

On the first day of May, each year, Scottish women seek out the early morning dew. Applied to the skin, May morning dew becomes the ultimate moisturizer.

This practice harkens back to the ancient festival of Beltane. May dew is holy water. The druids thought of it as a source of beauty, vitality and good fortune.

In recent years, not as many women collect May dew. However, some Scottish women still rise with the sun to dab this elixir on their faces, hoping for a year of beautiful complexion.

Ten Scottish Superstitions may dew
Ten Scottish Superstitions – May morning dew

Black Sheep

The well known saying, “black sheep of the family”, originates from a traditional superstition among Scottish farmers and shepherds. The color black, long associated with Satan, means the birth of a black lamb foretells disaster for the rest of the flock.

Twin lambs, with black faces, indicates a poor lambing season ahead.

Ten Scottish Superstitions black sheep
Ten Scottish Superstitions – black sheep


Many Halloween traditions originate from the Celtic festival of Samhain. During Samhain, the Scots believe the veil between this world and the spirit world grows thin, allowing spirits to more easily pass through.

The Celts practice guising, putting on disguises, to pass unrecognized among the spirits. They also offer food as an appeasement, a forerunner of today’s trick or treating.

Ten Scottish Superstitions guises
Ten Scottish Superstitions – guising

White Heather

Purple heather covers the Scottish hills and mountains, blooming in early summer and again in late summer/early fall. The less common white heather, considered a lucky talisman, is worn by grooms on their wedding days.

The traditions comes from the folktale of Malvina, whose lover Oscar dies in battle. Before his death he asks his messenger to deliver a sprig of purple heather to Malvina, as a symbol of his eternal love.

Malvina weeps, her tears falling on the heather, which turns white in response. She proclaims, “May the white heather, symbol of my sorrow, bring good fortune to all who find it.”

Ten Scottish Superstitions white heather
Ten Scottish Superstitions – white heather

Birth of a Baby

Up until the 1950s, Scottish midwives attended the home birth of babies. They performed rituals, to ease the birthing process. The midwife unlocks doors and windows and ensures that no one in the house sits with arms or legs crossed, all to help a new baby into the world.

Ten Scottish Superstitions - baby
Ten Scottish Superstitions – new baby


Another tradition connected to babies is handselling. A piece of silver, placed into the palm of a newborn, determines her future relationship with money.

If the baby grabs the silver item tightly, she will become frugal with her finances. And if she drops the silver quickly, she is destined to spend her money freely.

Ten Scottish Superstitions silver key
Ten Scottish Superstitions – handselling

Rowan Tree

The Scots plant rowan trees, with their bright red berries, on their properties to ward off evil. This tree is sacred to the Celts. It protects from all mischievous spirits and the “evil eye”. Plus, cooked rowan berries offer special properties for pregnant women. They protect the unborn baby.

Ten Scottish Superstitions rowan tree
Ten Scottish Superstitions – rowan tree

Fishing Boats

The fishing villages in the Outer Hebrides and Fife have strict traditions. If a fisherman passes a minister or a red haired girl, it’s a bad omen. The fisherman might choose to stay ashore that day.

He also won’t say the words “pig” or “rabbit” while onboard his ship. Both bring bad luck. Instead, if mention of these animals enter the conversation, they go by “curly tail” or “bob tail”.

Ten Scottish Superstitions - fishing
Ten Scottish Superstitions – fishing boats

Shoes on the Table

In Scotland, don’t put shoes on a table. This superstition actually comes from England. After a miner’s death, his boots rested on a table, as a show of respect.

Eventually, placing shoes on a table invited death to come, to the individual or his family. This tradition spread to Scotland.

Ten Scottish Superstitions shoes
Ten Scottish Superstitions – no shoes on the table. The bed is okay.

First Footing

First footing takes place immediately after the clock strikes twelve, on New Year’s Eve…or Hogmanay. According to tradition, the first person through the door, after midnight, should be a dark haired man bearing gifts of salt, whisky, shortbread, coal or a black bun. This dark haired man brings good luck to the household with him too.

It’s bad luck for a blond man to enter the house during first footing, as he is associated with the Vikings from ancient times, who were NOT welcome. After the first footing, anyone is allowed to enter, to exchange gifts and share food and drink.

Ten Scottish Superstitions dark haired man
Ten Scottish Superstitions – first footing

Do You Practice Any Superstitions?

Do you and your family practice any superstitions? Which ones passed down through the generations in your family?

I didn’t realize, until I did the research for this post, that “black sheep of the family” originated in Scotland. I’ll most definitely keep my shoes on the floor. And with the month of May approaching, I intend to collect morning dew from my garden, for my complexion.

I hope you enjoyed this peek into Scottish culture. It’s fun to learn about other countries and their peoples through their cultures, traditions and superstitions.

Check out Italy’s Good Luck Traditions and The Luck of the Irish posts too.


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Learn About Isle of Skye

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Have you heard of Isle of Skye? This beautifully rugged island off the northwest coast of Scotland is known for it picturesque landscapes, fishing villages and Highland sheep and cows. It’s the largest island in the Inner Hebrides archipelago. The coastline features peninsulas, narrow lochs and craggy cliffs, all radiating out from a mountainous center.

Skye connects to Scotland by way of the Skye Bridge and the Malaig – Armadale Ferry.

Those are the bare facts. There’s so much more to know. Come with me, over the sea, and learn about Isle of Skye and the magic that waits there for you.

Learn About Isle of Skye title meme

Watch Out for Sheep

More sheep than people call Isle of Skye home. Approximately 100,000 sheep roam the island, compared to a population of 10,000 people. Walking, hiking or driving, one must give way occasionally to herds of sheep as they cross a path or road. You can find the shaggy Highland coo wandering about too.

And another well known animal originated here. The Skye Terrier was initially bred as an exterminator on the island in the 16th century. Greyfriars Bobby is the most famous Skye Terrier.

Learn About Isle of Skye sheep
Learn About Isle of Skye – sheep outnumber people. Photo by Liam Riby on Unsplash.

Capital City

Portree, the capital of Skye, is also the largest town with 2300 inhabitants. Colorful houses line a harbor fringed by high cliffs. The tiny town began life as a fishing village early in the 19th century. Its name, Portree, is Gaelic for “Port on the Slope”.

Learn About Isle of Skye Portree
Learn About Isle of Skye – Portree

What’s In a Name

I’m always interested in word origins and the meanings behind names. Skye comes from the Norse words ski meaning “cloud” and ey meaning “island”. The island’s  history includes times of Pictish, Celtic and Norse rule.

I like the poetry of the literal name, “cloud island”.

Learn About Isle of Skye Glenbrittle
Learn About Isle of Skye – “Cloud Island”

Jurassic Park

Even earlier inhabits once occupied the island, back in the Middle Jurassic Age. Near Staffin, dinosaur footprints trail along the beach. Visible during low tide, these prints belong to the herbivorous ornithopods. Other footprints belonging to sauropods are located in nearby Brother’s Point.

Recently, however, new footprints connect to the fiercest of dinosaurs, meat eaters! This new series of prints, also discovered at Brother’s Point, belong to bipedal carnivores, smaller, older cousins of the T-Rex.

Stop by the Staffin Dinosaur Museum and then head out to find the tracks.

Learn About Isle of Skye dinosaur footprint
Learn About Isle of Skye – dinosaurs walked here

Oldest Continuously Occupied Castle in the Highlands

Isle of Skye is home to Dunvegan Castle, the only Highland fortress continuously occupied by the same family for 800 years. Located one mile north of the village of Dunvegan, the castle is the seat of Clan MacLeod and home to the Chief.

The castle’s architecture is unique in that it contains the work of at least ten building periods, ranging from the 1200s to the 1850s. In the 1840s and 50s, the 25th Chief completed a restoration to unify the various structures. Under the updates however remains five separate buildings, each with its own character and historical stories.

Learn About Isle of Skye Dunvegan Castle
Learn About Isle of Skye – Dunvegan Castle

Eternal Beauty

Skye is a magical place, full of history and stories. One legend says that if you stick your face in the water under Old Sligachan Bridge for seven seconds and let the water dry naturally, eternal beauty is yours.

The story goes that a mighty female warrior on Skye named Scathach fought Ireland’s favorite warrior Cu Chulainn for weeks and weeks. Scathach’s daughter grew tired of the battle. She journeyed to the Sligachan River, eyes filled with tears, and begged for the fighting to stop. The faeries heard her and instructed her to place her face in the water for seven seconds and she’d find her solution.

She did. The daughter prepared a wonderful feast. The smell of the food caused Scathach and Cu Chulainn to stop fighting. As a guest dining in Scathach’s home, Cu Chulain could do no harm to the host, ever. Because of the tears of love that spilled into the river, anyone who places their face in the water receives eternal beauty.

Learn About Isle of Skye waterfall
Learn About Isle of Skye – eternal beauty

Old Man of Storr

One of Isle of Skye’s most popular hikes takes the adventurer to Old Man of Storr, a magnificent pinnacle of rock in the northern part of the island.

The name comes from another ancient story. The old man of Storr was a giant who lived in Trotternish Ridge, an area in the north. He eventually died and when buried, his thumb and hand protruded from the ground, creating the famous jagged rock formation.

Learn About Isle of Skye Old Man of Storr
Learn About Isle of Skye – Old Man of Storr. Photo by Anna Jahn on Unsplash.

Speaking Gaelic

Until recently, Skye contained the largest Gaelic speaking population in Scotland. Through the 1900s, 90% of the residents of Skye spoke Gaelic. Although that percentage is much lower now, efforts to preserve the language are underway.


Learn About Isle of Skye mountain
Learn About Isle of Skye – Gaelic still learned here. Photo by Morgane Le Breton on Unsplash

Fairy Pools

One of Skye’s most popular destinations is the series of pools and waterfalls in Glenbrittle. Known as the Fairy Pools, these rock pools of clear spring water draw many hikers.

Glenbrittle is a valley through which River Glenbrittle flows. Many tributaries run down from the nearby mountains and into the glen (valley), including a stream of cascading waterfalls that form the Fairy Pools. The adventurous can swim in the pools although a wet suit is recommended. The water is icy cold.

Learn About Isle of Skye Fairy Pools
Learn About Isle of Skye – Fairy Pools

Popular Filming Location

Due to its beautiful landscapes, Skye is a popular filming location. Movies such as MacBeth, Stardust, King Arthur Legend of the Sword, The BFG, Transformers: The Last Knight and Snow White and the Huntsman all shot scenes on Skye.

Learn About Isle of Skye The BFG
Learn About Isle of Skye – popular filming location

Bonnie Prince Charlie

The famous Skye Boat Song, which serves as the theme song for Outlander, owes its origins to a young Highland woman. Fiona MacDonald risked her life to aid Bonnie Prince Charlie after he fled in defeat from the 1746 Battle of Culloden.

While hunters searched throughout the Highlands, Jacobite supporters created a plan to smuggle the Prince to Skye. Fiona agreed to help by disguising Prince Charles as an Irish maid and conducting him to Skye. They sailed “over the sea to Skye” with the Prince dressed in a calico gown, quilted petticoats and a headdress to cover his face. The Prince eventually escaped to France.

For her part in the plot, Fiona spent time in the Tower of London. After her release she married and emigrated to North Carolina where she lived for a time before returning to her beloved Skye. She’s buried not far from where she came ashore with the “lad who was born to be king”.

Fiona MacDonald
Learn About Isle of Skye – Fiona MacDonald

The Northern Lights

Northern Scotland, including Isle of Skye, lies in the same latitude as Stavanger in Norway, meaning the aurora borealis is oft times visible from the island. Late autumn and winter are the best times to experience the amazing displays. Cold, clear nights with limited light pollution and increased solar activity create optimal viewing conditions.

Learn About Isle of Skye aurora borealis
Learn About Isle of Skye – aurora borealis Photo by Joshua Harvey on Unsplash

Add Isle of Skye to Your Travel List

I hope this peek at Isle of Skye tickles your curiosity. I visited in 2017 during a family girls’ trip through the UK. We loved the rugged beauty of this island. It feels wild and unspoiled.

You can drive around the island in half a day…and spend months exploring its terrain and learning its stories.

Have you visited Isle of Skye? Would you like to? I look forward to a return visit someday.

Eilean Donan Castle
Standing in front of Eilean Donan Castle before driving across the bridge…the Skye.

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Movies That Inspire a Trip to Scotland

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Fourth in the Movies That Inspire Travel series, these are the movies that inspire a trip to Scotland. I’ve greatly enjoyed writing this series of travel related posts. Check out the movie inspirations from Italy, Ireland and England too.

If you’ve followed my blog for very long, you know that Scotland is dear to me. I grew up with an intense longing to explore this gorgeous country, after I learned about my Scottish roots as a young child. My dreams became reality in 2014, with my first trip to Scotland. I returned in 2017 and 2019. Truthfully, I think about my ancestral homeland daily. Scotland calls to me continually. I feel more myself, more at home there, than I do anywhere else in the world.

This collection of movies inspired me through the years, while I yet dreamed of visiting Scotland. And today they stir fond memories and ease…a tiny bit…the ache to return home.

Movies That Inspire a Trip to Scotland title meme

The Three Lives of Thomasina 1963

This early Disney live action drama stars Patrick McGoohan, Susan Hampshire, Matthew Garber and Karen Dotrice.

In this fantasy meets reality film, a young Scottish girl’s cat, Thomasina, helps bring a family together through her mysterious death and magical resurrection. Set in 1912 Scotland, this tender movie enchants both children and adults.

Fun fact: As is usual in films featuring animals, several cats played the role of Thomasina. One of the felines held up filming for two days by absolutely refusing to perform a stunt she had trained for.

Purchase The Three Lives of Thomasina

Movies That Inspire a Trip to Scotland the three lives of thomasina
Movies that inspire a trip to Scotland – The Three Lives of Thomasina

Local Hero 1983

This comedy drama stars Burt Lancaster, Peter Riegert, Peter Capaldi and Denis Lawson.

An oil billionaire sends his representative to a remote Scottish village, to secure property rights for a proposed refinery. While the villagers initially seem excited by the prospect of a cash windfall, the eccentric local hermit doesn’t share in the enthusiasm. He refuses to sell his portion of the beach where he lives. This is the story of a materialistic man who discovers the incredible beauty of a simpler life.

Fun fact: After the movie released in 1983, many people came looking for the quaint village featured in the film. The Scottish village is Pennan on the Moray Coast.

Rent Local Hero on Amazon Prime

Movies That Inspire a Trip to Scotland local hero
Movies That Inspire a Trip to Scotland – Local Hero

Rob Roy 1995

Liam Neeson, Jessica Lange, John Hurt and Tim Roth star in this historical drama.

In the Highlands of Scotland, in 1713, Rob Roy McGregor attempts to better the lives of those dwelling in his small village. He borrows money from a nobleman to purchase cattle to herd to market. When the money is stolen, Rob Roy becomes a Scottish Robin Hood to defend his family and his honor.

Fun fact: Actor Tim Roth feared losing the role because he played Archibald Cunningham as too eccentric. He even asked his agent to start looking for another part for him. Instead, the director encouraged Roth, asking him to up the level of eccentricity. Roth later received an Oscar nomination for his performance.

Rent Rob Roy on Amazon Prime

Movies That Inspire a Trip to Scotland rob roy
Movies that inspire a trip to Scotland – Rob Roy

Braveheart 1995

Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohand and Angus Macfadyen star in this historical drama.

Scottish rebel William Wallace leads an uprising against the English king, Edward Longshanks, who covets the crown of Scotland. With the assistance of Robert the Bruce and the clansmen of the Highlands, Wallace seeks freedom for all of Scotland.

Fun fact: When asked by a Scotsman why the Battle of Stirling Bridge was filmed on an open plain, Gibson answered, “The bridge got in the way”. “Aye,” the local responded, “that’s what the English found too.”

Watch for free on Starz or rent Braveheart on Prime

Movies That Inspire a Trip to Scotland braveheart
Movies that inspire a trip to Scotland – Braveheart

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone 2001

This fantasy adventure stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith and Richard Harris….plus a huge ensemble cast.

Harry Potter, an orphaned boy, discovers the truth about himself at the magical Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry.  Famous for an incident that happened shortly after birth, Harry learns that the wizarding world is more dangerous than he ever imagined.

Although Hogwarts attracts students from across Europe, the school is located in the Scottish Highlands.

Fun fact: Author JK Rowling hand picked Alan Rickman to play the role of Snape. Rickman privately received special instructions about the character from Rowling that shaped the actor’s portrayal. Those details about Snape’s backstory were not revealed until the final novel and film.

Rent the Harry Potter films on Amazon Prime

Movies That Inspire a Trip to Scotland - Harry Potter
Movies that inspire a trip to Scotland – Harry Potter

Dear Frankie 2004

Gerard Butler, Emily Mortimer and Jack McElhone star in this romantic drama.

Nine year old Frankie and his mum Lizzie continually move from place to place. Their most recent stopping spot is a small seaside Scottish village. Wanting to protect her deaf son from the truth about his father, Lizzie creates a false story. She writes Frankie letters that the boy believes are from his father, who is supposedly away at sea. When Frankie discovers the ship his “father” is on is due to dock in his town, Lizzie chooses to hire a stranger to play Frankie’s dad, rather than tell him the truth.

Fun fact: The actor who plays Frankie is not deaf. However, he worked with a speech coach so that his one spoken line sounded correct.

Watch Dear Frankie on CBS All Access or rent on Prime

Movies That Inspire a Trip to Scotland dear frankie
Movies that inspire a trip to Scotland – Dear Frankie

Stone of Destiny 2008

Charlie Cox, Stephen Cole, Ciaron Kelly, Kate Mara and Billy Boyd star in this comedy adventure based on a true story.

The films tells the fascinating and true story of four young Glaswegian students who, in 1951, successfully take back Scotland’s stone of destiny.  The 300 pound sandstone block is the stone that the kings of Scotland sat upon for their coronations. It was taken to Westminster Abbey in England as a spoil of war in 1296. Centuries later, these students outwit British authorities to return Scotland’s pride to its rightful place.

Fun fact: One of the real life students, Ian Hamilton, makes a cameo in the film, as an “older sour faced Englishman”. Ian passes the actor portraying him as he gets out or a car, shortly before he enters Westminster Abbey.

Watch Stone of Destiny free on IMDb TV

Movies That Inspire a Trip to Scotland stone of destiny
Movies that inspire a trip to Scotland – Stone of Destiny

Brave 2012

This animated film features the voices of Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Kevin McKidd and Julie Waters.

Determined to make her own way in life, Scottish princess Merida defies long held traditions, bringing chaos to her family and kingdom. Granted one wish, Merida must rely on her bravery and her archery skills to undo a curse.

Fun fact: Kevin McKidd, who voices Young MacGuffin, enjoyed working on this film. It was the first time in years that he used his natural Scottish accent in a movie.

Rent Brave on Amazon Prime

Movies That Inspire a Trip to Scotland brave
Movies that inspire a trip to Scotland – Brave

Macbeth 2015

Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard and Jack Madigan star in this drama inspired by Shakespeare.

Macbeth, Thane of Glamis, receives a prophecy from a trio of witches. They claim that one day, he will become King of Scotland. Spurred on by ambition and his wife, Macbeth murders the king and takes the throne for himself.

Fun fact: During filming on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, visibility became so poor that Marion Cotillard strayed into a bog and disappeared from view. It took two crew members to free her from the mud that sucked at her feet.

Watch Macbeth free with a Prime membership

Movies That Inspire a Trip to Scotland macbeth
Movies that inspire a trip to Scotland – Macbeth

Outlaw King 2018

Chris Pine, Stephen Dillane and Rebecca Robin star in this historical drama.

After receiving the declaration of “outlaw” by the English, Robert the Bruce raises an army of Scottish warriors in rebellion. He uses cunning and bravery to defeat the much larger and better equipped English army occupying Scottish soil.

Fun fact: After a screening of the film, the director cut 20 minutes from the movie. Included in the edits…a scene with an encounter between Robert the Bruce and William Wallace.

Watch Outlaw King on Netflix

Movies That Inspire a Trip to Scotland outlaw king
Movies that inspire a trip to Scotland – Outlaw King

When You Can’t Travel, Watch a Movie

The Three Lives of Thomasina, which I watched many times as a child, ignited a desire within my heart to visit Scotland. The other films, and more like them, kept that fire stoked. Even after my trips to Scotland, watching a film set in that amazing country creates a deep longing to return.

I am willing to feel the homesickness, as I watch movies that capture the rugged mountains and narrow glens of Scotland. And I willingly allow tears to fill my eyes when I hear bagpipes or that delightful Scottish brogue. These are invitations to return, from a land I consider home. When travel restrictions ease, I intend to answer that call.

How many of these films have you seen? And have you visited Scotland yet?

Movies That Inspire a Trip to Scotland eilean donan castle
I am home.




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