Daily Archives: March 11, 2016

Top Five Scottish Island Destinations

Scotland is well known for its beautiful glens and sparkling lochs, but did you know that Scotland has over 790 gorgeous off-shore islands? Most of these islands are to be found in four main groups: Shetland, Orkney, and the Inner and Outer Hebrides.

It is hard to find another place in the world that can match the beauty of the isles of Scotland. If you are vacationing in Scotland, you should consider island hopping, so as to enjoy the phenomenal hills and moors, and the sweeping sea views from the isles.

The American-Scottish Foundation has chosen five Scottish island destinations you should put on your bucket list:

Isle of Islay

Image via islaypictures.com

Image via islaypictures.com

The Isle of Islay, known as the “Queen of the Hebrides” is the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. On top of the gorgeous scenery and wildlife, the isle has eight working whisky distilleries to visit.

If you’re not too busy sampling the whiskies, Islay also has golf courses, trails for cycling, horse-riding and hillwalking, and spots to fish. There are also several annual festivals on the island, such as the Islay Festival of Malt and Music, the Islay Jazz Festival, the Rugby Festival and the Cantilena festival. With gorgeous views and plenty of activities, the Isle of Islay is a 5-star vacation destination. www.islayinfo.com

Isle of Jura

Image via isleofjura.scot

Image via isleofjura.scot

The Isle of Jura, part of the Southern Hebrides, is one of Scotland’s last wildernesses. A little over 200 islanders are outnumbered by 3,500 deer. On Jura there are many historical sites to see, from Iron Age Forts to ancient burial grounds and standing stones.

The village of Craighouse is the main settlement on the island. The charming town has a shop and tearoom to peruse, and a cozy hotel if you want to spend the night. Jura’s only distillery can be found in Craighouse as well, and offers personal appointments for tours and tastings. Jura’s west coast offers visitors authentic, untouched wildlife and absolutely stunning views. Spend some time exploring the amazing Isle of Jura. http://isleofjura.scot

Isle of Arran

Image via lochsandglens.com

Image via lochsandglens.com

The Isle of Arran is the largest island in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland. The isle is often referred to as ‘Scotland in miniature’, for it possesses many of the great qualities of Scotland in a single island. Arran has gorgeous mountains, woodlands, beaches, and outlying islands to see and explore.

The capital of Arran is Brodick, where Brodick Castle, the ancient seat of the Dukes of Hamilton, houses an incredible furniture collection. The castle is surrounded by the Duchess of Montrose’s garden, which has been recently restored. Arran is a perfect destination for you if you want to explore historical sites, hike, golf, or simply take in the local geology and wildlife. Escape to the Isle of Arran to experience Scotland’s history and beauty.

Fair Isle

Image via fairislebirdobs.co.uk

Image via fairislebirdobs.co.uk

Fair Isle is a tiny island that sits half-way between Orkney and Shetland. The 70 or so islanders tend to live at the southern end, where the land is more fertile, while the northern end is made up of sloping hills and moorland.

The internationally renowned Fair Isle Bird Observatory has done scientific research on seabird breeding colonies for over 50 years, so Fair Isle is one of the best places to bird-watch in the world. You might also see seals, porpoises, whales and dolphins cruising around the island. Fair Isle is known for its unique style of knitting, for many years ago local knitters discovered that fine yarns stranded into a double layer produce warmer garments. Journey to Fair Isle to experience the incredible wild-life, and don’t forget to shop for cozy wool sweaters.

Isle of Skye

Image via isleofskye.com

Image via isleofskye.com

The Isle of Skye is one of Scotland’s most popular vacation spots. It is famous for its breath-taking scenery, such as the beautifully crystal clear Fairy Pools on the River Brittle. The Isle of Skye is 50 miles long and the largest of the Inner Hebrides. The Island has a rich history, having played host to Clan Warfare, Highland Clearances and ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ and the Jacobite Rebellion. Both Clan MacDonald and Clan MacLeod have their Clan Castles on Skye, just waiting for you to explore.

The Isle of Skye is also a great destination for wildlife watching. See if you can spot White Tailed Sea Eagles, otters, seals, whales, dolphins, or red deer. Skye is also a great destination for walkers and climbers with famous trails like ‘The Cuillin Range’ and ‘The Trotternish Ridge.’ Have a walk around the Isle of Skye and you may never want to leave.

 

Eight Must-See Movies Filmed in Scotland

Outlander, the hit time-travel television series, has been a huge success in both the States and the UK. Part of this success is due to the beautiful Scottish scenery that features in the show. Besides Outlander, Scotland has played host for many other television productions, and even more films.

Scotland has produced some of the top Hollywood stars, but the beautiful country itself is has been the star of many films. Scotland’s phenomenal scenery serves as a wonderful backdrop for movies. The country’s sprawling and mysterious landscape is other-worldly, so it is no wonder that filmmakers often flock to Scotland to create movie magic.

The American-Scottish Foundation has compiled a list of eight must-see movies filmed in Scotland. How many have you seen?

1. Braveheart

Image via moviefone.com

Image via moviefone.com

No list of films shot in Scotland would be complete without Braveheart, the iconic historical epic. The 1995 film directed was directed by Mel Gibson, who also stars as William Wallace, the13th-century Scottish warrior who led the Scots in the First War of Scottish Independence against King Edward I of England.

The film crew spent six weeks shooting on location throughout Scotland, in areas such as Glen Coe, Aonach Eagach, Glen Nevis, and Loch Leven. Although the majority of the film was shot in Scotland, some of the battle scenes were shot in Ireland as well.

Braveheart was a huge success. The film was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won five. If you haven’t seen the iconic movie yet, it is well worth the watch!

2. Trainspotting

Image via smh.com.au

Image via smh.com.au

Trainspotting is a 1996 British black comedy directed by Danny Boyle. The film stars Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Kevin McKidd, Robert Carlyle and Kelly Macdonald.

The movie follows a group of heroin addicts living in 1980s Edinburgh and their struggles with poverty, crime and addiction. Although the film is set in Edinburgh, the majority of the scenes were shot in Glasgow.

Trainspotting has become a classic in its own right. The film is ranked 10th by the British Film Institute in its list of Top 100 British films. It was also voted the best Scottish film of all time in a general public poll in 2004. Although the movie deals with dark themes, it is a cinematic masterpiece and is not to be missed.

3. Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Image via aperturecinema.ticketmob.com

Image via aperturecinema.ticketmob.com

In 1975, the British comedy troupe “Monty Python” released the feature film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Starring the Monty Python comedians Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin, the film is wildly funny.

The film is an outrageous parody of the legend of King Arthur and his quest to find the Holy Grail.  Most of the film was shot in Scotland, particularly in the areas of Doune Castle, Glen Coe, and the Castle Stalker.

Now a hilarious cult-classic, Monty Python and the Holy Grail grossed the most out of any British film released in the U.S. If you are in the mood for something witty, ridiculous, and positively bursting with fun, give Holy Grail a watch.

4. Skyfall

Image via lebleudumiroir.fr

Image via lebleudumiroir.fr

Skyfall, which was released in 2012, is the twenty-third “James Bond” film produced by Eon Productions. The story follows Bond, played by Daniel Craig, who is investigating an attack on MI6; the attack is part of a plot by former MI6 agent Raoul Silva to humiliate and kill M, the Head of the Secret Intelligence Service, played by Dame Judi Dench.

Many of the most important scenes of Skyfall take place at Bond’s family home in Scotland, “Skyfall Lodge.” These scenes were shot in the dramatic landscape of Glen Coe.

The film’s 2012 release coincided with the 50th anniversary of the James Bond series, and won several awards, including two Academy Awards and two Grammys. This thrilling film should be on your must-see list, even if just for the gorgeous Glen Coe scenes.

5. Dear Frankie

Image via channelawesome.com

Image via channelawesome.com

Dear Frankie is a 2004 British drama directed by Shona Auerbach. The film stars Emily Mortimer, Gerard Butler, and Jack McElhone. The film focuses on a young single mother and her relationship with her young, deaf son.

Dear Frankie is a heartwarming film that explores the lengths at which a mother will go for her child. The film is set in the small Scottish village of Greenock. Filming took place in Greenock and throughout Glasgow.

This movie was first premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival for independent films in 2004. It was also screened at the Cannes Film Festival, where it received a fifteen-minute standing ovation. Movingly acted and beautifully filmed, Dear Frankie is a must see.

6. Restless Natives

Image via zcint.co.uk

Image via zcint.co.uk

Restless Natives is a 1985 comedy directed by Michael Hoffman and starring Vincent Friell, Joe Mullaney, and Ned Beatty. The film is about two modern-day “Robin Hoods” from Edinburgh who wear masks and rob passengers on tourist coaches to the Highlands.

The whimsical comedy follows the two young robbers as they become local folk heroes. The film is shot in locations throughout Scotland such as Edinburgh, Glasgow, Glen Coe, and Glen Nevis.

Restless Natives is distinctly Scottish in its folk-story charm, its gorgeous backdrops and its soundtrack, which is composed and performed by Scottish rock band Big Country. A gentle 80s comedy, Restless Natives is an underrated treasure of a film.

7.  Cloud Atlas

Image via impulsegamer.com

Image via impulsegamer.com

Cloud Atlas, a 2012 independent German-American science fiction film, features a star-studded cast of actors such as Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, and Jim Broadbent. The film is based on the 2004 novel Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.

The film follows several plots set across six different eras, exploring the “ripple-effect” of time. Much of Cloud Atlas was filmed in Scotland, in locations such as Glasgow, Edinburgh, Falkirk, and Dumbarton.

Cloud Atlas premiered in 2012 at the 37th Toronto International Film Festival. Although the film has received mixed reviews, it was up for multiple awards including a Golden Globe for best original score. The movie is worth the watch for the beautiful cinematography and Scottish sites alone.

8. Macbeth (2015)

Image via homemcr.org

Image via homemcr.org

The most recent film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth was the brain-child of director Justin Kurzel. The famous story of the murderous Scottish king has inspired many past film productions. However, the 2015 adaptation is especially notable for the way it utilizes the Scottish landscape.

Starring Michael Fassbender as Macbeth and Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth, the dark film follows the couple’s descent into madness. Filmed throughout England and Scotland, Macbeth shows off the spooky side of Scotland in locations throughout the Isle of Skye.

Although this film is dark and violent, it is well worth the watch. Ancient Scottish customs, songs, and accents give the rugged film an air of authenticity. In the 2015 Macbeth, the classic tale of murder and madness is given new life.