Although Scotland constitutes more than a third of the land area of Great Britain, it has a population of only 5.4 million. The Highlands are spectacular, but the soil is of little use for agriculture. Most Scots live in the Lowlands, which contain the cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. The Kingdom of Scotland was a sovereign state until a “personal union” with England in 1603, when James VI of Scotland succeeded to the English throne. In 1707, Scotland entered into a political union with England to create the Kingdom of Great Britain. Today Scotland retains its own Parliament, plus separate legal and educational systems. Renowned for its whisky, Scotland has also developed a thriving culinary culture and acquired a sprinkling of Michelin stars.
The weather can be mercurial, and golfers will need rainproof clothes throughout the year. The legendary Old Course at St. Andrews is open to anyone with a proper handicap (24 or better for men, 36 or better for women). Guaranteed tee times can be purchased through a tour operator such as Adventures In Golf.
Traveling through Scotland by Train
Long a favorite with Hideaway Report readers, the Belmond Royal Scotsman offers two- to seven-night itineraries through the dramatic landscapes of the Scottish Highlands. An observation car provides armchairs from which to gaze at the passing lochs and mountains, while two mahogany-paneled dining cars serve seasonal Scottish cuisine. The luxury train travels sedately, even taking the bends at a slower speed to ensure a relaxing ride. Guest cabins feature beds fitted with Scottish wools and tartans. A new source of relaxation is now provided by a unique spa car. Two stylish treatment rooms, designed by the well-known Bamford Haybarn Spa, based in England’s Cotswolds, afford therapeutic views of the passing scenery.
Cruising through Scotland
For anyone (like us) who loves small, intimate ships; country house hotels; and Scotland, the Hebridean Princess scores a spectacular hat trick. A 2,100-ton 50-passenger vessel, she regularly plies Scotland’s glorious west coast and its romantic archipelago. The 30 comfortable cabins (10 designated for solo travelers) are appealingly decorated in a country house style and come with marble-clad baths. The Isle of Arran Suite on the Princess Deck is the ship’s largest accommodation and comprises a separate seating area and a spacious bath with a walk-in shower. The Columba Restaurant provides a conundrum of equally appealing selections. Shore excursions are fascinating.