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Impressions of Scotland, UK

Scotland, the land of whisky, bagpipes and kilts and cloudy skies over valleys and lakes, 'lochs', caught between rugged mountain tops... Clichés are not always wrong, but they are always incomplete : whisky is by excellence the alcoholic drink of Scotland indeed, a delight by the way; and bagpipes and kilts are an essential part of Scottish tradition and culture, kept alife all over the country, in streets, parks and in the Highland Games during spring and summer; and it's true that cloudy skies often add that touch of mystery to the Romantic landscapes of lush, sloping valleys and the dozens of 'lochs' nestled between the sharp ranges of the Grampian Mountains. But there is more to Scotland, a stubborn Celtic land with a centuries long history of fending off foreign occupation, from the Angles since the 6th century and the Vikings a bit later, to the English, beginning with King Edward I's invasion of 1296, triggering a long period of Wars of Scottish Independence. The irony is that the union of Scotland and England was realised for the first time in 1603 by a Personal Union, when King James VI of the Scottish Stuart dynasty inherited the Throne of the Kingdom of England as James I... No reverse invasion involved, and yet a Scottish King on the Throne of England. Let's have a Single Malt from the Highlands or a whisky based Drambuie from the Isle of Skye on that, because – admit- it is indeed an amusing twist of history; ... although – to be fair – Scotland and England remained separate Kingdoms in all other aspects. That too, though, changed in 1707 when the Parliaments in both countries ratified the Treaty of Union, which extended the Personal Union to a real political union of Scotland and England, the United Kingdom. Not that this changed a lot to Scottish authenticity: the bagpipes, kilts and whisky distilleries are still there, the Celtic Highlands background of Scottish society has received a serious boost by 19th century Romanticism, with names in literature like Sir Walter Scott and James Hogg and the mainstream Church of Scotland is Presbyterian, not Anglican. Scotland is vibrant with its main cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, full of character and life, in an equally pleasant contrast with the serenity and rural seclusion one enjoys on the shores of a distant 'loch' or in the grand tended park of one of the many castle mansions and abbey ruins testifying of a tumultuous past.

Before visiting the place of your choice:

Away from the Wester ross coastal area, lush valleys of green meadows and small wild water rivers lead the way into the Torridonian hills and several waterfalls, of which the Measach Falls belong to the most spectacular ones, a 46 metre drop at the head of a nearly two kilometre long canyon known as the Corrieshalloch Gorge.

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