Scotland is my home country, it's where I was born and where I did most of my growing up.
The name Ross is typically Scottish these days (meaning "from the peninsula") but it developed from a French name,
Rosce. Or so I'm told. Physically Scotland is a small country of around 30,000 square miles,
yet due to the rugged nature of its shape it has over 7000 miles of coastline to explore.
There are quiet glens and high mountains, while most of the population is concentrated
in cities around the central belt between the rivers Forth and Clyde.
Scotland was first settled by Pictish people around 6000 years
ago, people who may have come from
attempted to invade Caledonia,
as they called Scotland, but came to no avail as the Picts and Celts kept driving them
out. Perhaps it was just too cold for them, and they liked the weather in
Rome better! The first King of Scotland according to tradition was King Kenneth MacAlpin,
who was crowned in the year 843.
In the late 13th century Scotland took the opportunity during the Anglo-French
war to ally with
as part of their struggle to reclaim their rule from
which had recently also claimed the throne of Scotland. Leaders of the revolt were William Wallace
and Robert the Bruce who was crowned king in 1306. He recaptured castles and raided
across the English border, finally defeating the English king Edward II at Bannockburn
Today, Scotland once again has its own Parliament and First Minister,
but it is no longer a monarchy, being part
of the United Kingdom since the union of the crowns in 1603, and the union of the parliaments in 1707.
The main industries are oil, centred around Aberdeen (Europe's oil
capital), electronics, tourism, fishing and production of whisky, Scotland's most widespread export.
Crathes Castle near Aberdeen was completed in 1596, played host to
James Brown in summer 2001, and has a great adventure playground!
Camping in the highlands, in Wester Ross. There's
nothing like the great outdoors!
Whilst out for a walk in the Highlands one day
we came across a deep narrow gorge, the Colonel's Bed near Inverey. A point like this
in the river where it passes through a narrow channel is called a Linn.
Braemar claims to be Scotland's best tourist village,
it is set in Royal Deeside to the west of Aberdeen and is the place to go for some
of the best hiking in the Cairngorms and skiing at Glenshee. I have been here
countless times, it's a great place to go to get out in the country away from it all,
and it has good pubs too.
The Discovery was the ship used by Captain Scott
and his crew for their race against Norwiegan Amundsen to be the first to the South
Pole. Built in Dundee, the ship carried her crew safely to Antarctica, but Scott and
his team were beaten by Amundsen, and died in their tent on their return journey. The
ship now stands as a museum and memorial to their efforts.
Here I am on my way up Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain
in Britain at 4,406 feet. The mountains in Scotland are mightily old, and worn down
through the last ice age to get less steep as you near the top. This creates "false
summits" as you climb, which can be very disheartening.
This is the cottage where Robert Burns, one of
Scotland's most famous historical figures was born, in Alloway, South Ayrshire.
Burns is Scotland's national poet and lived in the 18th century, yet his birthday
is still celebrated all over the world on January 25th. Some of his more well-known
works include "My Love is Like a Red Red Rose" and of course, "Auld Lang Syne".
Here is Dunnotar Castle near Stonehaven on the
East coast of Scotland. The castle is more than a thousand years old and is showing
its age, but some parts have been recently restored. It is surrounded by water on
three sides, with only a narrow neck of land available for mounting a siege,
making it very well positioned for defence. It was used for outside shots
in Mel Gibson's adaptation of "Hamlet" a few years ago.
Another very dramatic castle sits on the west coast south of Ayr, at the village
of Dunure. The castle is flanked by a doocot to the left, where the castle occupants
would have kept pigeons.